No good deed goes unpunished.
That’s clear from this week’s reaction to Garden Grove City Councilman (and mayor pro tem) Kris Beard’s latest initiative. He wrote a proposed resolution to declare that part of the Big Strawberry west of Western Avenue to be “West Grove.”
Beard wrote – among other things – that the west side has “long demonstrated a profound sense of community pride so distinct, they identify the area as ‘West Garden Grove’ with the affinity and the character of a small, family-oriented, hard-working, middle-class, ‘All American hometown.’”
Some folks even read “All American” as code words for “mostly white folks,” which was certainly not what Mr. Beard intended. At Tuesday’s city council meeting he took his lumps and promised to come back with a better resolution in May.
However, let’s not let some few awkward phrases disregard the idea on its general merits, or the lack thereof.
Essentially what Beard is proposing is to create a “brand” for the west side and now emphasize the virtues and sense of community over there. This isn’t a bad idea. Many large cities – and Garden Grove, believe it or not, is turning into one – have celebrated the charm of different neighborhoods which make a municipality more than just a bunch of tract homes.
The issue, as I see it, is that Beard “walked point” on the concept of working toward boosting such recognition. It’s an important role, but those are the guys who usually run a risk.
A better approach to consider might be to use this idea as the seed of a bigger concept. Mayor Steve Jones says he is seeking to build a more unified community, but the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. The national motto is (or should be) “e pluribus unum,” meaning “out of many, one.”
I am imagining a marketing campaign, complete with colorful signage promoting, for example, “West Grove: Another Great Garden Grove Neighborhood.”
Other candidates would include Downtown, Little Saigon, Koreatown, and Grove Resort as starters. You could make a pretty good case for other areas such as Brookhurst/Chapman (the city’s chief commercial center), East Side (east of the resort) and other places as it seems appropriate.
None of this conflicts with the city’s “Garden Grove Is Your Market” campaign. Few successful enterprises use the same ad approach forever, or aim at a too-specific demographic. “Market” is aimed largely at making businesses comfortable with Garden Grove as a site location; “Great Neighborhoods” would aim at making existing and potential residents feel better about the city as hometown.
Maybe all the acid kicked up by this mini-tempest can have a soothing result. Celebrate all the good stuff. To paraphrase an old educational fad, “Leave No Neighborhood Behind.”
Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column appears on alternate Wednesdays. Usually.