Monday, February 06, 2012

Identity Crisis

Maybe it’s because I’m an old dog but more than a few people have come up to me lately asking if I plan to do anything about the People Tree issue. Well not exactly the People Tree itself, but a graphic representation of the Columbia Town Center sculpture that many believe represents the very soul of the planned community. Some of these folks are downright outraged at plans by the Columbia Association to remove this icon from their logo.

I’m not one of them.

If it is such a sacred symbol, shouldn’t the outrage instead be directed at plastering it over everything from business cards to garbage cans?

The People Tree sort of looks out of place with the Columbia Association name anyway. It’s sort of like a weed the way it pops up in different places.

In this iteration it rises between Columbia and Association and towers over the organization like dandelion on steroids.
In this take, the tree encroaches on the letter “C.” It makes me want to get out the hedge trimmers. In fact, that looks like what happened in this version of the logo on the Hobbit's Glen page of the CA website.
Some facilities took a virtual  weed whacker to the tree graphic and eliminated it altogether.
The bottom line is that CA doesn’t even own the rights to the People Tree image. Those rights are now held by Howard Hughes Corporation, the successor to Columbia’s original developer, The Rouse Company. In the early years of Columbia’s development, the People Tree image was used as a branding symbol for the new town. It was used in all manner of marketing materials including, ties, lapel pins, and tote bags.

In my opinion it looked better on those things than a dumpster.

And finally the People Tree sculpture isn’t going to go away like the poinsettia tree was a few years back. It’s staying right where it has always been. In fact, I imagine we might begin to see it make a comeback in some of the marketing efforts for redevelopment projects in Town Center in the very near future.
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