A playful community

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Is Los Alamos a playful community? In my 28 years here, I’ve seen we are. Not just in the participation in outdoor and indoor recreation of all kinds by people of all ages, nor in the huge volunteer support of programs from PEEC to robotics competitions to youth and teen activities, but in the very science and engineering that is practiced at the lab.
Most of those R&D 100 awards for significant scientific inventions that Lab researchers earn every year come from workers taking extra time to apply the methods and ideas used for the Lab’s national security work, to new applications: creative and productive play. That playful spirit is one of the things that I’ve found makes this town such an attractive place to live.
The branding study that County Council just accepted was an attempt to identify how Los Alamos is perceived by ourselves and those around us: what do we think we are and would like to be; how well do we communicate that, and how can we communicate it better?
These are important questions for us to ask and answer, if we want to grow in a good way as a community. If one goes to the county website and reads in detail the results that were presented (Council Agenda Packet, May 6, 2014), you’ll recognize our community, warts and all. A very positive brand platform is proposed: “For those who never stop questioning what’s possible, Los Alamos County, in the elevated outdoors of northern New Mexico and home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is where some of the world’s best brains power the breakthroughs that shape /our world...so you are challenged to think bigger and live brighter.” Branding and “straplines” (e.g. “live exponentially”) are an attempt to make an emotional connection, and motivate people to spend some extra time to look at us further.
A little “over the top” is OK, as long as we can deliver, when potential visitors or investors take a closer look (and we certainly have some work to do to make this a community that can deliver on those aspirations).
Council has not dictated that “live exponentially” shall be our county strapline. That is for the community to decide; I will recommend that we take community input on the county website’s “Open Forum” feature. Some have already voiced the opinion that use of the word “exponentially” is too arrogant or technical, and suggested other phrases that try to capture the science plus the spirit of adventure that we have here.
Great — let’s play with these ideas. We are a creative, energetic community with a lot to offer. Let’s find the words that best tell people what we are.
Pete Sheehey
Los Alamos County