Silly me.

Perhaps I’m overreacting to the importance of the news that the proposed new hotel downtown has a name.

At long last, with just a few more hoops to jump through, we will be talking about Hyatt Place instead of just “the hotel.”

Names bring life to things. They seem more real. In the case of the hotel, it gives us the feeling that it’s really going to happen.

Saul Stein, a writer and publisher who was the Stein of the Stein & Day publishing company, calls it “particularity” – how much better it is to refer to something in particular rather than in general.

Roy Peter Clark, longtime guru of the Poynter Institute, a think tank for writers, tells his minions to “name the dog.” Instead of referring to a pet as “the dog,” call it by name, he says, and allow the reader to visualize “Bruiser” or “Fluffy” – because there is a different visual image by just naming the dog.

The same holds true with naming a newborn baby. The new child instantly becomes much more vibrant in our minds and hearts when given a name rather than just being “the baby.”

So, back to the downtown project. I’ll bet when I conduct one of my tantalizing Reppiks Public Opinion Polls, those responding will be much more animated if they are talking about the Hyatt rather than “the hotel.”

(The Reppiks Public Opinion Poll is not scientific by any stretch of the imagination. It consists of me asking questions to about 20 people at coffee shops and restaurants. Reppiks is Skipper spelled backwards. Everybody seems to have a poll these days so I thought I’d start one).

On Aug. 25, 2018, I wrote in this space that Mason City’s downtown project had so many moving parts and seemed so convoluted that it reminded me of the sarcastic definition of a camel – it is a horse put together by a committee. In fact, I wrote, in honor of the camel, the new hotel should be called the “Hotel Hump.”

You see? Names create images. They mean something. So let’s start referring to “the Hyatt.”

I conclude this week by reviewing what has occurred over the past six years, since Philip Chodur first approached the City Council about an idea he had to build a hotel in the parking lot adjacent to City Hall. There have been four hotel proposals – two each by two different developers; two different locations; two lawsuits by the same developer, one of which was dropped and other pending; countless public hearings, committee meetings and council meetings; two mayors, two city administrators and about a dozen City Council members.

Yet today, folks, at long last, we may be over the hump.

Silly me.

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John Skipper retired from the Globe Gazette in February 2018 after 52 years in newspapers, most of that in Mason City covering North Iowa government and politics.


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