10 May 2005

akron is . . .

Apparently, now dubbed the Renaissance City. The Akron Beacon Journal held a contest for a nickname and this was the the result of readers' votes.

Ostensibly, readers optimistically envisage Akron as a phoenix, rising from the rubber detritus, revealing the rich culture incubating in the rust. How else can we arrive at such a grandiloquent term?

This contest stems partly from the current buzz in Akron (and Cleveland) about keeping young professionals in the area, and what we want is somewhere "cool". I am a young professional and, yes, I would like to be somewhere "cool"—a place that has a bevy of cultural activities from which to choose, a place with interesting restaurants and nightlife, a dating pool that has a higher ratio of hip smarties than rednecks. Is Akron that place? Eh.

I don't think Akron will ever be that ideal for me, but I believe culture is brewing in Akron. I believe untapped potential lies beneath its crusty exterior. And I generally like living here. But I'm not willing to acknowledge the earnestness of calling it a Renaissance City.

Pittsburgh is also designated the Renaissance City. I can see that more than Akron. Akron also now shares the nickname with Newark. Newark, New Jersey. I guess its residents are still hoping for its renaissance.

Today the Beacon's David Giffels took on this naming game. Giffels claims he likes the name Renaissance City, but he also reveals what Akron really is.

"Akron is only cool in the sense that bowling and synthetic research and very large all-you-can-eat buffets are cool," Giffels writes. "Which is completely valid, but also more than can be explained in a single word."

"I think my favorite of the finalists is 'Akron: It Satisfies,'" he notes.

Like Giffels, I don't think we need a slogan; it's too gimmicky. It undercuts what is actually happening in Akron and what is truly cool. People my age who embrace Akron find coolness in its crustiness, its blue collar roots. In its Akroness.

The term Akroness was created over at Cool People from Akron, allegedly by N8. But my roommate 0 Degrees K appropriated it for a DVD he did. It's rather undefinable, but people who know Akron recognize Akroness.

But that's probably not good fodder for an ad campaign.

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