With each letter to the editor about disliking SoBu, I wanted to respond with a resounding “I agree.” But it was the letter about disliking our city name that prompted me to write.
I’ve long wished our city had a name that held some deeper meaning other than relating to a geographic location and a past association with another city. Names are powerful. They often define and shape us. Words evoke images that can prompt feelings and actions.
Oftentimes, city names are reminiscent of the past or reflective of the present. But a city name can also be aspirational. I think it would be a fun and creative process to engage South Burlington residents in coming up with a name they’d like to have associated with our city. Whether or not city officials ever decide to discuss a name change, it would be insightful to see how residents view our city and its future.
Depending on where one is in South Burlington, one could associate names like Congestion, Intersection, Crossroads, Sprawl and Suburbia — or Mountainviews, Lakeviews, Tranquility, Serenity and Beauty. I prefer the last few names and would relish having the entire city match these atmospheres.
The issue of cost was mentioned regarding changing names. With a two-word city name with the same initials, costs could be reduced. Some “S and B” examples are So, Special, Splendid, Shady, Sprawling, Stable; and Burg, Borough, Busy, Balanced, Bucolic, Buenos, Bountiful, Beautiful. What one or two words predict our city’s future?
We wouldn’t need to hire outside consultants or spend a lot of money. Conducting an online survey using the new Consensus app or posting a link to Survey Monkey would do. And, unlike the past effort, this time more residents could be involved with an online click or tap.
Even if the majority of South Burlington residents don’t want to change names, or the cost of changing is too prohibitive, the exercise of re-imagining a new name for our city would be a learning experience.
A new name, or even thinking about a new name, could identify our vision, shape our future and help us become what we want to be.
If nothing else, finding out what others think about SoBu and changing our name will let those of us who dislike SoBu, and/or are dissatisfied with our current name, know we are not alone.