What do you think Bainbridge’s city motto should be?

After 18 months of work, extensive market research, and input from a 32-member “brand development task force,” the state of Washington changed the official tourism motto from “Experience Washington” to “SayWA.” That little tidbit of information tells you everything you ever need to know about “market research” and the efficacy of a 32-member task force.

Perhaps you, like me, were surprised to learn that the state even had an official tourism motto. If that is indeed the case, then I suspect you would be further surprised to learn that many cities have their own mottos.

Wenatchee, for example, calls itself the “Apple Capital of the World.” Aiming a little lower, Sumner calls itself the “Rhubarb Pie Capital of the United States.” Colville claims, apparently without any supporting empirical evidence, to be “Washington’s Most Livable City.” Kenmore opted for geographic practicality when it selected “By the Lake” as its motto, while Issaquah went with the fuzzy warmth-greeting card sentiment approach and selected “A Special Place, Where People Care.”

Renton’s motto is “Ahead of the Curve”, which may be intended to refer to both its technological advancement and its location vis a vis Interstate 90. Auburn’s motto is “More than You Imagined,” which for many of us was admittedly not much. Kelso is the “City of Friendly People,” and Ilwaco’s motto is “By Land or by Sea.” I would have opted for “Put Silk on a Goat and it’s Still a Goat” but that’s just me. Can you guess which Washington County’s motto is “Bent-on Success”?

Once you get outside of Washington, city mottos become downright weird.

As just a couple of examples, Genoa, Nevada, is known as “The Home of the Candy Dance,” and Hastings, Nebraska, calls itself “The Birthplace of Kool-Aid.”

People who help cities select mottos say it is part of a community’s overall brand. It establishes the face the city shows to outsiders, serves as a tool to lure businesses and tourists, and provides an opportunity to reinforce a good reputation or combat a bad one.

With those thoughts in mind, it seems to me high time that Bainbridge Island jumps on the branding bandwagon and selects its own community motto. I have a couple of suggestions I’d like to pull out of my hat and toss into the ring for consideration on the condition that I be exempt from serving on any 32-person Motto Task Force Committee.

Here in no particular order, are my preliminary suggestions for an appropriate motto for our fair city:

“An island, a city, a state of mind.”

“Bird Flu Free Since 1972.”

“Scramble the word Bainbridge and you get: ‘Big Brained’”

“We Put the Bain in Bainbridge and Took the Slow out of Winslow”

“Chillin in B-Town”

“The Maui of the Mid Sound”

“Home of Frog Rock”

“Only One McDonalds”

“Birkenstocks, Berets and BMWs”

“Not as Arrogant as Bellevue”

“Honorary Home of the SOLO P-325 Hot Cup”

“If You Lived on the Ferry, You’d Be Home by Now.”

“Cell Phone Capital of the Western World”

“More Than a City, Less Than a Principality, But Not By Much”


I think you get the idea. Feel free to run with any one of them, or perhaps opt for a “Motto of the Month” approach. It’s all good.

Tom Tyner writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper. This is from his “Classics File.”