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Stories: Justin Merrick

Justin MerrickJustin Merrick is the Executive Director of Center for Transforming Communities, an organization dedicated to building up the cultural, economic, social, physical and municipal health of neighborhoods. Overton Park Conservancy has been honored to develop our comprehensive park plan in partnership with CTC by engaging young people, whose voices are often neglected in planning processes. We asked Justin to share a bit of his experience bringing CTC’s work to Overton Park.


Center for Transforming Communities ….

Creating the Culture…..

Connecting to Climate….

Coping through COVID


CTC means all of these things to me…So one can imagine how I jumped at the opportunity to reinforce and reimagine how communities of color can have increased access to open spaces and sacred places across the city, especially Overton Park.  Now, before CTC’s partnership with Overton Park, I can honestly say I did not frequent this Memphis treasure–but now it’s a regular part of my routine that I look forward to taking my Dog (Duke Ellington) on a weekend stroll….or enjoy moments of reprieve, mindfulness and meditation with my colleagues…when COVID had its foot on so many of our necks. When life became daunting, Overton Park became a place of release.

I tell Tina, Kaci and the team all the time….everyone deserves to have a bit of Overton in their own backyard and our shared embodiment towards equity in our city presents us with many unique opportunities ahead. CTC will continue to lean into the tender moments of 2020 to remind us all how precious life is. Coping through Covid does not stop at Overton, however it can be a great place to begin!! Center for Transforming Communities believes in Overton Park’s vision of park equity and I remain steadfast to the commitment of how our neighborhood churches, schools and community centers can continue to create home at Overton Park and continue to cultivate these sacred spaces in the heart of urban Memphis. If not only for beauty, but for the sake of humanity.