Following a contentious meeting that stretched well past dark Friday, the Decatur Community Affairs Council unanimously voted to ditch the city’s longstanding “Everything is Greater in Decatur” motto for a bold new one:
“Decatur: Like Atlanta, Only Better.”
The fresh slogan, which detractors have criticized as “arrogant,” “elitist,” and “a bold-faced lie,” is effective immediately.
The council also voted 7-1 to appropriate $5.7 million from its general expenditures fund to affix signage with the new catchphrase to streetlights and telephone poles, and to erect “handsome, permanent placards” at most entry points to DeKalb’s county seat. Another $859,000 was approved for a “Decatur: Like Atlanta, Only Better” T-shirt and bumper-sticker campaign.
Council administrator Harry Lancaster, a native Decaturite who first proposed the slogan switch in January, called the change necessary “to better reflect Decatur’s trajectory” and “draw a clear distinction” between his city and “all that riffraff over in North Druid Hills and Inman Park.”
Critical of Lancaster’s “brashness” as recently as late February, council president Margo Chester has since changed her tune. She appointed a special “PR posse” on March 12 to research ways in which Decatur might actually be superior to its big-sister municipality to the west. Notable findings in the posse’s report, as detailed by Chester on Friday, include:
- Decatur’s private lawn crews, according to decibel analysts, are on average 40 percent quieter than those in places such as Garden Hills and Ansley Park;
- A one-bedroom condominium without a kitchen near Decatur Square recently sold, sight unseen, for $437,000, indicating homebuyers’ “frothingly rabid” desire to relocate to the city center;
- In summer 2022, Decatur’s public swimming pools recorded half as many “fecal interruptions” as those logged at public swimming facilities throughout the City of Atlanta;
- News resources such as Money magazine, Niche, Vouge 75+, and Picky Parent Monthly have all heralded Decatur as Georgia’s best place to live, while Atlanta “merely managed to Influence Everything™,” according to the posse’s findings.
Throngs of residents spoke out against the slogan choice during Friday’s monthly council meeting.
Among them was Jason Styles, a Decatur bookshop owner. He feels the city-certified Atlanta diss is “immodest at best” and “quite possibly incorrect,” as evidenced “by the condescending tone of this very slogan” and the sudden prevalence of “wildly expensive sandwiches” around Decatur, he said.
“I’m trying to raise my son in Decatur to be a good man,” Styles told the council. “He has so many cousins in Atlanta, right now. Technically, yes, he’s better than every one of them, but we don’t need to shout it from the damn courthouse!”
Emory University human studies professor Richard Blankhaus attended Friday’s meeting in a red tracksuit meant to symbolize stopping. He pleaded with councilors to strike down the slogan on account of its “random pugilism” and “Buckheadian undertones.”
Another slogan detractor, who declined to provide her name to reporters, said the catchphrase would be in better taste if it was less provocative toward one specific place.
“Why lob a big, blatant shot at Atlanta, the driving force of this whole region’s economy?” the woman asked councilors at the mic. “How about something broader, that more people could identify with? Why not, ‘Decatur: Like the Best Parts of Chamblee, Marietta, and Brookhaven Combined’?”
That suggestion was roundly dismissed but it did remind Lancaster to mention several other motto options that had been tossed out in recent weeks. Those included: “Decatur: Now Even Greater Than Greater,” “Decatur: Walkable Foodie Mecca and Artful AF,” and “Decatur: Where Everyone’s Welcome Who Earned It.”
By far the loudest community voice in favor of the new slogan was Karen DeeNembee, a copyright attorney turned homemaker and Dachshund breeder.
DeeNembee, donning a green tracksuit Friday to counter the professor’s red Adidas getup, read a 20-page excerpt from her self-published manifesto on 21st century urbanism: "We’re In! Quick—Somebody Shut the Door!"
Following that experience, once half the council had been sufficiently revived, DeeNembee applauded Decatur’s forthcoming street signs and T-shirts for clearly sending a message that standards have been raised on one side of the city line.
“Nothing about this is snobbish—it’s simply pragmatic,” she told councilors. “Because if I have to call the cops on one more wayward hipster barista, grumbling down my sidewalk after dark … I just don’t think I could stand it!”
A multi-genre “Decatur: Like Atlanta, Only Better” songwriting contest is also in the works, as stipulated in the council’s updated slogan ordinance. A winner is scheduled to be announced at the city’s first annual Kombucha and Bubble Tea Festival this summer.
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