Allford: Calgary in need of a new rallying cry

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Me too. I love a good slogan that brings a city together and I can’t wait to see whether one emerges from this initiative. “A rally cry kind of unifies us,” says Pollock. “It lets you know you’re not the only one going through this.” And there’s nothing like the grit that comes from the grassroots.

Take “Keep Austin Weird.” This legendary marketing slogan was born in 2000 when a local librarian concerned about the tech boom changing the nature of his city donated to a quirky radio program to help “keep Austin weird.”

The librarian, Red Wassenich, started printing Keep Austin Weird bumper stickers with the proceeds going to a local animal shelter. Soon enough, someone else filed for a trademark for the slogan and started pasting it on all kinds of merch for tech gods and tourists to buy. Over the years, marketers in several other cities have tried to co-opt the phrase but I’m not sure “Keep Indianapolis Weird” packs the same punch.

Meanwhile in Tucson, one of my all-time favourite American towns, the cool kids are trying to prevent the city from falling prey to the rising real estate prices and unaffordability now seen in Austin. They’ve come up with their own slogan: “Keep Tucson Shitty.” While local tourism and economic development officials are unsurprisingly horrified at these T-shirts, I for one applaud the irony and cheek of it. It’s like that old trope about Vikings coming up with the name “Iceland” to keep the hordes away from its beautiful volcanic hot pools, and bestowing a vast barren tundra land with the name “Greenland” to try to attract people.

Here in YYC, we could do with attracting some more positivity right about now. We need to keep Calgary hopeful. While it may feel like we’re barely fending off a fire-breathing monster, we have a lot to be grateful for and so much to look forward to. Including our artists coming up with messages to inspire us, our entrepreneurs growing businesses to employ us and our health-care workers finding the energy to pull on their boots for another day of helping us.

So not today, Godzilla. You can take your big beasty feet and keep marching right out of town.

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