Merced like a world class city
May 18, 2017
note: Last week, in a news story, we introduced Eric Moore,
who heads up a volunteer city beautification effort called
Paint The Town. He also worked on a “Master Welcome
Sign” report over the past year that offers insight
into the current City of Merced process to come up with
a strategy about creating new entryway signs. The Times
asked him about his views on some of the issues.
the purpose of this Welcome Sign effort?
The project has three purposes if done properly with an
The first purpose is about local leadership sincerely and
effectively engaging local peoples in an ongoing manner
and allowing them to participate in this creative process.
Merced is filled with many creative people that have something
important to say about their home. It's time to let local
peoples positively impact their community in an open and
notorious way. This is what a ‘Community of Belonging’
is all about. … Merced's people need to be shaken-up
and their intentions directed to reviving ownership over
their families, homes, neighborhoods and community spirit.
The world wants to hear Merced say something inspiring and
positive. In this regard, welcome signs are a reflection
of something bigger - Merced's identity – not just
a highway billboard. Merced must rediscover its identity
to effectively brand itself with welcome signs.
The second purpose is to simply organize and drive local
commerce. People entering the county and city are given
little information about where to go to find the city center,
county attractions, the Farmers Market/Fair Grounds, the
Yosemite Corridor, UC Merced/Merced College, or know something
about Merced spirit. I've lived in Merced on and off for
10 years. I still don't know what exit to take off US99
that takes me to the city center and County Courthouse.
In time Campus Parkway and University Village will evolve
into important commercial corridors – maybe a separate
city - eclipsing the traditional City Center. The city collected
extra money from downtown businesses for years, yet there
is still no sign that tells a traveler how to get there,
relax and spend money. What a tragedy. The new and the old
need to be joined in spirit to put Merced on the map in
new effective commercial ways. I want to see people from
Turlock get in their cars and drive to Merced on Friday/Saturday
night and spend money. What do we need to do as an organized
and sharing community to make that happen? Welcome signs
are a start to tell people Merced is where they want to
be. The county and all cities can use this project to produce
new effective working relationships and share cogent economic
development ideas. At least that is what other California
The third purpose is create the best Welcome Signs in California
and otherwise make Merced a world-class Open City filled
with generous adventurous people and celebrate that spirit.
Yosemite National Park receives over 4 million visitors
annually. Merced touts itself as the “Gateway to Yosemite,”
yet does nothing to capture this important regional visitor
traffic and revenue. It's a normal and customary activity
for local business and community groups to take pride and
ownership in calling Merced home. Indeed, site-selectors
want to see local peoples and commerce engaged and empowered.
Merced is a world class agricultural powerhouse and basic
science research community. It's natural to take this welcome
sign opportunity and make it remarkable in every way with
honesty, goodness and meaning for the benefit of all peoples.
It's time to stop being afraid of apprehending and sharing
Merced's remarkable place and opportunities. Merced might
just be the most exciting city in California's future.
impressions should these signs convey?
A welcome sign is an invitation – an invitation to
work, thrive and explore a new place, not just be welcomed
to a happy home. The entire process of building creative
and effective welcome signs is an invitation by local leaders
to invite our people into the process of sharing information
and building an attachment to Merced. After that practice
is established, the idea of sharing information and spirit
with new people is an important cornerstone to healthy commerce,
investment and growth. Welcoming people to Merced is not
just about telling them where they are spatially, but indeed
to tell them they have arrived at a special place that they
can grasp and make for themselves a vibrant home and adventurous
community. To welcome all to Merced is to invite everyone
along an inspired heroic journey to make their life, intention
and time remarkable for themselves and others.
they about making a statement, or more informational, or
This is the exciting thing – it's a blank canvas.
How do you balance “information” with “decoration?”
The prior welcome sign between Merced and Atwater were jumbled
words on a blue background that communicated disorganization
amid an uninspiring background on an unlit sign. Merced
can do better. Its people demand better. There are all kinds
of clever aesthetics and psychologies that can be exploited
and deployed by local stakeholders. The ideas and needs
of south Merced are different than downtown business owners,
which are different than UC Merced students — yet
each has an important role to play across the city and county.
Paint the Town has enormous ideas to attack these challenges,
but we see our role more to inspire and facilitate others
to forge our Community of Belonging.
you consider these signs more like monuments?
With all the regional investment, Merced is at a crossroads.
It can limb into the same disorganized and uninspired efforts
that earned it a lowly-ranked reputation, or it can consider
these welcome signs to be an important public art opportunity
for the benefit and enjoyment of all. Ultimately this project
and the dozens to follow is about joyfully sharing Merced
with strangers and each other and building a Community of
Belonging. To that I would like to see these welcome signs
to be monuments to local people's dignity, ingenuity and
empowerment and fearlessly telling the world all about it.
After all, any schmo can live in Modesto.