As far as I know, the origins of Bellingham, Washington‘s unofficial nickname — The City of Subdued Excitement — are a mystery.
Some claim it derives from a locally famous mural on the side of an antique shop downtown, painted in 1994, and yet others swear that the nickname significantly predates the mural.
Regardless, most people who visit or live here pick up on our subdued vibe and enjoy it.
And yet, various efforts are underway to un-subdue Bellingham, an idea that I strongly oppose.
About a month ago, the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, a non-profit organization self-described thusly (my emphasis added in bold):
The Partnership is the best source of information on upcoming events, public policies, and opportunities for downtown. We work closely with the City of Bellingham to provide leadership in the development of public policy that affects downtown, and we generate solutions to ensure downtown retains its vibrancy, life, and culture.
…hired a new Executive Director, Nick Hartrich, who, in a subsequent interview, said:
We need to set a trajectory to un-subdue our urban core.
What the what?!
Their About page says they generate solutions to retain Bellingham’s vibrancy, life, and culture, and yet, Mr. Hartrich wants to un-subdue.
How is that retaining?!
Subdued excitement is an integral part of Bellingham life and culture, and we’ve managed to earn spots, often near the top, on those ubiquitous ‘best places’ lists, in magazines and on websites, especially lists focusing on outdoor activities and retirement, partly on the basis of our unique subdued character.
To be fair, most of the ideas Mr. Hartrich shares in the interview are good ones, and none of them seem in conflict with subdued excitement.
I simply fail to see the need, therefore, for his “un-subdue” language.
This morning, I came across an article in the Bellingham Herald that couldn’t do a better job of capturing our subduedness (again, my emphasis added in bold):
Reminder: Bellingham officials look for new big event to draw tourism, business
BELLINGHAM — The city still is looking for ideas for a new “signature event” that will bring tourists to town to fill up hotel rooms and boost business, as well as highlight the many things Bellingham has going for it.
Applicants have less than two weeks left to submit their ideas for events that are unlike anything already done here or in nearby cities: The deadline to turn in proposals is 5 p.m. Feb. 13.
No one had turned in a proposal as of Friday, Jan. 30.
Let’s see…a new, big, signature event…um…well…we could…um…
…oh, never mind.