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« Ehrmanology | Main | Paul Baran »

Mar 28, 2011


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David Craft

If I hear about that "massacre" one more time I might just........

Billy Jones

Well it appears his guides piled on the green BS with phrases like "Throughout our discussion, I discovered other reasons why Greensboro was in the Clean Cities Hall of Fame: for instance, 700 of the city garbage trucks have switched to biodiesel fuel."

Some of us know different.


Of note, Powers is a (self-impressed with his erudite-ness) New Yorker, not a Washingtonian,

Doug H

They had to have some jack to be staying at the Proximity.

Also, the hotel employees might need a little re-education: the elevators do generate a trace amount of power on their downward descent, but they are most emphatically NOT self-powered!


Good catch, Billy. I have not heard that the city resumed their bio-diesel operations after their 2008 suspension, so I'm inclined to think Mr. Powers made a mistake. I'd have asked him about it, but comments on his article are closed after only two comments and his email address is not posted with the article or readily available on the NYT's site.


I hope they have good insurance, setting amateurs out on bikes from that location. Green Valley is bad enough with the curves and the speeding, but then the first intersection is Benjamin or Westover/Battleground. Relaxing.

Roger Greene

Do we really have 700 garbage trucks? I'm always amused by greenies who act like they discovered gardening. I grew up amidst fruit trees, bee hives, and an acre garden. Back then we were called country. Now it appears to be avante garde to do all that. I think they meant well, bless their hearts.


But enough of the pats on the back...we honestly can't let just one positive puff piece about our fair town go without bashing it? Good thing he didn't praise the Coliseum...


You reflect Greensboro's bane, GO: to seem rather than to be.


At Action Greensboro's recent Groundbreakers meeting on St. Patty's Day, they handed out a half-sheet of paper asking how people would describe Greensboro's brand....Frankly, I was stumped, so I just put down "Greensboro: We're inbetween brands." It was telling, to me, anyways, that I was stumped by that question. Sure would be nice to drop off the negativity at White St.


FWIW, I'd bet that almost no one who read that article was previously aware of Greensboro's "dark past".

Maybe the N&R should return the favor by sending someone to DC to report that the locals are not setting fire to their homes. Be sure to note the presence of working elevators and functioning bicycles.


Slogan's and pride in the mistaken impressions of strangers. We need to have higher expectations.



Andrew Brod

I thought the WaPo story was quite good. Not only does it describe Greensboro in favorable terms to Washingtonians, it should remind Greensboro-ites that this is a nice place to live.

Having said that, I totally agree with GO about Greensboro's brand. I wish we had a brand: some zazz, some zetz. But as much as I hate to admit it, we don't.

Take economics; we know what the Charlotte and Raleigh economies are about; their brand is apparent. Even within the Triad, both Winston-Salem and High Point have a focus and hence a brand. But what's Greensboro's?

Over 20 years ago when I moved here from Evanston, the first suburb north of Chicago, I realized something. Evanston was a suburb but not suburbia, whereas Greensboro wasn't a suburb but was suburbia. Later, when I started spending a little time in Winston-Salem, I realized that it feels like a city, while Greensboro often feels like a bedroom community.

A lot of this is bad luck. When I wrote the first paragraph above, I stumbled over what to call a Greensboro resident... a Greensboron? Less facetiously, the textile/apparel powerhouses that once dominated our corporate community and employed so many of our people are mostly gone. What's replaced them are smaller industries, making rebranding all the harder.

And we can't really depend on our region for the brand, because it has its own serious branding problem. Its identity is either mystifying (no one outside of a 50-mile radius knows what the "Piedmont Triad" is) or fragmented (only after the metro area was split could Greensboro be featured prominently in its name).

I say these things not to badmouth Greensboro, because I really like it here. I expect to be here another 20 years. I thought GO's assessment of Greensboro's brand was right on the money, and defining the next brand will be no small feat. On the other hand, maybe the WaPo article that launched this thread can be a starting point. It'd be great if a city with the name Greensboro became known for its environmental initiatives and sustainable lifestyle. Do we have a shot at that as a brand?

Ed Cone

Previously: "News that a group of civic leaders is considering a new branding campaign for Greensboro did not cause my heart to race in anticipation of a resulting boom in our economic prospects or self-esteem.

"In fact, it made me cringe."


Billy Jones

I'm sure any mistake on the part of Mr Powers was spoon fed to him by his local handlers.... ah, I mean guides.

I too, wondered about the elevator thing but having never set foot in the Proximity Hotel, I thought perhaps somebody has finally perfected perpetual motion but alas, 'tis only regenerative breaking.

As to branding Greensboro-- most branding is based on what the best features or best implied features of the brand-able product happens to be. Greensboro has little to brand. Branding Greensboro as a green city is laughable at best with urban sprawl rampant, almost no walkable neighborhoods, almost 100% car dependent, little if any green industry, transporting our garbage hours away, a city wide recycling plan that recycles less than half of what can be recycled, few safe places to ride bicycles, one motorcycle per parking space, ever expanding rental ghettos throughout large swaths of the city, streets that were never finished.... In other words, Greensboro isn't really a brand-able product.

Perhaps we should brand ourselves as, Greensboro, the place where nothing is as it seems.

Now you know we can't be dumping no negativity at no White Street as it will surely stink to high heaven!

It's Greensborolillians and don't you forget it.


A brand is about how we market ourselves as a city, not only to our own region, but outside the region as well. I sense that some of what I may be talking about is identity. I've lived in a lot of places and I can tell you that the only brand I remember is the one that went wrong. (Search Seattle brand MetroNatural - it was painted on the Space Needle.)

I prefer the game of: What is the first thing you think of when you think Greensboro? For me...It's colleges and parks. I'm tempted to throw in Revolutionary War, but I tend to think of places that latch on to past significant events as stuck in time, be it true or not.

Billy Jones

For over 30 years, Greensboro was marketed as the Gate City-- a gateway to the Piedmont Triad and the rest of North Carolina. Every radio and TV station, The Greensboro News and The Greensboro Record pitched the Gate City continuously for the entire time I was growing up. Thirty plus years and today at least half of Greensborolillians have no clue as to what Gate City is, was, or was meant to be.

The problem with branding a city is that the residents must sign-on to the ploy to make it happen but 76 Trombones ain't going to happen here. Especially now that we have Google, Wikipedia and the rest of the Internet including the highest per capita number of local bloggers of any city in the world, intent on turning over every rock, exposing every lie and enraged at the constant graft dolled out by our developer run councils and commities.

In this day and age there is only one option for a city like Greensboro to chase-- that being the safest city in America. And currently, even High Point beats us out. As I've said for years: When Greensboro can truly claim to be the safest city in America then the creative and industrious will come here to ply their trades and raise their families.

But when the FBI lists Greensboro as having a higher crime rate than NYC it's going to be a rough row to hoe.

And while I would truly like to see Greensboro become the Greenest City in America, our developer run councils and cash strapped tax payers simply ain't going to allow it to happen.

Greensboro would be smart to look hard at Cuba where 85% of the adults own their own homes, homelessness is 0%, food is grown on every square foot of ground, doctors are the chief export, healthcare is free and world class, and a country that once begged for food and fuel from the USSR now exports food and needs little imported fuel.

Or, being that we've invested so much in our alcohol fueled downtown we could release hundreds of thousands of chickens all over the city and go Key West style. Next time one of my hens goes brody I'll be happy to donate a few pullets and cockerells.

Andrew Brod

I prefer the game of: What is the first thing you think of when you think Greensboro?

I think that's precisely the game. As I noted for those other cities, there is a first thing that comes to mind when their names are mentioned. I'm not sure what Greensboro's first thing is. Maybe it's organic and already here, like colleges and parks. Maybe it's something we can build. But whether organic or constructed, it has to somehow rise to the level of consensus. If everyone has a different "first thing," it's never going to be something we can use as a community.

On the other hand, if everyone has his or her own specific "first thing" (and if they're generally positive and optimistic, etc. etc.), we might just have to settle for being a happy but unbrandable city.

Billy Jones

I'm thinking just say F&^1 it and go the 76 Trombones route that has been the status quo since before I was born in 1956.

There's really so many great things like Professor Wharton's (Sp?) of 100 next little things but I don't really see Greensboro's "movers and shakers" as having the wherewithal to get behind anything new.

Question: My recent employer paid "experts" to come in and tell him the same things I'd spent the 3 previous years telling him.

Greensboro brings in some quack to tell our leaders all about the creative class when the local creative class has been screaming the same message for years.

And yet nothing ever changes...

Like I said before and was put down for mentioning: If you want Google Fiber then you have to convince Google that Greensboro has something a hundred other cities doesn't have.

And when you figure out what that thing is then you'll know how to brand Greensboro.

Funny thing is: it's right in front of our faces.

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