Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Yang and the Yin of Community Image

I received two things today that provide a pinpoint illustration of the image issues that impact Durham.

First, the yang, a photo-letter of love from a new resident.

Second, the yin, word from a new recruit at a nationally recognized firm based in Durham that she had been guided to buy a house in Cary and commute by a Cary-based real estate broker who filled her head with notions about Durham being unsafe, infested with crime and having poor public schools.

As Councilman Eugene Brown (also a Realtor) put it, he’s been “putting up with these kinds of distortions and mendacities (I had to look that one up) for years.”

Obviously so has DCVB. And the next time I ask for Durham to get it “due” and I get one of those pious lectures about regionalism, I’m going to explain that they are preaching to the choir. It isn’t Durham that undermines regional cooperation, it is the junk spread by people like that real estate broker in Cary. And if they truly believe in regional cooperation, they need to come down like a ton of bricks on people perpetrating these distortions upon newcomers.

Sadly, I’ll be shocked the first time I hear them do that, which makes me doubt it was ever about regionalism at all but more like keeping Durham in its place.

Fortunately, he or she probably has repeated it so many times s/he believes it. And yes, sometimes the news coverage fuels the stigmas but this agent is a so-called professional who likely signed a code of conduct regarding truthfulness in statements and should know better. Fortunately, regardless of his or her motive (it would be easy to think it pecuniary) the vast majority of people outside of Wake County know it is rubbish.

Unfortunately, this recruit’s life (and other individuals that paid good money for the services of that agent) will be affected. Hopefully she enjoys it there. But I know she won’t enjoy the commute and she’ll be angry as hell when she learns there are many places right in Durham that are equal to or greater than some of those places in Cary.

Also unfortunately, there are too few Durham messengers, like Eugene Brown willing to do the heavy lifting. You can spot them because they fear confrontation and they cling to the notion that sticking our head in the sand and just disbursing more of the positive can out trump the negative. Of course that’s crazy…anybody involved in communication knows that negativity has more than twice the impact of positive. So it has to be both/and, not either/or.

We need to come to terms people like this Cary agent. They give this part of North Carolina a black eye that no amount of positive can trump.

In the meantime, retired or not, I’m going to keep fighting for Durham.

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