Outside Validation for our “Causes”


In reading Revue West Michigan I came across Stad DiPonzi’ s Mean & Sober column (Download magazine here).  The article starts out with this

“ One of West Michigan’s least-endearing qualities is our apparent unquenchable thirst for outside validation.  It is with Sally Field-like abandon that The Right Place proclaims every cheesy top 10 list we seem to stumble onto (“Strom Drain Daily Loves GR’s Grates”).  The ever-needy nerd squad at Urban Planet even has a forum dedicated to mentions of GR in external media.”

Although this was obviously written tongue and cheek, it is an interesting statement and one that got me thinking.  Outside validation is a big deal, and getting recognized for positives attributes is very important.  In fact, I think that everyone has something which they identify with (school, region, city, organization) which when validated by outside media, you get excited.  Even for myself I am a dead ringer for this, here is my list of “causes” which I identify with:

  • Ukrainian
  • Alumni of University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
  • Grew up in Chicagoland
  • Live in Holland, MI
  • Working Grand Rapids, MI
  • Live in State of Michigan
  • Write for a little known blog

So anytime one of my “causes” gets mentioned in a positive light by outside or mainstream media, I get excited, giddy even.  I am so used to my “causes” being portrayed incorrectly or negatively, which sucks, and I get quite tired of that. For example:

  • Ukrainian – Eggs, The,
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) – being known as a hyphen school and a lousy basketball team
  • Chicago – Al Capone (totally true told a cabby in Germany I was form Chicago, and he makes a gun out of his hand and starts shooting), and always behind New York and Los Angeles
  • Holland, MI – Cheap, Conservative, Religious, Dutch
  • Grand Rapids, MI -Cheap, Conservative, Religious, Dutch
  • Michigan – Rarely mentioned in a positive light
  • Write for a little known blog – I am a blogger enough said

There is a reason to get excited when your “cause” is acknowledged, recommended, or written about.  It is exciting and it helps validate everything you already know, and allows you to share your “cause” with everyone else.  Not to mention you can speak more confidently to others, because it is not just your opinion but someone elses.  So instead of focusing on the bad or the negatives why not embrace the positives.  Why not get excited?

Here is my list of positives

So tell me what are your “causes” and share with us the positives.

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6 responses to “Outside Validation for our “Causes”

  1. I wanted to read the article before commenting, but wasn’t willing to clutter my computer with a downloaded issue. A note to the Revue staff: Storage is cheap. People will be more likely to read back issues of your mag if they can search, click then read. More readers=more eyeballs. More eyeballs=more potential for ad revenue. Just a thought.

    Anyway, Stad’s complaint is silly. Any town will trumpet any positive press it gets. Any business will do the same. This is in no way unique to West Michigan. As towns are in the business of attempting to draw tourists and transplants (revenue), it would be foolish and irresponsible of businesses owners or elected officials to pass up free kudos, no matter how esoteric.

    There are plenty of things to love about West Michigan, and some things to loathe as well. To manufacture an issue is the worst sort of lazy writing. Come to think of it, attempting to stir up a bit of controversy by manufacturing an issue is, in essence, the author wanting people to notice him, not notice his observations: this is a very needy grasp for outside validation.

    • Thanks Tom for your thoughts, and you are right on about how towns and businesses would be stupid not to “toot their own horn” with positive press.

      Oh the column is on page 8 for anyone hunting for it in Revue.

  2. Pingback: Sorting Out Twitter Hashtags in Holland (Michigan) « West Michigan Business Blog

  3. Mark, just found your blog via Twitter. Interesting stuff, particularly this post. I moved to Grand Rapids about a year ago from Boston, bringing my business with me. My clients are all out of this area and I’ve had quite a time explaining to them about how West Michigan actually isn’t Detroit and when I grill burgers in the back yard, it’s not off the rusted grill of a ’72 Chevy Nova. It’s a constant battle to defeat the stereotype and any recognition and validation is a success and should be celebrated. I understand that point.

    On the flip side, I’m perfectly happy to let outsiders think what they want. It just makes my existence here easier, cheaper and less crowded and I get to feel like I’m on the inside of a joke they don’t get.

    Also, in terms of individual social status (most clearly defined in high school), the kids that seemed to be the most well adjusted or happiest were the ones that did what they did regardless of what anyone else thought of them as opposed to those always trying to be considered cool.

  4. Hi Andy – Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it. Your struggles in explaining Grand Rapids to your out of area clients reminded me of how a New York vendor asked in an email “How is everything in bucolic Grand Rapids?”, I was quite dumbfounded, and thought, bucolic really? Seemed like someone just wanted to use their new thesaurus.

    You are right about the individual social status, it is that status that makes us unique and interesting, so you might as well embrace it and make the most of it.

    What prompted the move to Grand Rapids?

  5. Bucolic. I can definitely think of worse and it was from a vendor, so probably meant in the best possible sense. If it was a CLIENT however…

    Came to GR for family. My wife is from here and we want to raise kids here. As long as I have high speed internet and access to an airport, I can be anywhere.

    To me, Grand Rapids vacillates (how’s that for vocab?) between a desire for recognition on a national level yet I have found it to be a somewhat insular culture overall. As a few of the people I have met here have told me, “If you’re not from here, you’re going to have a hard time breaking in.”

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