Bad news: Selling out the commons…brainwashing us with corporations

KW: Evidently, Suffolk County will be selling naming rights of parks to corporations. I think it’s a stupid idea. (See Newsday story: here.)

Parks should be named by landmarks, geography, or people from local history. In that way, we create a web of community and belonging. And, in addition, everyone’s navigation is aided by the logic of place names.

Slapping the names of corporations onto our parks, as if they own them, is a short-sighted and greedy idea. It means that money is more important than the reality of a name, money is more important than the logic of a map and being able to find a place, and money is more important than human connections. It will also create more visual clutter, and saturates our lives more with pleading messages from greedy corporations.

I won’t refer to these parks by their corporate names. No one can make me. And, I think that civic groups and other groups should take that stand and note that they will refer to the old name on announcements.

Just because our government is greedy and stupid, doesn’t mean we have to follow along.

But, if this idea does go through, I hope someone with lots of money will consider buying naming rights and plastering the following names on local parks: “The Dump Steve Levy Park”, “Tom Suozzi Gets It Wrong Again Park”, or “Our Government is Going Down the Toilet Park.” Heck, if you wanna try their tool against them (and push a free speech  battle), get someone with a lot of money to propose: “The Reject War Park”, “The People’s Park”, “Down with Corporations Park.” (Or, is this game only open to capitalists wanting to promote their corporate entity?)

Perhaps we should extend this project to selling the naming rights for town dumps. Now, that would be fun: “The Corporations Stink and Have Too Much Power in Our Culture Dump”, “The Steve Levy Dump”, or the “Dump War Dump”. And, for a dump, I would not mind letting Clear Channel Communications or Citibank puts their names on that.

I do believe that if any corporations are allowed to put their names on our community resources, then those corporations should be expressly forbidden from making campaign contributions to any local officials involved in the decisions. And, if the corporations have already made donations, those politicians should have to give the money back. No fair greasing a trail to open up new business and marketing opportunities.

Suffolk plan to sell naming rights at county parks
By Rick Brand, Staff member William Murphy contributed to the story / March 8, 2009

Suffolk officials, looking to scrape together every last nickel in this bad economy, are asking businesses to buy advertising displays, signs and naming rights on everything from golf tees, campsites and hiking trails to county dog runs.

County Executive Steve Levy said he is using the parks department as a pilot, which if successful, could lead to a wider effort to make county buildings and properties available for advertising. The county formally put out a request for expressions of interest this week and responses are due April 2…

Suffolk already has a 10-year, $2.3 million naming rights deal for Citibank Park in Central Islip, which is home to the Long Island Ducks, an agreement with one year left. Levy said the county will seek a new naming deal separately for the ballpark…

Suffolk’s proposal follows Nassau County, which is negotiating with Clear Channel Communications on a long-term contract that would allow the media giant to place 65 digital signs outside the six major county parks…

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