Local Commentary

Editorial: Funky, Happy, Forward Thinking

The official “branding” process underway to help succinctly describe the core identity of the City of Falls Church began in earnest with a meeting of citizen activists representing a diverse cross-section of interests in the City earlier this month.

What emerged over the course of a lively two-hour discussion, directed by the F.C.-based Smith-Gifford marketing agency retained to spearhead the effort, was a surprising degree of general consensus. It is hoped that will translate into a professionally-crafted logo, perhaps a slogan, and especially the proverbial “elevator speech,” one that can be delivered in 30 seconds or less, about what Falls Church is, represents, and aspires to.

In other words, the laundry list of “13 Things to Love About Falls Church” strung out in a recent editorial in this space needs to be boiled down to a more encompassing, singular image that will convey to the general public, and to Falls Church citizens alike, what the City is.

While we have our own sense of what this is, we do not feel, based on the meeting this month, that it is in contradiction with any others expressed there, only differences based on slight nuances of emphasis.

Location, of course, is a key virtue that the City has, located adjacent major transportation corridors that link the entire Washington, D.C. region, including Metro, interstate highway and airport connections. But, as was pointed out in the meeting, that is defining the City in terms of factors outside of it (i.e. being proximate to something else), rather than from within. While the City may also aspire to be unlike Tysons Corner or some other image perceived as unsavory, that also is defining it in terms of an outside point of reference, rather than from within.

Most important to the facets internal to the City’s 2.2 square miles are some unique prevalent institutions and people. “History” inside the City limits is not a big deal, as it is shared throughout the region, and also, whenever one digs too deep into Virginia history, unpleasantries such as the role of slavery and racism tend to come up. “Green” aspects are also not unique. We see three unique facets which, if rolled into one, could form the basis for a fresh City identity. In short, they are: 1. the Eden Center, the dominant center of Vietnamese-American culture on the entire eastern seaboard, 2. the State Theatre, one of the metro region’s premiere live music venues, and 3. an increasingly young, professional population exhibiting a distinct support for equal justice and the diversity of all classes of society, which can be defined in terms of sociologist Richard Florida’s famous term, “the Creative Class.”

All three of these are entirely in concert with one another in terms of a common spirit that can be enhanced by the mere recognition of that fact. The new art nouveau “flower building” going up in the 800 block of West Broad, to become the City’s new Post Office, is a perfect symbol of this funky, happy, forward-thinking place.