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Eugene’s Slogan

September 5th, 2006 by dk

Robb Hankins left Eugene for honest work in the Midwest, but not before he coined our now-official city slogan: “The World’s Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors.” It was adopted by the Eugene City Council a year ago, so it’s time we start unpacking it. Which is the most important word in that nine-word monikor? Surely the answer is “and.”

Other towns have better access to the Outdoors and many cities host more and better choices for the Arts, but few or none have combined them so well.

SportsOne President Jim Etzel showed he agrees when he described how his company will promote what’s been called the biggest sporting event leading up to the Beijing Olympics:”You don’t really have to be a track fan to have interest in what will be going on in Eugene. We’re trying to sell the whole Eugene Ô08 experience.”

In other words, Eugene Ô08 will be selling all the ways that we’re more than Track Town USA. More than a Nike-fueled sports town. More than a university town. More than a hippie refuge. More than a mecca for musicians and artisans. More than a place where new ideas can take hold.

I think of Eugene as the World Capital for Bad Ideas. We’re a place where those bad ideas can be nursed into greatness. When somebody came wanting to make footwear with a waffle iron, nobody in Eugene tried to talk him out of it.

We’re an exceptionally active and curious place. Unlikely parts combine into a surprising whole here. That whole is what’s best about Eugene. It’s not what gets us ranked among the best cities for bicycling or live music or retirement or healthy eating or recycling habits, or any of the other parts that magazines choose to measure. But the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Call that whole “quality of life” if you like, but I’ll just think of it as the all-important “and.”

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