You know that, as a now retired community/destination marketing executive, I thoroughly loved reading the part of the description below given for my adopted hometown Durham North Carolina in its recent ranking, which had it sandwiched between New York City and the Big Island, Hawaii, as one of the five great US destinations to visit during 2012.
“The beneficiary of tobacco barons, Durham is where Wall Street hedge-funders retire early to grow heirloom vegetables on riverside farms.”
Durham is no stranger to accolades from external stakeholders such as this, nor is the community a stranger to accolades as a visitor destination, which is a testament both to the prowess of its official community marketing agency, but also to the fact that Durham residents and businesses and organizations deliver on the brand.
That's why it would be hard to believe, if not for hearing it from so many different sources, that senior management at the City of Durham “doesn’t consider it a priority” to address the community’s aesthetic, even when residents have signaled in scientific polls that it is an area not only of high priority, but one where they overwhelmingly see their community falling short.
Durham is not only highly rated as a place to visit but also as a place to live and do business. It is also highly rated for attracting and retaining talent so one might be tempted to conjecture this concern about aesthetics is just from picky newcomers.
But as you can see by clicking this link or by clicking to enlarge the chart shown as an image in this blog post, the results from the poll conducted by Nanophrades on behalf of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, as a community performance metric, shows that newcomers, as you would expect, are a bit more uncertain about whether Durham's roadsides and public are being kept attractive and litter free although more than 4 out of every 10 believe they aren't.
The percentage citing neglect steadily increases until it approaches 6 out of every 10 residents who have lived in Durham between 11 and 20 years and a negative-to-positive ratio of more than 4 to 1. The sad part is not just that some of these residents report that officials are apparently unresponsive or that this is the only aspect of the community with a ratio in the negative for perception including perceptions of safety or public schools.
The pathetic part of this neglect is that even public administration professionals, of which Durham has some of the best but, who may have become understandably jaded by second-guessing, interference and micromanagement or may have retreated into the muted confines of bean counting or engineering cannot fail to grasp the symbolic and overarching significance of this type of neglect to residents.
But regardless of the reasons why it hasn't been addressed to date, the community is on notice from the vast majority of its most important stakeholders that its standing is at risk.