Ottney: Yule do betterWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | email@example.com
On Dec. 17, city officials unveiled the first of 55 planned “You Will Do Better in Toledo” signs, which will be installed at city entry points over the next few weeks.
The black and white road signs are modeled after the original display, which debuted 101 years ago on Dec. 17, 1913. That one topped Valentine Theatre and featured the slogan spelled out in lights.
“This sign demonstrated the viability and vitality of this great city 100 years ago, a city with a Downtown that was booming, where entrepreneurism flourished,” Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said afterward.
“As you come off the turnpike and you’re coming into Toledo, perhaps this is something that will capture the attention of those who are not familiar with Toledo,” he said. “You will do better in Toledo. It was proven 100 years ago and we’re going to prove it in 2015 and every year there forward.”
John Amato, owner of Jupmode, a Perrysburg-based screen-printing company whose flagship T-shirt design features the slogan, was among those who advocated for the installation of the signs. He attended the unveiling and said it’s “surreal” to see the slogan beside the street.
“It’s just really neat to see so many people get behind the slogan, because it really is about the city as a whole, the pride we have in the area, the optimism we have right now,” Amato said.
The slogan has organically dovetailed into Toledo Region Branding Initiative’s official slogan, “It Matters Where You Make It.”
“Everybody talks about how a city has to have an identification. It’s all part of marketing and labeling,” Collins said. “To market, you have to label. To label, you have to be able to capture a difference and this is the best way to do it.”
Collins also hopes the message makes its way to Chrysler, which is deciding the future of Jeep Wrangler production in Toledo.
“[We want to] demonstrate to Fiat Chrysler that it matters where you make it,” Collins said. “In January I’ll be going up to Auburn Hills to speak with Mr. [CEO Sergio] Marchionne and this is the type of message I’m going to give.”
The idea for the signs evolved last winter after Amato, with Dustin Hostetler of Grumpy’s and Adam Sattler of The Ottawa Tavern, met with Collins to discuss the possibility of rebuilding the original sign. Instead, Collins suggested the welcome signs.
He announced the initiative during his Dec. 9 State of the City address. Afterward, he said he thinks the signs represent a step in the right direction.
“We’ve been a government that’s been reactive instead of where I really wanted to be and that was to be more proactive in terms of giving us a different direction,” he told me. “I’m hoping in 2015 we can take those dynamic steps to redefine Toledo.”
Not everyone is a fan of the slogan.
“I hate to be the one to say this but ‘You will do better in Toledo’ is incredibly lame. Better than what?” a Facebook friend posted.
“Respectfully, what is the point? There is no discernible plan that I can find to help do better here. Are the signs magic?” a Twitter follower asked.
Yes, an actionable plan is needed. But basic civic pride is a good foundation to build on. I love that residents and community leaders are embracing Toledo for what it is while dreaming of what it could be.
This is a time of year when magical thinking is embraced and disbelief suspended.
On Jan. 2, the sparkle of the season will begin to fade for another year and we’ll all have to face the new year and its challenges head on.
The holidays bring a uniquely mixed bag of emotions. Many local households will be full of joyful reunions, twinkling lights, overflowing tables and bountiful gifts. But thousands are without food, clothing, housing or are missing a loved one. A family in Sylvania is burying their 19-year-old son, Zachary Wagenhauser, killed in a car crash Dec. 16. Firefighter Jamie Dickman’s widow is preparing for their son’s first birthday on Christmas Day.
Amanda Aldrich and her Resolve Toledo “sisters” are bracing themselves for more bad news from their fertility specialists and preparing to spend the holiday season surrounded by well-meaning but often hurtful friends and relatives. Some of these women have bravely shared their stories with us in these pages.
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Thank you for reading and happy holidays.
Sarah Ottney is Editor in Chief at Toledo Free Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sarahottney.