Friday, November 9, 2007

It's Worth It, Part Deux

In response to my post about the new Houston It's Worth It book and the underlying "Houston. It's Worth It" campaign, Mamacita writes:
That actually strikes me as an ill-advised booster campaign.

Mamacita is usually right about these things, and I am usually tone-deaf. However ill-advised the campaign might be, though, I still like it because it succinctly captures my attitude to the city and the problem I have with typical Houston civic boosters.

It is true that Houston isn't Shangri-La, and it isn't for many of the reasons ticked off in the "Houston. It's Worth It" list: the mosquitoes, the humidity, the traffic, and so forth. But no place is without its downside. I like Houston in spite of and in some cases because of its imperfections. This isn't to say that there aren't things about the city that I would like to change, just that I view the city in its totality and that I understand that some of the things that I like about it and dislike about it are inextricably linked.

What bothers me about most Houston civic boosters is that they either feel obligated to apologize for all the things that are less than perfect about the city ("Yes, the traffic is a disgrace, but NASA is close by!") or, deep down, they are ashamed of the city and want to turn it into something it's not ("We need to make Houston world-class!", as if Houston isn't world-class already). I want to live in Houston, not Austin or Dallas or New York or San Francisco. There may be things that Houston can learn from each of those cities, but Houston ought to stay Houston.

I like Houston, warts and all, and I want civic boosters who like Houston, warts and all. The people at "Houston. It's Worth It" do, and that's why I like the campaign, whether it's successful generally or not.

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