Idea #25: Convert visitors, students, and conference attendees into evangelists for Spokane

The Nest at Kendall Yards is an active, vibrant urban space that receives activation every day. Because this would not have even been imaginable just ten short years ago, it’s the type of space that exemplifies Spokane’s recent revitalization. (PHOTO: The Inlander)

If you follow Spokane Rising on Twitter, you know that a couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference in Buffalo, New York. The conference wasn’t related to the work done here, but it seemed that everywhere I turned, I was struck by a piece of inspiration that I would be able to bring back to this blog and to the Spokane community. Perhaps most pressingly, I was reminded of the necessity of taking pride in your community. Buffalo does this particularly well; having the term “Buffalove” certainly makes it easier. But there was at least one concrete piece from the conference opening keynote that we can bring back to Spokane: converting conference attendees and visitors into evangelists for the city. John J. Hurley, the President of Canisius College, delivered a speech that sung the praises of his city and his community.

There’s no reason we can’t do that here.

Let’s bring community leaders, university presidents, conference planners, and business leaders together. Let’s develop a framework for talking about the revitalization of Spokane. With the Davenport Grand, the recent Convention Center completion project, and nearly $1 billion in public investment to come within the next ten years, it’s time to sing the praises of our recent success. One thing that struck me about Hurley’s keynote at Canisius College was the way he inextricably linked the success of his school with the revitalization of his city. Why doesn’t the same happen at Gonzaga and Whitworth? Where’s the pride in WSU Spokane and EWU? Let’s build institutions which tie their identity directly to Spokane.

With conferences, we can work with organizers to develop a language for discussing Spokane. And let’s encourage them to include free days or arrival days for conference attendees to explore Spokane. When we send representatives of our city, whether from City of Spokane, Visit Spokane, Downtown Spokane Partnership, Greater Spokane Incorporated, or any other important local organization, let’s make sure they sing the praises of our city. Because the people with whom they speak will become evangelists for the city itself. Send them to Kendall Yards, to Browne’s Addition, to Coeur Coffee! Extol the virtues of Riverfront and Manito Parks! Exhort them to visit Flying Goat, South Perry, or the Community Block/East End. And then tell them to tell their friends, and for them to tell their friends. We have a lot to be proud of in Spokane, but there’s a lot to be said for making others excited about it as well.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: What do you think? Do you think that it would be a good idea to encourage visitors to explore Spokane to make them evangelists for the city? What types of programs could encourage local leaders and conference planners to sing the virtues of Spokane? Or should we just shamelessly tell people to tell their friends (I prefer this option)? Post your comments below, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or talk to us in person. We love to hear from you.

The case for co-opting Kendall Yards’ “Urban by Nature” slogan

From this vantage point, it’s clear that Spokane truly is “urban,” yet also is astoundingly close to nature. How can we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory identities? (PHOTO: Young Kwak via The Inlander)

What do you think of “Urban by Nature” as a refinement of Spokane’s current “Near Nature, Near Perfect” mark? Greenstone has been using that slogan to market Kendall Yards, but perhaps it would be better suited to market Spokane itself. It’s already proven to be more than capable of describing that mixed-use urban village development near downtown, where the Centennial Trail provides easy recreation access, yet also a five-minute walk to all of downtown’s urban amenities. Perhaps it could be re-tooled or re-purposed by Visit Spokane.

Sure, “Near Nature, Near Perfect” is great, but it fails to encapsulate the essence of our city because it neglects the urban amenities that Spokane offers. It’s clear from the mark that something is located close to nature, but just what is it? It could describe any size of city. What makes Spokane great is that it has all of the benefits of a larger city, and yet is still located just five minutes from amazing hiking and biking trails in Riverside State Park, or half-an-hour from Mt. Spokane. “Near Nature, Near Perfect” doesn’t work because it fails to acknowledge that. And who wants to be near perfect, anyway?

By contrast, “Urban by Nature” offers a somewhat obvious, yet also sophisticated alternative. We retain the “near nature” or “by nature” aspect, highlighting our region’s easy access to world-class recreation. But we also add the “urban” aspect, keying ourselves into what should be our target demographic: young urban professionals and entrepreneurs. It also highlights the broader trend in urban design and affairs: millennials aren’t living in suburbs like their parents did. They are living in cities. They want all of the amenities and benefits that come with living in a city and all the convenience and recreational amenities of the suburbs. Spokane can offer that distinct choice, and the “Urban by Nature” slogan offers a unique opportunity to show that off. The play on words only helps the cause.

What do you think? Would Spokane be better served by a better slogan? Would “Urban by Nature” be a good alternative? Or does “Near Nature, Near Perfect” still fit the bill? Share your thoughts in the comments, on social media, and in person. We love to hear from you!