Or, Who Speaks for Me?
County no longer wants 'Atomic City' name. KRQE video.
Apparently, someone (see video for brief details) has the great idea to spend 50 grand of our money to "rebrand" Los Alamos. I guess The Atomic City, now emblazoned on our bus fleet, has gotten some of our civic leaders a bad case of what my grandmother called agita. How could anyone want to associate Los Alamos with anything Atomic, anyway? Its not like the laboratory's mission(s) brought any of us up here, was it?
But what should we "brand" Los Alamos, accepting for the moment that even our little town has to be reduced to an advertising slogan? Certainly if one looks at recent history, our civic leaders have done little to expand our economic profile beyond the national security teat it has lived on for seventy years. The town's one horse economy continues to be none other than Los Alamos National Lab, whose primary mission continues to center on...um...atomic stuff. Certainly Los Alamos wouldn't even be here beyond a few ranchers and a hideaway school for the well off if not for the Manhattan Project. Given that we can't seem to do anything more imaginative than build a 1970's style shopping mall at the edge of town, what exactly should we call ourselves if not The Atomic City? Perhaps Krogerville?
Krogerville, or whatever we plan on calling our economic savior/mall, will not diversify our economic base. It will not bring new money to the Hill. All that "The Mall" will do is try to capture more of Uncle Sam's (i.e., LANL's) treasure. With LANL contracting and the Feds putting the hammer down on travel, we can likely see our hotels and retail suffer. As Uncle Sam tightens his belt and questions the wisdom of pumping billions into the nuclear enterprise, I'm not sure that a mall entirely dependent on all things nuclear is a good idea. Not to mention, I don't think that roadway planning, i.e., NM502, that assumes a continuing growth rate for BombTown makes sense. Not, of course, unless our economic and political leadership engages in some economic base planning that goes beyond the zero-sum Krogerville Mall.
Virtually our entire post-1943 history on The Hill centers around science and engineering. Certainly it doesn't have to continue to be "science and engineering revolving around The Bomb". I would like to see a real university up here, say a Socorro North, that concentrated on a strong graduate level science and engineering program, perhaps nuclear engineering, chemistry, geotech, and physics, an emphasis on both renewable and traditional energy development, and a set of programs that would have some synergy with the existing work force at LANL. That could have been built on Trinity Site and a restored DP site. How about a greater emphasis through High Altitude Sports developing onroad and offroad cycling and endurance sports for both competitors and enthusiasts? Anything but putting all our emotional currency into a mall entirely dependent on LANL paychecks and selling CSFC**, fer gosh sakes. Especially a mall without a bike shop.
But, what do I know. Robert Gibson has some thoughtful comments over here, an excerpt included below:.
"...We must attract and grow new primary industry here – comparable to that slowly disappearing from the Laboratory – that will continue to attract and retain the people and dollars that make Los Alamos unique and special.
New intellectual and economic base industry could be technical. It could be other professional, creative, or entrepreneurial fields. In any case, if we are to continue to be an extraordinary community, our work must be exciting, unique, and world-class.
Everything else depends on it. " --Robert Gibson, in an essay from the Los Alamos Daily Post
** Cheap Shit from China