Richard Greene

July 12, 2014

Arlington, Texas, wants to be called by its own name

The “American Dream City” slogan captures reality and local perception.

Now that Arlington residents have had an opportunity to discover the city’s new logo and identifying slogan resulting from an extensive, months-long branding project, we can look at what folks think of it all.

The city hired an accomplished national consultant to come up with something that would help identify the state’s seventh-largest municipality. The consultant worked diligently with movers and shakers and lots of ordinary people to carry out his assignment.

The seemingly ageless question of how Arlington could finally emerge from the shadows cast upon it by the bigger cities to the east and west has now been dealt with more comprehensively than ever before.

The initiative was launched when city leaders recognized two main motivations to pursue a clearer definition of the city’s identity.

First was and is the constant irritation of being called “Dallas” or “North Texas” or anything else by the national sports and news media when something is taking place in the two world-class sporting venues partially funded with public dollars.

When the millions of people who show up for those events are added to attendance at Six Flags Over Texas, Hurricane Harbor and the Arlington Convention Center, the media take notice. Civic pride takes a hit when residents read or hear that those folks have arrived somewhere other than Arlington.

Second is to recognize, embrace and celebrate the growing diversity of the city and realize it is happening because opportunity for a better life is increasingly being found in Arlington.

The result: “Arlington — The American Dream City.”

When you think about it, the slogan captures not only the reality of opportunity unique to America, but the assurance that it can be found in Arlington — as confirmed by the testimonies of those who discovered the promise and claimed its potential in Arlington.

It’s a little difficult to gauge the community’s reaction just from the announcement that came about three weeks ago.

Coverage in the Star-Telegram produced only a single comment. Even the paper’s popular columnist Bud Kennedy’s commentary on the topic didn’t draw a response. The city’s announcement on its own news website likewise attracted no comments.

There was a good deal of activity on Facebook. Almost all of it was positive, except for one site that has a history of attracting some of the city’s critics and curmudgeons.

One said the city was nothing but a dumping ground for national chains. Another said the new slogan sounded about right, since the town’s elected officials were asleep. Others opined it was laughable, stupid, and one even called it “horse crap.”

Fortunately, there’s actually a scientific and thorough survey done every year by the professional consulting firm the city uses to track residents’ opinions. The latest one this year revealed a high degree of satisfaction and very upbeat feelings about the city.

More than eight out of 10 rate the city as a good place to live — one of the essential tests of public perceptions on quality of life.

A couple of other overall key attitudes produced impressive results. Strong majorities of 72 percent agree that the city is headed in the right direction, and 78 percent say they would recommend Arlington to others.

These findings would seem to confirm that Arlington now identifying itself as “The American Dream City” has hit the mark.

If we can just get those voices that come through the television, radio, Internet, etc., to sign on, maybe the reality of a truly extraordinary place that has a long history of meeting and exceeding expectations will be called by its actual name: Arlington.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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