Wednesday, March 23, 2016

No, I Like Eureka

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 4:41 PM

click to enlarge GRANT SCOTT-GOFORTH
  • Grant Scott-Goforth
The plot thickens.

This afternoon, the Journal received a letter from the Westside Sanguine Society, Eureka’s anonymous rogue publicity agent and creator of the popular “I Like Eureka” stickers that now blanket Eureka, from stop sign to cop car to seen-better-days bicycle.

The envelope included two stickers, per the Sanguinists’ M.O., as well as two letters, one addressed to us (“fellow citizen”), and the other a shot across the bow of the Eureka Neighborhood Watch Group — and its de facto leader Jeannie Breslin — which, over the last several months, co-opted the design and began selling all sorts of merchandise bearing the “I Like Eureka” slogan.

"One of Neighborhood Watch's main concerns is the level of theft in Eureka," the second letter reads. "How ironic that Neighborhood Watch has stolen someone else's work and creation. Someone took the time to create that mystery and fun. Someone understood that if the sticker belongs to no one, it belongs to EVERYONE."

Zing.  

It has occurred to this writer that the appearance of the “I Like Eureka” sticker on an EPD cruiser last year represented either a distinct irony or a legitimate shift in the attitude of the city establishment.

The Sanguine Society’s actions — part performance art, part Christie-esque drama, part subversive commentary — were clearly designed to respond to a general anti-Eureka attitude perpetrated by city institutions including government and business leaders and community groups. (The society notes in the aforementioned letters: “We started this project a few years ago in reaction to seeing so many negative posts about Eureka within social media, often by people who don't even live in Eureka, and likely have never seen much more than the 101 corridor.”)

The previous rounds of sticker mailings landed in the mailboxes of news outlets, as well as business owners, politicians and local figures who probably would not be offended by the label “progressive.” The envelopes bore the return address of the Downtowner Motel, the long-neglected Eureka property that became a topic of pointed debate during the last supervisors race. (The latest envelope bears no return address, presumably because the Downtowner property is being converted into a senior living center.)

The Eureka-centric negativity was something this writer found noteworthy as well: Why would so many people, who are tasked with protecting and promoting the city, talk so negatively about it? So it was curious, if not pleasant, to see the slogan embraced by a police force once under the leadership of a man who called Eureka a “hellhole.”

Then the Neighborhood Watch Group took a liking to the phrase, and something about their $15 “I Like Eureka” ball caps rubbed the Sanguine Society the wrong way.

“The slogan belonged to no one, but the design was specific,” the Sanguinists write in their open letter to the Neighborhood Watch group. “It was very specific. And you took that design. You took a positive, grass-roots, civic­minded effort from your fellow citizens. You wanted to ride the coattails of the underground campaign. You wanted to co-opt the spirit of the underground campaign. Now you're trying to monetize it. Have you ever thought of your sticker-copying this way?”

The Journal left a message with Jeannie Breslin. We will update if she gets back to us. 

But the wheels of Neighborhood Watch merchandising are already in motion, and you can score buttons, stickers or ball caps if you’re willing to plunk down some cash, which, according to a Facebook post, supports the Neighborhood Watchers.

And if the sticker’s originators want to remain anonymous, they’re not going to have much sway with the “we invented this” argument. And hey, maybe the sentiment’s catching on. Maybe the establishment will embrace the meaning of the slogan. That wouldn’t be so bad, right?

Will people remember that “I Like Eureka” sticker on their back bumper before they take to the comments sections to complain about “tweekers”? Maybe.

But maybe “maybe” is a start.

Find the two letters from the Westside Sanguine Society copied below:

Dear fellow citizen,

As the creators of the black and white 'I Like Eureka.' sticker campaign, we wanted to speak out about the co-opting and attempted monetizing of the sticker. In our effort to remain anonymous, we have sent you a letter addressed to Neighborhood Watch and ask that you publish it to start a public conversation about the co-opting. Our anonymity is key to this entire endeavor-that's part of the charm that Neighborhood Watch, Jeannie Breslin in particular, has utterly failed to grasp.

There has been questioning on social media whether we copied the campaign from previous buttons or stickers with a similar message from decades past. The answer is no. We are not natives of Eureka and had no knowledge these existed. We started this project a few years ago in reaction to seeing so many negative posts about Eureka within social media, often by people who don't even live in Eureka, and likely have never seen much more than the 101 corridor. We really enjoy living here and find there are many, many positive attributes to Eureka. We concede Eureka has problems, just like every single town and city in the United States, but, hey, we still like Eureka.

Sincerely,

Westside Sanguine Society



Dear Neighborhood Watch,

You are very concerned with people taking what does not belong to them. Basically, this is a good concern. But it seems you do not realize you have taken something from the citizens of Eureka.

There was a sticker that was fun and mysterious. It would just show up places—on street signs, on garbage cans, in mail boxes, at businesses, and it said "I like Eureka." It made people smile. It was a gift. It got some press and radio time. It was a cheerful mystery. It created hope and fun.

But you took the design from the sticker. The slogan belonged to no one, but the design was specific. It was very specific. And you took that design. You took a positive, grass-roots, civic­minded effort from your fellow citizens. You wanted to ride the coattails of the underground campaign. You wanted to co-opt the spirit of the underground campaign. Now you're trying to monetize it. Have you ever thought of your sticker-copying this way? Have you thought about how much time was spent hoofing it around the city to distribute these stickers? Have you thought about the money that was willingly poured into this project? To actually give people something for nothing?
One of Neighborhood Watch's main concerns is the level of theft in Eureka. How ironic that Neighborhood Watch has stolen someone else's work and creation. Someone took the time to create that mystery and fun. Someone understood that if the sticker belongs to no one, it belongs to EVERYONE.

There are thousands of fonts and thousands of colors. Pick some and start your own campaign. We like Eureka, but we don't like theft in any form.

—Westside Sanguine Society

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Grant Scott-Goforth

Bio:
Grant Scott-Goforth has been an assistant editor and staff writer for The Journal since 2013.

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