PILOT EDITORIAL - Storm Lake: the city so nice, they named it twice

Monday, September 10, 2001

As controversies go, it is a grand one to have.

There has been some heated debate lately about what the motto of Storm Lake should be - "The City Beautiful" as coined many years ago, or "The World's Hometown," as adopted this year by the local chamber of commerce to reflect on the city's cultural diversification.

Both have their supporters, and both have a nice "ring" to them.

How grand it is that our community has such vitality and pride that our matter of contention of the moment can be the choice between two mottos of its different attributes... Are we appropriately appreciative of the fact that we are not caught up in raging unemployment, pollution, blight, class conflict and so on that afflict so many other cities - so that we are freed up to argue about such a lovely, positive topic?

Let us say for the record that when we first reported on the motto, "The World's Hometown," it was not coined to degrade or replace "The City Beautiful." That lilting original motto is such a part of our heritage that you couldn't separate it from Storm Lake with a crowbar, and it is in no way endangered.

The chamber was looking for a catchy way to help promote the community; Dick Hakes, we believe it was, mentioned something along this line, and the others liked it and used it. It got picked up for the RAGBRAI theme too, where some of the cultural diversity of Storm Lake was showed off to thousands of visitors (as well as the "Beautiful" part).

It is a delicious bit of irony, since so many outsiders used to criticize Storm Lake for the very thing it is now seeking to celebrate. Literally, we may not have the world in our hometown; but we have 36 nationalities of origin represented here, at last count; pretty impressive.

One could suggest that there is room for two mottos, that use of either need not exclude the essence of the other. Nahhhh...

Heck, we're not here to suggest a truce. Let the debate go on as long and as loud as it likes. What an incredibly healthy situation it is to have so many good things to be said of a community that people have trouble choosing.

Of course, there are still needs and opportunities here to put our efforts where our mouths and mottos are. The "Beautiful" of this city can be assured for many more generations if we volunteer for projects to further spruce up our neighborhoods, bring swans back from the brink of extinction, add an aqua center, and of course push for more attention for our priceless lake, to name but a few.

And the "Hometown" benefits when we step forward to help in education, get to know our neighbors of all backgrounds and skin tones, create an all-inclusive community center, help to build solid Habitat for Humanity homes and so on.

Mottos are great; action is even better.

Let the sweet debate go on, and at the same time we talk up "The City Beautiful" and "The World's Hometown," we have an opportunity to recommit ourselves also to work in our own small ways to ensure that the scenic beauty, and the multicolored human beauty, gets much more than lip service in this special place.