- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Feb. 2, 2016

At the crossroads

If you ever doubt the power of a logo, ask a kid whether he wants the shoes with the leaping cat, the ones with the diagonally rising black bars or ones with the “swoosh” on the side.

Odds are, that swoosh will have a powerful influence.

The first running shoe with the Nike logo came out in 1972. Today, the logo is known worldwide, but back then it was just a creation of a college student who was paid $35 to make it happen.

Supporters of Springdale’s efforts to remake the community and build more positive perceptions of the city want to make it happen, too. The Springdale Chamber of Commerce last week unveiled a new logo for the city.

It’s a step in the right direction.

The logo features green lines forming the shape of a diamond with light and dark blue lines criss-crossing in the middle. It includes Springdale’s name and the tagline “We’re making it happen.”

The “it” in that statement represents a whole host of new developments for the city, from a revival of downtown Springdale still in its infancy to the possibilities for development around Arvest Ballpark to, well, any of the driving forces behind a city building a brighter future for itself and its residents.

In one sense, designing a logo for any company or government entity is a risky endeavor. No matter what, some people just won’t get it. Bryce Harrison, associate creative director for the marketing and public relations firm CJRW, said the logo’s green diamond signifies nature, the light blue lines represent water and the crossing of lines in the diamond signifies a crossroads. The idea of the crossroads speaks to the Springdale’s location, where U.S. 412 and Interstate 49 meet, said Perry Webb, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer.

Almost inevitably when a new logo is offered, some will take one look and respond with, “That’s it?”

As the story goes, when Nike co-founder Phil Knight first saw Carolyn Davidson’s proposal for the Nike “swoosh,” his response was “Well, I don’t love it, but maybe it will grow on me.”

Such is the infancy of just about any logo. It’s only after they become embedded in the public mind that their value finds widespread appreciation.

Any institution that relies on nurturing a perception in the mind of its customers or the public at-large can benefit from a well-designed logo. The question always becomes what qualifies as well designed. No logo will satisfy everyone’s inner artist.

Springdale’s drive to polish, reform and promote a particular set of images and emotions is smart business. To the extent the city can unify its promotional efforts under one logo, the better it will be able to influence how the city is perceived. That doesn’t come overnight and involves a lot of moving pieces, but creating a cohesiveness in marketing will pay long-term dividends.

The future is looking bright for the city of Springdale and its population. If the city has ever come to a crossroads such as that depicted in the new logo, it appears its leaders chose the right path.

When it comes to communities, however, future success never relies on one decision when two potential paths cross. Springdale will face many more crossroads in its future, just as it has in its past. The quality of its leadership and how well the community embraces opportunity is what will matter. A logo will only represent the results of the work done within the community.

And when Springdale is thriving, everyone involved can continue to say “We’re making it happen.”

___

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Feb. 1, 2016

Teach for Arkansas

What can you say about folks who’ll open up their checkbooks to help educate kids they don’t even know, and probably won’t ever know? Maybe it’s impossible to say. For who knows how many thousands of kids they’ll touch in the years to come? And how all those kids’ lives will be affected in the future.

The governor announced last week that he’s drawing $3 million from the governor’s discretionary fund to add as many as 150 Teach For America teachers in the southern and eastern parts of the state. At the same time, at the same news conference, businessmen in Little Rock announced they’ve also raised $3 million—to fund Teach For America teachers in Little Rock.

First, thank you, Governor Hutchinson. Families of untold numbers of kids have just been given good news. These Teach For America types are real go-getters, many from the best colleges in America. Just what many small and poor communities need. Based on their record in Arkansas over almost 20 years, they really do make a difference. They insist on making differences. As you would expect from well-educated young people on a mission.

Also, no doubt it took some work for Baker Kurrus and Johnny Key to pull this off for Little Rock’s schools. (Teach For America has never had teachers in Little Rock.) Teach For America doesn’t go where it isn’t asked to go, and the superintendent and education commissioner had to have waded through the usual complaints by anyone fearing change, including teachers unions.

And here’s to everybody from Little Rock who donated that $3 million. For years, for decades, the rest of the state has sent extra money to Little Rock’s schools. This time, Little Rock didn’t ask the rest of the state for a penny. Little Rock will be funding its TFA teaches with private funds so the state money can go to the rural parts of this great state. Call it a little payback. And maybe a turning point.

We can’t say enough about all the Teach For America types we’ve met over the years. From the classroom teachers to those running the program. They make the world a better place—a handful of kids, a handful of families, a handful of communities at a time.

Those who’ve promoted, helped, encouraged - and sponsored - them are making an important investment in public schools for a brighter future for Little Rock and Arkansas.

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