"Tacoma isn't cool."
Recently, I listened to an episode of the Move to Tacoma podcast where Tacoma author/wise-guy—just kidding—Erik Hanberg mentioned that Tacoma is not cool. More specifically, that Tacoma should stop attempting to beat Portland and Seattle at their own games (to paraphrase, he mentioned that Tacoma is not Portland of the north.) The podcast touched on these themes briefly before moving on to talk about what is great about Tacoma—affordability, accessibility, etc. The Move to Tacoma podcast certainly has an agenda behind it, but the information it has covered thus far has been enlightening.
For instance, I recently ventured into a part of town that even I have bad mouthed in the past—the east side—to embark on a mission to try Tacoma's best nachos. They were certainly the best nachos I have ever eaten, and the Top of Tacoma bar can probably advertise they have the best nachos in town at this point. (I should know, I'm a nacho expert.) On that same episode, podcast host Marguerite and guest Marty Campbell mentioned that Tacoma needs to start loving itself more. (It may have been another episode, actually..but I can't be made to research it.) There is no reason why the east side should be the stereotypical Tacoma for Tacomans—it doesn't smell, it isn't riddled with gangs and crime, and it certainly doesn't suck. So why do we as Tacomans feel this way about some of the great parts of our city? We are lazy and we care too much about what others think of us.
Tacoma has great neighborhoods. Neighborhoods where the streets are lined with trees, the houses aren't neglected and people care about their yards, and too often when defending our city we bring up these neighborhoods and discredit the rest. The east side and south end are very easy to throw under the proverbial bus, but they shouldn't be cast aside. Tacomans need to stop crediting tired stereotypes with the argument "my neighborhood isn't like that, but this other one is a crack den." We have all done it, myself included. Tacoma is great and all of us are Tacomans, not just the residents of the north end and downtown.
So why isn't Tacoma cool? Because we are trying too hard. Outside communities have already made up their minds about Tacoma, and the more Tacoma tries to change them the more ridiculous we look. We don't need to convince the naysayers that we are just as good as—if not better than—they are because we can exist on our own. If somebody turns their nose up at you when you tell them where you're from, you don't need to waste your time with them. That person is a dick-face, and they can stay in their city with all of their friends who think the same.
Tacoma only needs Tacoma.