Monday, January 26, 2015

We Who Must Not Be Named

There's a villain in the Harry Potter books that most of the characters refer to as "He Who Must Not Be Named." They're so afraid of and intimidated by this villain that they think it will bring evil upon themselves just to say his name aloud. The hero finally convinces everyone that to deal with their fears, they have to face them, and that just saying "Voldemort" isn't going to hurt anyone.

Since I started this Diary, I've been amazed how many people I've run across in town who shy away from using the N-word -- that's right, "Norristown." They think it will somehow damage the reputation of their business or organization or even themselves personally. For instance, I recently came across two businesses out on Johnson Highway, on the Norristown side of the road, who list their locations as "East Norriton" on social media. Because God forbid anyone should know they're actually 30 yards over the border, on tainted ground.

But I'm happy to say that I know of many more business and groups who are proud to let people know their association with Norristown.

Apex Darts, manufacturing in N-town for over 100 years and respected all over the world, still puts our town name on their product and on the boxes they come in.

Zachary's BBQ will soon be selling their delicious barbecue sauces worldwide. They put "Norristown, PA" right on the front label of each jar.

Strategic Wear not only isn't afraid to put "Norristown" on the front of some of their clothing, but encourages residents to show their Norristown pride by wearing them.

Our most active organizations, doing the most good for N-town are ones like Norristown Men of Excellence, Norristown Area CTC, Norristown Preservation Society, Greater Norristown PAL, Norristown Business Association, The Norristown Project, etc. The reason they're successful is that their passion and pride in our community is the energy behind their accomplishments.

I've been to meetings of many groups these last 2 years who waste a lot of precious time just trying to think of a name for themselves. They're the ones who always seem to tiptoe around the word "Norristown." If you don't really believe in the community, or if you're overly influenced by those who keep saying Norristown will never amount to anything and that everyone should be ashamed of the place, you're not going to be able to act.

We need people to act right now. We don't need residents and businesses so stigmatized they won't even admit they're from Norristown. Sure, our borough has problems, but we don't have problems BECAUSE we're Norristown. All of our problems--crime, bad economy, you name it--have been experienced by other communities across America since the 1970s. As the general US economy improves, a lot of those other communities are improving, too. No reason we can't follow suit.

Norristown isn't under some special dark cloud. There isn't toxic waste leeching out of our soil. No underground coal fires. No dust bowls. No sink hole swallowing us up. We never had a curse put on us. (Even if we did, we could put a spin on it and use it as a tourism pull.)

There's nothing wrong with Norristown that hasn't happened elsewhere--nothing wrong that can't be fixed. But it WON'T be fixed if we waste time trying to avoid the N-word. 

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