Friday, July 30, 2010

Putting The “Famous” In Potatoes

Here is another example of why it takes more than a good product or good destination or facility or event to be successful.  It takes equally good marketing.

The year I was born, my Uncle Louie (the Idaho rancher who chewed Bull Durham) tacked up his ‘48 license plates on the barn and then gave them to me when I went away to college.1948

They not only had “Famous Potatoes” along the bottom as they do today but unique that year they had a baked potato in the center, foil, cut open with a big pad of butter on top.

It wasn’t the potato itself that became famous.  Like most products, it became famous because of brilliant marketing.  The same reason “build it and they will come” is a myth.

On my trip, I read a book by Randy Stapilus entitled It Happened In Idaho and read for the first time how the potatoes there became famous. Much of this information is also online in Aristocrat in Burlap by James Davis.

potato region of Idaho is fairly small, running down the eastern edge from the higher elevations of Ashton and the Teton Valley near where I was raised, down to Pocatello.  Much more of the state is covered in range land, huge mountains, lakes and forests.

First planted in Idaho by missionary Henry Spaulding, potatoes by 1917 were being raised by Joe Marshall and a few farmers in the sliver of Eastern Idaho lava flow dissected by the Snake River plain.  They had 25,000 or so acres in potatoes then compared to 320,000 in 2009.

Marshall knew the attributes that made potatoes grown in Idaho better, e.g. larger, better shaped, less moisture, better texture, looked better on the plate, etc.  But at the time they were still just mixed in with inferior potatoes grown elsewhere and brought the same price.

The big brokers then were in Chicago and on a trip there, Marshall stopped into one of Dario Tofanetti’s restaurants located in the financial district (I find spellings also with an “e”.)  He demonstrated the unique attributes of the Idaho potato, persuaded the chefs there to pay three times what the brokers paid in return for as many as they wanted.

Tofanetti’s began marketing them on menus at the Chicago restaurant and throughout the chain.  Mr. Tofanetti even displayed them in the window entrances to his restaurants and soon “Idaho” potatoes were identified on menus throughout the country.

It took a great product but to excel it also took brilliant marketing.  Too many local officials miss this point and thus underestimate the importance of destination marketing organizations.

By the way, Marshall also helped establish the Idaho Potato Commission, based in Eagle, ID and funded by special tax (now 12.5 cents per hundred pounds grown) to perpetuate the marketing of this product.

The concept was later used to pioneer the special room occupancy and tourism development tax to fund community marketing.

Tourism Impact of 25 Natural & Manmade Disasters

I suspect the hullabaloo over signals on Apple’s new iPhone 4 is another example of things blown all out of proportion by the insatiable appetite of 24/7 news coverage.Oxford

But, thanks to a concise 27 page report by Oxford Economics, we do know the huge hit the gulf coast travel economies are taking and will take related to both the BP spill and the related news frenzy.

But Oxford goes further than just an analysis of BP.  The report documents the tourism impact of 25 natural and manmade disasters ranging from epidemic scares to tsunamis etc.

Well worth a read and don’t panic at the 27 pages, they include plenty of charts:)  The United States Travel Association has provided a great service by commissioning the analysis.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fairway Turns On DCVB

In its latest attempt to roll back Durham’s long-standing ban on billboards, Billboard Opinion

I sense that Fairway is stooping to this tactic out of frustration and more than a little desperation. I know the Fairway official based in Raleigh as honorable but the pressure from headquarters must be unbearable. They know if Durham stands its ground, others will and if it doesn’t, others will give in.

Let me be clear. While it has listened to and analyzed both sides of the debate, DCVB has not taken a position on the Fairway request and from my experience, probably won’t unless requested by local City and County officials.

As an independent but public authority, DCVB isn’t in the business of arm twisting officials. Its role is to provide information to inform discussions. My recent blog explaining my position was my opinion and my opinion only. Maybe I hit a nerve and Fairway felt it had to discredit DCVB because I used to work there.

Last year, as customary with issues of wide public discussion, DCVB, during its annual benchmarking of resident and non-resident opinions, asked NANOPHRADES, a North Carolina based firm that specializes in scientific public opinion polling to sample the opinions of Durham residents about the billboard issue to help inform the discussion.

The question was carefully worded by Dr. Mitch Javidi and the sample was highly accurate and generalizable. Mitch has conducted work for Durham for nearly two decades and knows both how crucial it is to DCVB to be accurate and how reliant Durham is on DCVB’s quality information to base decisions.

When the results were made public last year, clearly showing how strongly Durham residents feel in support of the current ordinance, I immediately anticipated that Fairway might panic and retaliate by trying to demean DCVB but I thought it would be much sooner rather than “last ditch.”

The fact is DCVB’s research, conducted impartially by NANOPHRADES is accurate. As far as I can tell, Fairway's subsequent research (apparently using robo calls) also appears accurate but the differences in outcome are due to Fairway questions being way too long and more than a bit leading. I’m almost certain Fairway handled the wording as is common sometimes when corporations conduct surveys with an agenda.

Demeaning the messenger though is a very old trick and unfortunately, corporations learned decades ago that it sometimes works.

Part of my performance at DCVB was rated on resisting “special” interests and I was good at it. Believe me, I loved every minute of my nearly 40 year career in community marketing… but I don’t miss this crap.

I’m placing my confidence in Durham’s elected officials to see through this latest smokescreen, with a keen eye on Durham public will and what’s best for the community.

The Danica Solution To Campaign Transparency

I think BrainSnacks blogger and friend Karl Albrecht is on to something with his PBI below (partly baked idea)DanicaPatrickR_450x300 suggesting that politicians be required to wear patches like race car drivers to reveal the sources of funding from special interests.

PBI #1. Who owns our politicians?

Voters and taxpayers often lament that elected officials are bought by special interest groups, who expect political favors in return for their campaign contributions. Usually, the politicians and their contributors avoid publicizing their relationships, so it's very difficult to know who's sponsoring a particular office holder.

While it might not be easy to prevent political officials from selling their services, there's an easy way to know who has sold what to whom.

Let's take a page from the sports industry, particularly auto racing. The race car drivers, their cars, and their pit crews all display logo patches that advertise their sponsors. It's worth a lot of money to have your company logo on the winner's jacket when the TV cameras roll.

The obvious application to politics: let's require that every elected office holder, at every level - even up to presidents and prime ministers - wear a logo jacket while on duty, with patches denoting the corporations and special interest groups that have put them into office. The bigger the contribution, the bigger the patch.

While we're at it, let's include lobbyists as well. Anyone entering or leaving the office of a member of Congress or Parliament - and let's not forget the Defense Department - would have to wear the patches of the special interests they're lobbying for.

But let's not stop there. Each contributor would have to pay for the advertising space on the jackets. In addition to the campaign contributions, they would pay advertising fees, which would go into the public treasury. The money could be used to pay lobbyists to push the interests of all those people and groups who can't afford to hire them.

Would this work?

Ideas From One Lake To Another

Sorry to go cold on the blog without notice.  I fully intended to blog during a week long rendezvous with family at an Inland Northwest, lakeside cabin as guests of my Sister and Brother-In-Law on the western shore of Newman Lake.  We gathered from Northern California, Utah, the Puget Sound area and North Carolina.

Reliant on a tether to my Smartphone, the plan to blog was thwarted when I overturned in a canoe and it took until I returned home for things to dry out and work again.Newman Lake WA  Tethering is a great idea though and worked great before my dunking.  Essentially it is a data plan option that permits you to connect a computer through a phone when there is no wifi or other broadband access available.

Newman is a natural lake, resting below Mt. Spokane, along the Idaho line, one of 75 within fifty miles of that city where I first cut my teeth on destination marketing.

I love being lakeside with the constant laughter of children splashing, peaceful sunrises and sunsets, bonfires, the call of Loons and much more.

But I also saw some relatively inexpensive solutions I trust are being evaluated for the issues impacting Falls Lake in Durham.  Falls is ten times larger but like Newman, relatively shallow.

When I left Spokane for Anchorage in the late ‘70’s, there were concerns about large algae blooms on Newman Lake, a symptom a lake is dying.  Today the lake is thriving, thanks in part to what I ran across on one of my canoe ventures.

Near the middle you could see bubbles coming up in an area surrounded by buoys.  Far below was hypolimnetic aeration, which pumps air (oxygen) into the lake bed to inhibit release of phosphorus etc. 

Newman wasn’t created for flood control or to provide water like Falls, but it had no natural outlet and farmers cut a canal to give it one at start of the 1900’s.  And there are still farms around the lake today.

And thanks to the efforts to rejuvenate the lake, today it is healthy and home to largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, perch, catfish and rainbow, brown and eastern brook trout, along with tiger muskies to eliminate carp some idiot introduced to the lake.  It is also well known for deer and moose and a wide range of water fowl including a significant Osprey population.

But I need to find out whatever happened to the toads and chipmunks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Most Revered Conservative Would Flunk Today’s Purity Tests

Hard to know where the group comes from that has hijacked the Republican Party.  But there are signs it has to do more with undermining social justice than conservatism.

By today’s test, they would not only exclude Ronald Reagan but every Republican presidents since the ‘70’s according to this Newsweek overview by Andrew Romano and several blogs out there.presidentronaldreagan

They seem to have not only purged the party from any moderate Republicans but the conservative label as well.  It would appear they are really more libertarian than conservative.

What some including Romano terms a Reaganite purity test, 1) cut taxes at all costs,  2) limit government spending except defense (read, gut social programs) and 3) let the Bible (must be the Old Testament then.)

President Reagan was great, the article, argues because he “got stuff done.”  And to do that he better informed conservative dogma with “debate, self examination and facts.”

While Reagan cut the marginal tax rate from 70% to under 39% (where it was under Bill Clinton as well.)  He also closed $50 billion in loopholes, instituted the largest tax increase in US history, hit businesses with $450 billion in new fees and instituted a payroll-tax hike to fund Medicare and Social Security.

Last year, by the way, Romano points out that taxes fell to their lowest level as a percentage of personal income since 1950.

President Reagan also ran up huge deficits (national debt soared from $700 billion to $3 trillion,) and expanded federal employment by 60,000 in contrast to Bill Clinton’s presidency which shrank federal payrolls by 373,000.

It wasn’t that cutting deficits wasn’t important to President Reagan, he was just pragmatic and put cutting taxes and confronting the Soviets first.  They were eliminated under Clinton but came back again under the most recent President Bush.

President Obama inherited the deficit and had no choice but to increase it to fight off an economic catastrophe.  It is clear that if he were President now Reagan would have done the same as well as increased taxes.

Maybe true Republican conservatives and moderates need to unite to take their party back from people schooled only in the dogma of Beck U and U of L.

I think if he were alive today, President Reagan would lead that charge.

Monday, July 19, 2010

DMOpro – Another Zeitgeist

Madison-based Zeitgeist Consulting is known for “firsts” in the Destination Marketing profession. So it wasn’t a surprise when Bill Geist and Terri White announced a soft-launch at 2 a.m. this morning of DMOpro .

DMO_PRO_logoDestination Marketing Organizations are the official marketing agencies for individual communities across the globe and accredited by DMAP.

After a nearly 40 year career, all but a handful of those years as a CEO of destination marketing organizations, I know what a pivotal and generous tool DMOpro is for professionals driven by what retired consultant David Camner terms “continuing and never-ending improvement.”

I can hardly wait to see what innovation Bill and Terri come up with next. Using Zeitgeist as the name of his 15 year old firm maybe a very clever play on Bill’s last name, Geist. But I know of no other organization more emblematic of the meaning of the term, “spirit of the times.”

Congratulations my friends!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ironic That Those Hardest Hit Have The Most Faith In This Great Land

Two things jump out at me after reading this report.  One,this study by the Pew Research Center tells me the stimulus is working.

Today, overall unemployment is around 10% compared to the 25% following two years of “deer in the headlights” Republican laissez-faire during the Great Depression.1643-1b

But this study shows nearly 1/3 of workers have been out of work at some time during the last 30 months of great “Recession.”  That tells me the rapid action has prevented what could have been a much bigger problem.

The chart to the right (click to enlarge) also documents the various impacts felt by people who remain employed since 2007.

But the reality is it could have been much worse and rapid action similar but nowhere near as big as what FDR did after replacing the policies of the Hoover/Coolidge era.

It is also a good sign to me that the overhaul and reinstitution of regulations on the financial industry is now nearly in place to prevent this type of meltdown.  In hindsight the repeal of the regulations spawned by the Great Depression was stupid.

The second thing that strikes me from the report is that the people we often hear whining, like older, white Republicans and Independents like myself, are much less optimistic about America still being a land of prosperity than groups that have been much harder hit like Blacks and Hispanics (click to enlarge chart to the right.)Land of Prosperity

Instead of obsessive coverage of a small group of “angry” whiners, the news media needs to take a clue from this excellent report and dig into why the middle class overall and Blacks and Hispanics in particular along with Democrats overall and young people 18-29 (many of the hardest hit) are still so much more optimistic that American is still the land of prosperity.

Maybe there really is a silent majority!

Click here for the full report.  It is well worth a read and much more enlightening than the summary.

I’m not a Democrat or Republican but I’m very grateful to the Democrats for doing so much of the very difficult, heavy lifting and very disappointed that all but a handful of the Republicans have wasted so much time and energy on a stupid blockade.

Billboards Are Obsolete And Communities Have The Obligation To Preserve View-Shed

The only argument by Fairway Outdoor Advertising that resonates with me is that the company has (been granted) a right (really a privilege) to do business. But Fairway has a lot of other, better options for selling outdoor advertising space besides billboards.

Large, fixed billboards along roadways are simply obsolete even when updated with bells and whistles like digital technology. They simply don't provide value that offsets the cost of cluttering the public view-shed. If it hasn’t already, long ago, Fairway should have diversified into far less intrusive and growth businesses like wrapping trucks and buses with advertising. Billboards need to go the way of the telegraph, telex, fax machine, 8-track tape and floppy disk.250px-Calvin_Coolidge-Garo

But the Georgia based (in North Carolina, Raleigh based) company has had Durham, North Carolina under a siege for a couple of years now in an often heavy handed effort to undermine the community’s longstanding ban on billboards. While complaining about fairness, Fairway has not always played fair. There's been enough hyperbole to go around.

But In my opinion, even if objective, third party, scientific public opinion polls didn’t clearly document that a clear majority of every segment of the Durham community is in support of retaining the current ordinance, local officials (and state and federal for that matter) have a clear obligation, for the public good, to protect our “view-sheds” just as they protect open space, water-shed etc. for the public good.

A century ago as billboards migrated from being painted on the sides of buildings such as barns to alongside the actual roadway, there may have been a short term argument in support…although even back then, as governor of Massachusetts, Calvin Coolidge, who became our most conservative, laissez-faire, anti-regulation president, had already curbed billboards in the early 1900’s.

And large, roadway billboards are especially obsolete today when the average American is now exposed to several thousand ad messages a day via 24/7 radio, television, internet, newspaper, magazine, above urinals, in airports, on the back of restroom stalls, on grocery carts…not to mention alternatives like GPS and official, much less obtrusive and more accessible “highway exit” logo advertising.

Long ago, view-shed which very much belongs to the public, not private businesses, emerged as a priority as so much of our natural countryside and farms disappear altogether and the distinctive sense of place of our communities is very much at risk.

In my opinion, after looking deeply into all sides, Durham should stay the course with regard to billboards also in my opinion, Fairway needs to grow into this century and pursue alternatives to billboards as a product.

But regardless, Fairway at a minimum must respect this community's decisions and overall public opinion.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Wish It Wasn’t So Easy To See Through The Rhetoric

I wish it wasn’t so easy to see right through so much of what comes out of groups like today’s Tea Party.  But when you grow up surrounded by that type of thinking, it leaps out from even the most nuanced rhetoric.know-nothing-flag

If your local paper didn’t carry Al Hunt’s column earlier this week, it is an excellent and balanced perspective along with some historical context on what is becoming the same old “nativist” argument that has surfaced so many times in this country’s history.

The code words change although not wanting to pay taxes has always been a constant, meaning “not if it benefits anyone who isn’t just like me.”

People like Pierre Chamois, from whom I descend, fled to this continent in the mid 1600’s to escape the very persecution to which nativist thinking leads.  The same thinking drove other ancestors to the west and even led to their disenfranchisement in Idaho at one time.

Oh yeah!  For me, this crap is personal.  We need to take this country back alright, take it back from the reactionary right.  People like the guy from Raleigh who wrote the now infamous letter-to-the-editor threatening violence if votes don’t go his way…he’s just more transparent than most.

Hunt is right when he writes that “History is never kind to these Nativists.”  But that doesn’t mean they won’t stoop to violence. 

But we need to vote and vote big time to send a message to these clowns…that we intend to fight just as hard as my ancestors did to keep this country free and open to immigration.

Using Rankings And Stigmas As Blackmail!

Insight Pharmaceuticals , marketers of Boil-Ease and Sucrets may well get sued and deserves it.NewInsightLogo

In a cheap publicity stunt, officials at the company using a boneheaded idea from its PR agency labeled ten destinations as the most bedbug infested in North America.

No independent or scientific analysis, just regional sales data for their product and randomly cruising the web for stories.

They picked up on a 5 year old case involving one problematic hotel in Durham out of more than 60, then pieced it together with TV interview over in Raleigh with a professor there noting an uptick in a large multi-county area then arbitrarily decided to stigmatize Durham.

Puzzling, this is a polycentric region, with two MSA’s and no one dominant city at its center but when the news is positive the bias including the media is to center it around Raleigh anyway regardless of the location where the news occurred but when negative it gets centered around Durham?  Hmmm? Nah… I’m sure that’s all in my head.

Not clear if Insight and its agency used sales data of just their product sales to individual businesses or exterminators and then generalized that to stigmatize entire communities.  Of course is isn’t clear if they libeled communities when not not enough of its product is aggregately purchased or the reverse when too much is purchased…kind of a damned if you do and damned if you don’t approach and hardly objective either way nor a reasonable basis for generalizations.

And what about hotels located in one community but in its wisdom somehow given a mailing address in another by the US Postal Service.  Several hotels using Durham for mail delivery are actually physically located in other communities and some given a delivery address as another community are actually in Durham.  I know, I know, what genius though that wouldn’t be cruel and unusual punishment to unsuspecting travelers?

Nearly all rankings are independently and scientifically-derived these days and granted, publications may commission the evaluations in part to generate increased distribution.  Obviously, Insight Pharmaceutical appears to be using rankings as a weapon, a form of blackmail.  “Buy our product and only our product or else be stigmatized.”

Kudos to Durham, North Carolina’s destination marketing organization for immediately digging out details and insisting on a retraction.  A couple of bigger DMO’s or their agencies took the chicken S*#& uh, I mean “old school” approach of “pulling the covers over their heads” and hope it goes away. Pardon the expression.

How’d that work for BP?   Don’t believe that Pollyanna approach has worked since the 1920’s and radio became the first mass medium and it definitely hasn’t worked for two decades or more.

The Durham CVB, forged during the Internet age, took leadership for two reasons.  It knows that in today’s world, you either respond and clear up the record or the information lives forever on the web and is assumed to be true because you didn’t.  Also, one of its stated core values is to “confront injustice” and not only on Durham’s behalf.  And it has research to document this approach works.

But Insight’s decision is not only very misleading, it is totally self-serving and extremely libelous.  Who knows what officials there were thinking, but they are going to definitely be in need soon of another of its products, Anacin!

People May Not Read Anymore But Kids Should

Mrs. Bratt must have been a tough name for a teacher, let alone a first grade teacher. Floy Bratt was tough. North Fremont County, Idaho didn’t have a kindergarten in 1954 so she inherited 28 first grade students at all levels of reading ability. All but one or two were from surrounding ranches and farms and two city kids from either Ashton (population give or take 1,000) or Marysville.00235_p_10aeuyf6sw0366_r

A memorable crack on the knuckles for talking when I shouldn’t have been is still a reminder that she was a disciplinarian. That’s me, second from left on top row in image to the right (click to enlarge.)

I don’t recall if my parents taught me to read before entering first grade. I believe they must have, because I remember at 5 years old not being permitted to come out of my room during the visit of a friend and his Mom one day, until I had fulfilled a goal/commitment of printing my first name.

I also recall that while there are a lot of things to learn on a ranch at that age, my parents were always focused on academics as well. I went on my first round-up at 5 and that may have been the carrot related to learning to print my name by that age.img069

I do recall with pride, earning the Certificate of Award for Home Reading, shown left and signed by Mrs. Bratt herself. Memory of those books has faded.

But the family photo below documents that it took me no time at all to form my own classroom for my two younger sisters who obviously are riveted in the photo below by a reading of just released Donald Duck in Disneyland.00122_p_10aeuyf6sw0254

You can tell by my youngest sister’s expression, it was a nail-biter, and the look on my next youngest sister’s face reminds me I was never as riveting as I remember.

Here’s to all the Mrs. Bratt’s out there and may they be as dedicated to reading and one day paid every penny they are worth. People as the saying goes may not read anymore, but there is no more important skill for those who do.

And to Mrs. Bratt, you’ll never be forgotten!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Statistics Don't Lie, People Fudge

Bumper Sticker slogans are cute and memorable but that doesn’t mean they are accurate or used in the appropriate context. Take for example, a quote an accountant friend of mine loves to use as a way to dismiss research he doesn’t like, “there are lies, damn lies and statistics.” Always gets a chuckle although especially a bit troubling when an accountant uses it.

But it isn’t the statistics that lie, it's the people who misuse and abuse them including those who would rather dismiss them than inform their opinions.

I'm not talking about the blatant misuse of polling such leading questions recently used by one done by the billboard industry. I'm talking about good data used inappropriately or out of context. It is more often that people lie than statistics.

A good example are various studies quoting that “40% of tourism is driven by or due to cultural and heritage activities. The studies are often accurate as far as they go and context but the way the information is later being applied, often isn’t. Actually nearly 18% of visitor person stays involve participation in one of four areas of culture and heritage and a little over 2% cite the four areas as the “main reason behind the trip.

Of course the 18% is a nationwide tally comparing all activity participation by domestic travelers but it would be a stretch for even the most culturally rich state or community to reach 40%. The gap is typically because the responses leading to 40% haven’t been weighted to be applied the way they are being cited.

For instance:

  • Typically they use only a subset of visitors which makes the percentage seem more impressive but out of synch too. This can be done by limiting visitors to just those person-stays that are “leisure” or an even smaller subset, “vacation.”

  • Rarely do they distinguish participation from motivation and when they do they are typically not weighted (same reason some political polls are so off) which means the percentage only applies to that sample and can’t be generalized.

  • They typically haven’t been “quantity weighted” for multiple responses, e.g. responses on activities add up to greater than 100%.

  • And/or they typically haven’t been weighted for propensity to make sure the sample is truly representative of the general population and not skewed to one segment or another.

  • And/or they typically haven’t been weighted for nonresponse bias when those responding to an outcome variable differ significantly from those who don’t respond. It is a mistake not to adjust for those who state they did not participate in any activity.

Sometimes the information hasn’t been weighed because those commissioning the study don’t understand the importance or want it to be or they don’t want to go to that expense or never included the steps in their request to make the information applicable in the way it is later being used. I’ve personally given agencies a heads up only to see them go ahead and misuse the information to serve an agenda.

People in any activity area who deliberately do this are either idiots or playing agenda politics by hoping never to be discovered or believing if they are, they can run for cover and the misinformation will stick in people’s minds. I’ve also checked with people who do these studies only to learn they are horrified the information is being misused.

It isn’t statistics that lie. It's people. Unfortunately, the manipulation creates credibility issues and when it backfires, blood gets spattered everywhere not just on the perpetrators.

I’m no genius at this stuff but I’ve learned enough from people who are to be suspicious. I’ve also been certain when involvede with studies myself to circulate findings with which I might not agree. If the science is right, its right.

Information shouldn’t be about agendas. I was on a board once where the organization rejected and suppressed some new calculations because they didn’t jive with information they had used for years from much smaller samples that hadn’t been appropriated weighted. Some egos around the table just couldn’t face up to how to explain the differences and opted for suppression instead.

It is the responsibility of DMO’s at local and state levels to vet information and have the courage to challenge it, especially when something “tourism” is being commissioned by non-tourism entities. It may initially result in a tad of friction but if folks who unwittingly misuse or purposely misuse the information aren’t confronted, it will only get worse. Read or re-read the book Crucial Confrontations if you need to know how or where to start.

It is also up to elected officials to have agencies with expertise in a particular area, e.g. tourism, vet research by other agencies on that topic and then reconcile issues, even if behind closed doors to prevent misuse and misinformation to legislators, news media and the public.

It is also important for scientists conducting the studies to be insistent on how the information is to be used and intervene when it isn't. It isn't statistics at risk, it is the credibility of the people who commission, conduct or interpret the information.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Continuation Of My Career In Branding

I’ve finished scanning and securing just short of 2,600 family and personal images. I’ve prepaid and given my youngest sister a gift box from http://www.scancafe/, so she can do he same with her own family photos, many not among the 2,600 just complete. I hope to do the same for my middle sister and my daughter.

Particularly precious and rare are nearly 250 from the early 1900's, late 1800's of ancestors going back five generations. I’ll upload those eventually to their place on my “in-progress” family tree on ancestry.comHB Larger

All of these images are part of me since childhood, if you’re like me and sat for hours looking at family photos. They are part of my unique “brand.”

I’ve also tracked down documentation for my family’s earliest brand mark such as the HB underscored to the right, for the right rib of cattle, preceded by HB without the underscore registered for the left thigh of a horse.

Thanks to the Idaho Historical Society and to Larry Hayhurst, the Idaho State Brand Inspector who kindly and patiently volunteered to look back through brand books for me during a lull in hunting down cattle rustlers.00539_p_10aeuyf6sw0663_z

They were originally registered by Hyrum Edward Bowman, my Great Grandfather (shown left,) who along with my Grandfather homesteaded near Lemon Lake and Sand Creek (Ora) at the turn of the 1900’s in the Yellowstone-Teton region of Idaho.HE Bowman HB Brand Registration - Left Thigh Horse

I guess the mustache is part of my brand as well.

To the left is one of the two registrations I have for these brands (click to enlarge.) When I get time I may try to run down one of the actual irons.

So after a nearly 40 year career of distilling, defending and promoting the brands of three different communities. It is fun as part of my retirement to turn my attention to recovering archeology of the Bowman brand.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Toolkit for DMO’s & Cultural-Heritage Stakeholders

Here is the final version of the toolkit developed by a Joint Taskforce of AFTA and DMAI. It now goes to the respective boards of directors for each organization and into distribution. Hopefully, some of it finds its way into continuing education.

I'm grateful to the Taskforce members and to former colleagues Minerva Council, Katy Bland, E'Vonne Coleman-Cook and Shelly Green at the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau for helping me with proofing and document preparation, updated research and charts etc.

I also want to thank past DMAI Chair Maura Gast for involving me in this project and to current Chair Dan Fenton for his patience and letting me finish the task during the first six months of my retirement as a DMO exec.AFTA

I really enjoyed getting to know and working with Randy Cohen at Americans for the Arts (AFTA) and as always Karen Gonzales at Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI.)

I also want to thank the many individuals who took time to provide input during the comment period.

More than a toolkit, this is a thought and discussion starter for individual DMO’s and Cultural-Heritage individuals, organizations and events in any size community. The purpose is to help forge or deepen stronger collaborations and alliances.

The “white paper” also attempts to provide a better understanding of respective roles and some basic expectations or aspired expectations to optimize a stronger partnership.

It is just a beginning. The rest has to be shaped by each community. I commend DMAI for reaching out to national or international stakeholder counterparts to shape consensus like this.

In my experience, the biggest roadblocks or hurdles to leveraging assets among organizations are basic misunderstandings about roles.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gadgets And Motorcycles Go Hand In Hand

I’m a self professed gadget person. I’m fourth, maybe fifth generation at least. My Great Great Grandfather had one of the first thrashing machines.

That isn’t why I learned to ride motorcycles at the dawn of my seventh generation of life. But I know now they definitely go hand in hand.Review Snippet

Owning and enjoying a motorcycle, even one as classically styled as the Cross Bones is all about accessories. And the newest to catch my attention is a new helmet that will soon be DOT approved if it hasn’t already.

Click on the image at right or go to .

It features a screen across the top of the visor so with a quick glance up you can check a much wider, more complete vision of what’s going on behind you than you can get with the side mirrors.

And I’m getting an alternate seat in a week or two with a backrest (lumbar support) to extend my range. We’ll see about the cross country. It is probably more fun to think about than do. I can’t imagine it being more fun than country roads around North Carolina.

But half the trip is gadgets….

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We Need To Elect Some Real Republicans!

First let me say I’m an independent and one of those progressive independents that would proudly launch 8 figure radio vitriologists into another apoplectic diatribe.

But I can agree we need to elect some Republications…new Republicans in the mold of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and yes, at heart,

The Republican Party began to purge itself of all but conservatives during the Barry Goldwater days of the 1960’s. A person I admired and respected at the time but the conservatives surrounding him are responsible for pushing me to the center, actually slightly left of center.

The Republican Party used to be home to many progressives. People who could not only handle change but actively pursued it. People like Romney's’, both Father and Son, until the Son seems to have turned hard right in an attempt to, well you know what.

You probably started scratching your head when you read Reagan. Yes, revered by conservatives, this president had a progressive streak a mile wide. If alive he might even think of swinging back to being a Democrat after witnessing the vile in his party today about immigration reform.

We need ideologically diverse political parties.

The Democratic Party too hasn’t always been as diverse as it is today, particularly in my adopted state of North Carolina, which due to conservative Democrats both in Raleigh and D.C. missed out on a lot of the best parts of the New Deal. Sheesh, even South Carolina had a “progressive” Governor back then.

True statesmanship knows no party.

Griping About $8 A Month – Sheesh!

Getting a haircut last week, I heard a lady two chairs over and old enough to know better, grousing about the increase in local property taxes in Durham. She said it at the volume people use when they expect everyone to agree.

Guess what, most of us are just too embarrassed to refute something so ignorant.

I didn’t hear her quip about the cost of haircuts which had also increased as most things do through any given year. But she grumped about a measly $8 a month increase property taxes ($200,000 house) which haven’t been raised in years.imagesCAIDSXG8

Government as one of our most revered presidents said is the “instrument of our united purpose.” It is the vehicle through which we do things for the common good and by common we mean everyone including ourselves.

We all want our home values to increase, right? And that requires clean water, waste removal and disposal, education and training, inspections to ensure public health and that the neglect of others won’t pull our values down, police and fire protection, good roads, convenient transit, healthy neighborhoods, a thriving economy, preservation of quality of life etc.

And the $8 is spread over all of those services….Oh my, what torture.

But a good portion of us appear so spoiled and/or ignorant as to believe they can have all of those things without paying for them. Or that the cost of those services should somehow never increase, although we want our benefit, our services and our quality of life to do nothing but go up.

Some of us are so arrogant as to believe we’ve earned everything we have by sole virtue of our rugged independence which infers that someone who doesn’t have them didn’t earn them.

“But for the grace of God” is a saying designed for these fools.

You get what you pay for. Period. And we pay for safety nets just in case…nothing is free, even freedom.

So buck up and pay the freight for the things that we can’t do individually or on which we cannot rely on non-profits or private enterprise alone.

If you need to gripe in public, gripe about all those folks dodging their taxes or not paying their fair share. That should be something we can all agree is wrong.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Gender Equality Attitudes – A Litmus Test

A study by Pew Research came out a few days ago documenting current perceptions about gender equality in various countries around the world.  Next month marks the anniversary of the 19th amendment to the constitution.269-06

To hear it today, every political faction claims responsibility for the women’s right to vote.  But it was the progressive party and the progressive wings of both major parties that made it happen.

It is a reminder that the conservative legislators in southern states almost blocked passage of the amendment.

We all owe a great deal to the progressive Bull Moose Party of Teddy Roosevelt.  I sure wish the energized Republican base today was the least bit in that tradition.  I fear though they are more like those that undermined the primary votes to steal the nomination for Taft.

I was particularly interested in the chart to the right (click to enlarge) dealing with what kind of marriage was found more satisfying in various countries, one where the husband provides or one where both husband and wife have jobs.

Look at the US and then look at Pakistan.  Never forget that there is a faction of this country that believes there shouldn’t be gender equality, although as they do with racism and classism they cloak it in vague terminology.

What they really oppose is “change.”

Why Would Anyone Fly Out of Raleigh?

It isn’t as simple as hubris either the kind referring to being out of touch with reality, nor the part about overestimating capabilities.

Compared to similar sized places, people from Raleigh, even elected officials there are compelled it seems to to take an extra flight to get virtually anywhere, compared to residents of similarly sized cities including Durham.RaleighMuni_NC_FlySer_72

They are always quite vocal in airports and on flights about “flying out of Raleigh.” I’m not quite sure where they catch these flights.

The Raleigh airport closed in 1972 but again I’m not that familiar with Raleigh. The hospital and TV station there have heliports but there isn’t an airport in Raleigh.

Doesn’t seem they would go to Knightdale or Garner and again that wouldn’t be flying out of Raleigh anyway.

Every one of these flights “out of Raleigh” must stop first at RDU, then to make matters worse, they all require a plane change at RDU. To add insult to injury, RDU is co-owned and located midway between Durham and Raleigh and their respective counties.

Folks from Durham have it much easier or maybe we’re missing something. We could try to build in an extra leg by flying out of Lake Ridge here but that would probably involve a biplane.

So we all just drive directly to RDU for our flights or take a cab, transit bus or SuperShuttle. Maybe the Raleigh folks are on to something, but it seems like much less of a hassle.

But we also don’t make a big deal so people can hear that we “flew out of Morrisville,” where RDU is located.

But Raleigh folks don’t appear worried about sounding stupid. They get right out there and tell people they “fly out of Raleigh.”

Five of ten people on each flight in/out of RDU are very puzzled by this behavior. They are visitors to or from one of the communities served by RDU, with Durham drawing the biggest share.

Three out of the other five out of ten are North Carolinians and a bit chagrined. We all sit dumbfounded while the 2.5 out of 10 from Raleigh, make a big deal about having to take that extra flight.

Even the airline crews to and from RDU seem embarrassed for the Raleigh folks, often pretending to be “flying out of Raleigh,” I guess so as to not humiliate these poor folks needing that extra leg to get anywhere.

But I think we owe it to our neighbors living in the big “R” to let them in on our secret. They can save all the time and hassle Durham does by just “flying out of RDU.”

But then again, while hubris can be kind of entertaining, beware of trying to use humor to clue these folks in. Hubris doesn’t often accompany a sense of humor.

Oh well, “ignorance must be bliss, even when it always requires an extra flight?”

Thursday, July 08, 2010

How'd That Work Out For Ya?

It is uncanny to hear conservatives, mostly Republicans, try to take us down the same path as they did in the 1930’s. The arguments are all there…YES to bank bailouts but NO to employment benefits, No to banking regulation, No to more stimulus, No to immigration reform. Laissez-faire then, as now was their answer to everything.

They harped then, as now, that deficit spending would bring us down but said NO to tax increases on the wealthy as part of balancing the budget. They argued then, as they do now, that the states and local governments should do the heavy lifting, when then just as now budget cuts at those levels were deepening the recession.2009-02-16-USUnemployment_1930_1950d

Even after falling from power in the US, their counterparts worldwide slowed recovery for a decade by letting off the stimulus too quickly and obsessing about deficits.

But back then, the country, having heard their arguments when they were in power, disregarded them. The public then was very clear on whose policies had brought about the problem.

Could be President Obama was simply elected one year too soon or we wouldn't be hamstrung by partisan block voting.

Today, we’ve forgotten the Republican arguments that led to repeal of those '30's bank regulations in the ‘90’s and the devastation it has caused. We’ve forgotten the wars that hastened this recession, one now 9 years running.

But there are three huge differences between then and how.

  • Progressives made up a good portion of Republicans in the '30's, preventing petty block-voting partisanship from styming experimentation, innovation and recovery.

  • Fireside radio chats reached people and people were eager to listen, while today's radio talk shows just as often cocoon people from hearing anything with which they might disagree or getting the full story.

  • Humility. We haven’t been humbled enough. Our unemployment of 10% (4% among college educated) pales in comparison to the nearly 25% during the 1930’s. The pain isn't universal now so there isn't as much empathy or urgency to try new things.

Required reading for journlists and voters prior to the November election should be, Nothing To Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle And The Hundred Days That Created Modern America .

"Those who cannot learn from History are doomed to repeat it." George Santayana

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Accreditation – Where Does Your Community’s DMO Stand?

Congratulations to the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau and the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau on achieving accreditation to the best practices of community marketing, a distinction earned by just 115 Destination Marketing Organizations.DMAI_Accredited_Logo_2010

These counties are near Durham NC, whose Destination Marketing Organization (DMO,) led the way several years ago as the first in North Carolina and one of the first two dozen in North America to earn this distinction. Fayetteville and Charlotte DMO’s have also since earned accreditation giving North Carolina five.

I don’t blame DMO’s that shy away from accreditation. The one for DMO’s is much more rigorous than most and few achieve exemplary citations let alone the 11 that ties Durham with one other DMO with the most ever given.

No “good ole boy” pass either. For instance, Durham’s Shelly Green is now on the accreditation board but per policy recused from reviewing or commenting on the applications of direct competitors including Greater Raleigh (Wake County) or Chapel Hill/Orange County.

But I suspect more and more local officials are asking their DMO where it stands with accreditation and well they should. Who wouldn’t be reassured by knowing their community’s DMO has undergone a thorough, independent diagnostic. I sure would if I were an elected official, community or business leader.

In fact, every community’s business and civic leaders should wonder why every economic development-related isn’t accredited. There are reasons behind any inertia that should alarm every community’s leadership, even if it is just laziness.

While some are often private organizations, public money is often involved and regardless they represent the community in some way.

And if an organization’s management or leadership dismisses the importance of accreditation or says something stupid like, “wouldn’t you rather we just do our job?” then, uh, you know your community definitely has a much bigger problem than accreditation.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

5 Ways I Hope Google Shakes Up Travel

Google has invested $700 million in ITA software, used currently by online travel agencies like Expedia, Orbitz etc and meta-search engines like Kayak.googlestickers07

Here are 5 ways Google can shake up these organizations will benefit travel consumers and the destinations that draw them.

  • Google will pay its fair share of local room occupancy and tourism development taxes, realizing it benefits when communities have the resources to be visitor-ready.

  • Google “gets” geography and won’t default one community to another just because they are in the same media area nor will it haphazardly mix and match lists of cities and airports.

  • Google thrives on innovation and improvement and won’t be hamstrung by ‘70’s GDS junk or airport centric searches.

  • Google is big on accurate data and updates and knows you need sources at street level, like DMO’s rather than pawning off polluted third party information.

  • Google knows that destinations drive travel, not hotels or airlines, car rentals or ticket outlets.

Who knows if Google “gets it”, maybe there’s hope for these other businesses who at the inconvenience of travelers stubbornly refuse to change.

Utah Equips Non-Residents To Carry Concealed!

I was born in Idaho but went to college in Utah, although I bleed blue, not red.

In a way I’m not surprised by the NYT’s story today that half of the nearly 242,000 permits granted there to carry a concealed fire arm are quickies granted to non-residents. The state also has reciprocal agreements with 31 states including North Carolina where I live.recip-map

I wonder if that’s what state officials there anticipated when they voted some years back to waive residency requirements along with many others.

Sure, it is the Wild West…but are they sure all of these reciprocal states or even Utah itself is diligent about felony and mental health checks?

I’m not. Nor do I think this was what the Founding Fathers had in mind. But then again, I’m just from Idaho.

With roughly half of homicides committed between people who know one another, and many of those in domestic disputes…nah, no worry, as I’m often told…murderers don’t get gun permits…or do they?

When it comes to domestic violence, it isn’t just felons and those in the mental health system about which we need to worry. Right to bear arms yes…quickie permits, no!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Retailers Ditch Banks To Go It Alone

Can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard recently from businesses and even universities about financing.  Businesses in the black can’t convert from construction and even university buildings with full occupancy and 50% equity are turned down.february-5-1930-the-cash-on-the-sidelines-is-coming-back

Appears the banks are traumatized.

Article in NYT’s today indicates that major retailers aren’t going to wait around.  In an article entitled Retailers Devise Novel Ways To Revive Sales it appears some are even end running the banks to facilitate SBA loans.

As banks sit on the sidelines and the conservatives are determined to repeat the mistake of the 1930’s by ending stimulus too early and the Republicans are playing politics with unemployment benefits, it may be the oft vilified consumption economy to the rescue.

At least its leadership.

And The Reward For Being Honorable Is?

I take them at their word. “Drill Baby Drill” advocates and their talking radio heads now clarify that what they “really” meant was just “offshore” not “deep water” drilling with Sarah Palin even "tweeting" that the current Gulf spill is the result of "extreme greenies."

Uh? UUUUUKay! We try to teach our children values and values is what many of these same folks say they are all about. But I guess they must also include values like waffling, obfuscation, blaming the victim, etc?drill_baby_drill_button-p145075621227932309t5sj_400

But a tragedy like the Gulf seems to bring out a little hypocrite in all of us.

We say we try to teach our children values like admitting their mistakes, apologizing, taking responsibility, making things right…forgiving…


But then, when a corporation and its officials do just that…we just keep “stoning” them in the Biblical sense or watch while they get “stoned”…is that the reward we want our children to see is the result of being “stand up?”

No I’m not going soft on them or excusing the damage this spill could do. I'm not like the Republican Congressman from Texas who publically apologized to BP for the President being too hard on them and then apologized for apologizing. But I also don’t consider myself free of any responsibility.

Nor am I going to quibble about whether the BP apology as the article Unforgiveable did on Sunday in NYT Magazine citing observations an observation that more people appear forgiving when there is no apology at all than those willing if the apology is incomplete. That just reinforces my point in a way that we're inconsistent.

We're becoming jaded and very "picky" about apologies as recently noted in an article entitled Who's Sorry Now? Everyone! noting that these days the meaculpa is mega-cool and providing a series of websites that host apologies or show how to apologize. Something similar appeared in the WSJ.

But more than an apology, however imperfect, is BP's committment to making things right.

Sure, I’m a conservationist when it comes to the environment but I don’t get a pass for that or for being a progressive politically or believing as I fervently do that if we hadn’t hamstrung the officials responsible for regulation, they would have prevented the blow out.

I drive a Jeep and I’m a gadget person who consumes many of the products that probably drive the demand for petroleum. I invest and want a good return. I want my decendents to have even better opportunities than I’ve had.

Along with every American, no matter how frugal or prius, uh, I mean pious, I am a part of this tragedy. If the President can take responsibility, why can’t we?

And maybe it is time we all put down the “stones” of self-righteousness, accept BP’s commitment and roll up our sleeves and put our angst into looking for better energy alternatives….

Oh, I forgot, we’ll still need to find another obsession to feed the 24/7 news monster…

Whatever happened to that pandemic anyway?

But I’m forgetting this is “election” time and there is no time like election time for bumper stickers like “drill baby drill,” more self-righteousness and more “stoning.”

Just what we teach our children, right?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Undocumented, Maybe Deported But Still A Hero!

I’m thinking a lot today about James McCrory, who, undocumented, maybe even deported, landed in this country about 235 years and three days ago today.

Irish, his kind, were vilified by the conservative right in this country through the 1930’s, just as many vilify Hispanics immigrants today. Like many Hispanics today, he almost immediately went to war for this country.600

Like me he settled in North Carolina, about an hours drive west of where I live today. He almost immediately enlisted for a tour in the fight for Independence and then re-enlisted. A success we’re celebrating today.

His tour included the battles of Germantown, Brandywine and Guilford
Courthouse and as an Ensign, a stint in Valley Forge, as one of General Washington's body guards, all along today’s US 202. He re-enlisted and fought here in the Southeast until he was captured by Tarleton’s Dragoons and imprisoned for four months at Wilmington to the south and east of where I live now.

Paroled after four months, he then took a British officer prisoner and turned him over to the American Army. After the war he relocated again, eventually settling in Alabama where he died 65 years after arriving in this country.

James McCrory is my Grandmother’s, Grandmother’s , Grandfather. So if my count is right he’s the Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather to my Grandsons.

He arrived on this continent a century and a half after some of my other ancestors. I’m also not unique , I read on that 60% of Americans have Revolutionary War era roots.

James risked his life for a land he barely knew. But I wonder how welcome he’d be today? I doubt he’d associate with the Tea Party of today or settle in Arizona. And even if he was a Republican, I bet he’d be a progressive in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt.

But I guess the people who formed this country were essentially all progressives, seeking change and making things better. No status quo NIMBY’s then although it was not nearly as tidy as we like to think it was. Plenty of partisan gridlock.

I’m proud and grateful to be among the many descendents of James McCrory and grateful today in particular for his sacrifices. Here’s to all of the immigrant “James’s” fighting for this country’s values today and who I fear may not feel nearly as welcomed or honored here as he did.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Once He Was Like My Brother

I spotted the familiar tail identification during a visit many years ago to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Apparently (on loan there from the Smithsonian) it was one of the fighter planes in the squadron in which Captain George F. White flew during a couple of tours and more than 300 air combat missions, most over North Vietnam.

He was like a brother growing up but we lost touch as he went to Utah State University and then into the Air Force. Telling was the AK on the tail and the important red/white markings, noting it was rotated among pilots in the 389th TFS of the 366 TFW at Da Nang Air Base. It appears in family photographs.

01726_p_aaeuyfyqe1750_z Just 7 years older than me and the youngest of my Mother’s siblings, George F. White was really my uncle but more like a brother as I was growing up.

I’m sure I was pesky but Ferd (he went by his middle name with family) always took me with him on adventures during frequent visits, sometimes just to the basement to look through my Grandfather’s National Geographic magazines for well, you know what, or thumbing through Ian Fleming’s racy James Bond novels.

We hunted Magpies, on which there was then a bounty in Idaho, 7 cents if I remember correctly. We burned our fingers misusing "caps.” We had sword fights using giant hypodermic needles designed for livestock until my Grandfather found out when I lodged one in the palm of Ferd’s hand.Reyn and Ferd

As was his way, Ferd didn’t show much emotion. Great sense of humor but no emotion, ever.

I inherited most of his hand-me-downs including an old rusty bike with huge balloon tires, perfect for learning to ride on the downhill gravel road next to our ranch house.

When he worked summers on our ranch, we built model airplanes at night sitting around the kitchen table and then blew them up in flight laden with firecrackers.

Then we lost touch. The seven year gap in our ages was exagerated when I reached 12 and he was finishing high school. He had always wanted to be a pilot and it ultimately consumed him. Maybe it was something to do with earning the Bronze Star or the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters or the Air Medal with 26. But I think it was the adrenalin that consumed him along with nearly all of his personal relationships.389th_Fighter_Squadron

He was bored and felt lost following the war and unable to fly for the airlines because of an ear drum damaged in an explosion. We never reconnected after he got back and just before he turned 30 he was accepted and trained as a Special Agent pilot for what is now the DEA, Drug Enforcement Agency and then called the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Before his death in a plane crash in Arizona he was awarded a Special Achievement Award for his work on the notorious Dominguez crime Family a6d0_35of Sonora, Mexico.

He was the 18th Agent killed in the Agency’s history, one of three in just 1973 alone. But since Ferd was killed, 62 more agents have died in the line of duty.

It is dangerous work, the kind, I think, that made Ferd feel alive. He also died doing the two things he loved, flying, while serving our country but the Ferd I had known probably died somewhere over North Vietnam during all of those combat missions. I wish I had asked more questions.

We never really talked much after he returned from Vietnam, even while roofing my Grandfather’s garage one summer. I was in college and trying my best to get around a draft rejection and enlist. Feelings had turned against the war including his own, at least under the limitations it was being fought. I even tried his route, an end run through ROTC but got rejected there too. I know he thought I was crazy and so do I now.

I'm proud of him and Ferd often crosses my mind along with the memories of when he was like my older brother. Especially at this time of year when he seems so emblematic of a lot of people fighting for our country.

But I deeply regret that at some level, I never really knew him. To all the Captain White's out there, thank you, come home safe and bring your soul back with you.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Two Perspectives on Trees

I grew up one the mile high plateaus of the Rocky Mountains. Plenty of trees but the West is much more arid than where I live now in Durham NC and it took much longer or them to grow.

So I’m always a little taken aback when I run into people who want to clear cut around their homes or don’t appear to value the lush tree canopy we have here.dukenfromknox_may1938

Then when I saw these two photos on a friend’s blog, Endangered Durham, one taken in 1938 and the other in the present, of a location not far from where I used to live on Knox Street, I could sense a different perspective.

It reminded me of the day on Knox Street when I was raking leaves, lots of Oak tree leaves and my neighbor from across the street came over. He had lived there many decades.dukenorthfromknox_062110

Then along came a man in his ‘90’s who lived up the street. He began using his arms to show me how to prune the Abelia hedge along the drive pointing his hands inward, vs. outward as I had pruned it. He then volunteered that had built that house in 1936 while working as a postman.

Then both men, almost simultaneously looked up at towering 60 foot Oak trees and in unison said, “the house looked just as good before those trees were there."

It was hard for me to believe they had been there before the trees let alone envision the house without them. But one has since been taken down by disease I notice and judging from these photos, they will grow back a lot faster than they would in the Teton-Yellowstone corner of my native Idaho.