Spokane is no stranger to bad press, but most of us who live in the area secretly don’t mind since it keeps the population down. However, earlier this week, a former resident’s essay in The Guardian made waves online and throughout the city for the bleak, false picture it painted of Spokane. The title alone will probably tell you almost everything you need to know about the piece: How Gonzaga became the central hope for the struggling city of Spokane (and by “Gonzaga,” they mean the Men’s Basketball team, coached by Mark Few).
To be totally honest, I (Dena) was glued to social media on Tuesday morning when the original piece came out because the reactions of friends, acquaintances, and my fellow 509-ers were as fascinating as they were funny. Most of us hadn’t gotten the memo about how miserable we supposedly are. For a short while, I even questioned if I was doing Spokane all wrong, since I don’t even follow Gonzaga Basketball (although, technically I live outside of the city limits, so maybe that matters?).
As it turns out, I wasn’t alone. Local media outlets have been busy for the last few days, doing a great job of fact-checking, of offering purely entertaining commentary, and of capturing the response of residents. Personally, I was most impressed by the tongue-in-cheek yet gracious replies that came out of the hashtag #CodyComeHome, a direct plea to the article’s author sent via Twitter.
Enter two women from the area’s tourism org, Visit Spokane, Public Relations Manager Kate Hudson and Digital Content Specialist, Camille Troxel, the masterminds behind the hashtag. I don’t know either of them personally, but I wanted to give them a shout-out because the response embodies so much PNW pride and politeness, yet still manages to have a sense of humor and display a subtle, yet epic trolling vibe…and that’s no easy combination to master.
Kate and Camille were kind enough to talk with me yesterday about their efforts. I learned that, on Wednesday of this week (just over 24 hours after the article came out), they literally pounded the pavement, trekking all over the city and photographing some of its most beloved locales (and even the author’s elementary school), and posting to Twitter. “We knew we needed some sort of response [to the article],” Kate explained. Plus, community members were asking, too.
When Kate and Camille delivered, so did Spokanites. By the end of the day, a flood of gorgeous photos and posts in support of Spokane filled the hashtag’s feed. “Honestly, I was surprised at the response we got,” Camille told me. “The engagement was shocking and refreshing” (two of my favorite adjectives, for the record). Kate also added that her favorite part was visiting local businesses and seeing community members rally behind their efforts, which gives me warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Oh, and according to Camille, they may or may not have hopped a fence. You guys can’t see me right now, but I’m applauding them both.
For the record, both The Guardian and Cody Delistraty, the author of the original essay, have issued apologies for the original piece (here’s The Guardian’s, and here’s Delistraty’s). No word yet on whether or not Cody has any plans to come home, though.