Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Riding the Line

In destination marketing, there are a lot of thin lines. Articulating what Carl Sauer at UC Berkeley called "the essential character of a place," something he termed cultural landscape, is very tricky.

There is a thin line in destination marketing organizations between capturing the essential character of a destination and then branding and promoting it in a "deliverable" way to travelers for whom it will be a highly valued, satisfying experience and dumbing it down into a simulation, cute caricature or tag line.

There’s a thin line between what Dr. Dan Schilling terms as the "poetry" of civic tourism (or DCVB’s role) and the "politics" (or development of place).

There is a thin line between funky (lots of personality) and seedy. There is a thin line between a generic, manufactured sense of place and places true to their soul, like the American Tobacco Campus, West Village I, Brightleaf Square and even The Streets at Southpoint, which have all gone to great lengths and expense to retain an authentic and genuine character.

There is a thin line between being a growing, dynamic community and one that loses its soul in the process of trying to be all things to all people.

There is a thin line between being a caring, tolerant community and one so overrun with litter, poor curb appeal, aggressive panhandlers and loitering it appears unsafe.

There is a thin line between open and passionate public discourse and hostility, mean-spiritedness and political theater.

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