We refer of course to “The City With Spirit,” the new slogan used to showcase the heart of our Cleveland hometown and the heritage of our Bradley County people.
The only entry of 1,827 using these exact words, it was submitted by Phyllis Anderson, a Lee University graduate and language arts teacher at Cleveland Middle School.
The young instructor is now $1,000 wealthier following last week’s award presentation by Mayor Tom Rowland at the Cleveland City Council session. Yet, we believe the real contest prize to Anderson is the knowledge that her entry will now be used to define our community and the more than 100,000 residents who call it home.
Just like her theme, we applaud the teacher’s spirit in arriving at the idea. In an interview published on the front page of our newspaper, she told Managing Editor David Davis the thought came to her at bedtime.
“It was strange the way it happened,” she told our newspaper. “The word ‘spirit’ entered my mind.”
And that was enough to get her out of bed.
Her immediate thought was the religious connotation to “spirit.” Cleveland is headquarters to seven Christian denominations and the Pentecostal Theological Seminary. In this regard, “spirit” was a perfect choice.
Yet the word means much to many. She is no exception.
The enthusiastic young teacher thought of another “spirit,” that of a local legend known as Tall Betsy, a fable she often recites to her middle school students at Halloween.
Turning to her computer, she conducted a word search and found other uses of “spirit.” One was “enterprising spirit” and that led to a direct connection to Bradley County’s industrial community, new and old. The old are plentiful. Among the new are the expansive Whirlpool Cleveland Division manufacturing plant on Benton Pike, the $1.8 billion Wacker Polysilicon North America investment in north Bradley County near Charleston, the Amazon fulfillment center already operating close by and of course the massive Volkswagen factory just across the county line which employs many local residents.
As a school teacher, she considered “team spirit,” yet another appropriate revelation.
One she pondered was “spirit of recovery,” a reference to the continuing rebuild of Bradley County following last April’s devastating tornadoes that took nine innocent lives and robbed hundreds of families of their homes. In the 10-month aftermath to these storms, Bradley County’s resilience has been nothing short of phenomenal as we seek our “New Normal.”
Anderson’s thinking ran parallel to selection committee chairperson Melissa Woody who presented the two finalists to the City Council in January. Woody explained both selections. Of “The City With Spirit,” she reminded councilmen of Cleveland’s work spirit, our welcoming spirit and most importantly our godly spirit.
Her assessment was spot on, as was Anderson’s reasoning.
“The City With Spirit” is a heartfelt descriptor and a splendid depiction of what Cleveland, and our residents, are all about. Its innovative creator in the beginning felt the slogan was too simple, yet Anderson also realized most could readily identify with its message.
Most have. We are among them.
Whether one’s lean favors business, team, fables, work ethic, friendliness or godliness, Cleveland is genuinely “The City With Spirit.”
We thank Phyllis Anderson for her hometown convictions, and her willingness and readiness to take that which is simple and dressing it with such endearing beauty.
We thank too the panel of judges who know Cleveland best: Melissa Woody, Nancy Casson, Dr. Jerome Hammond, Greg Kaylor, Brenda Lawson, Jimmy Logan, Sharon Marr, Mike Middleton and Demetrius Ramsey.
It was a job well done by all.
May we offer our congratulations!