San Diego, Pond Scum, and Crude Oil: Our Mayor Issues an Invitation to Sloganeers

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1972 as “America’s Finest City.” But truth be told, financial mismanagement of the city pension fund since the tech boom of the 1990s prompted a few cynics and local pols to embrace “Enron by the Sea” as a more appropriate slogan.

As industry slogans go, many regions have tried, but few have gained the currency of a golden nickname like Silicon Valley. God knows we have tried. We have winced our way over the past two decades through advertising campaigns that spent millions of dollars to brand San Diego as “Telecom Valley,” “Biotech Beach,” and “Technology’s Perfect Climate,” among other things. For whatever reason, sunburn on a tourist seems to last longer.

Outside of San Diego, a shortage of imagination and an excess of imitation have resulted in regional nicknames that try a little too hard to capture some of that silicon magic. The list of wannabes includes Silicon Alley (New York), Silicon Forest (Portland, OR), Silicon Wadi (Israel), Silicon Beach (Australia), Silicon Saxony (Germany), and Silicon Prairie (South Dakota, Illinois, or Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, take your pick). Wikipedia even has a list of places with “silicon” names.

Pond Scum

Pond Scum

So in accepting Mayor Sanders’ invitation to coin a biofuels slogan for San Diego, bear in mind that the bar has been set pretty low. Feel free to submit your suggestions in our comment section below. And even though we’re talking here about pond scum as a sustainable substitute for petroleum feedstock, don’t get too crude and unrefined.

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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