Barbara Lauderdale: State of Jefferson not going to be called ‘State of Jefferson’?
While returning to Nevada County from Roseville yesterday I, again, noticed the large “State of Jefferson” banner alongside the highway. This brought to mind a recent conversation with the Jefferson supporters at the Nevada County Fair.
First of all, my family settled in Northern California in the mid 1800s and therefore we have always felt a deep pride in our state with its rich history, culture, and the magnificence of its beauty.
We have never identified ourselves as merely Californians, but have always distinguished ourselves as Northern Californians.
Having the opportunity to speak with the folks at the Jefferson booth, I was finally able to tell them that many of the people I’ve chatted with regarding the issue of state separation support the movement, but just can’t seem to get actively involved as they just can’t get passed the name State of Jefferson, a name that reflects nothing of who we are, nor that in which we take pride.
It may seem a piddly excuse for not getting actively involved, but movements have failed for less.
Thomas Jefferson, although a great statesman and patriot, (yes, I get the symbolism; we all know he penned the Declaration of Independence and we want independence from Southern California — again, I get it) but Thomas Jefferson was a Virginian, never laid eyes on California and therefore as a symbol is in no way evocative of our own unique identity.
For success, movements require the ability to tap into the deep emotions of a sense belonging and of pride of place in the hearts of the people from whom they wish support.
I wondered, does the State of Jefferson organization not get that? The State of Jefferson does not reflect Northern California and its people; and worse yet has as its symbol a yellow flag with two Xs representing the sentiment that we have been double crossed.
The flag looks like it was designed by angry teenagers or is part of a Dos Equis commercial. It’s pretty difficult for many of us to rally around it.
Yes, I know, I know; this will probably tick off all the Jefferson Staters to no end. But come on, that’s what the flag looks like.
Yes, I know the movement started in the mid 1800s and then resurfaced in the early 1940s, and the State o’ Jeff folks are probably (most certainly) royally offended by now; but “The State of Jefferson” was then, and this is now.
Focus on the future. Take a deep breath and just let it go.
Back to the conversation at the fair and to my point: The response of the State ‘o Jeff representatives was to inform me that the name The State of Jefferson is only a working title — (Who knew?) — and that later it would be changed.
Later? Why wait?
OK, to be fair, the Jefferson State folks were, indeed, conducting a “name the new state” survey. We cast our votes but strongly urged organizers to change the name now, not later.
Changing the name now would motivate more Northern Californians, who have a deep pride of place and identity, to support the movement as, truth be told, many more of us than are currently involved are tired of Southern California money and population-based voting blocs furthering their own agendas at the expense of the interests and wellbeing of Northern California.
For the record and as a point of interest, I voted for the state name, “North California.” Hey, I’m proud to be a Californian — a Northern Californian. Let Southern California get a new name. And while I’m on the subject, let Southern California get their own flag.
I love our bear and our red star. I want to keep our bear flag. It’s distinctive, powerful, unique.
So how about we keep our current (and already really cool) California flag but distinguish it as North California by adding a big redwood tree behind the bear while honoring and retaining our history?
What could be more indicative of life in Northern California than a bear — especially when it’s on your back deck rampaging your bird-seed feeders.
I had two of them doing just that on two different occasions just last month. But no, although it would be an honest representation I don’t want to replace the redwood tree behind the bear with a broken bird feeder.)
So come on, State of Jefferson organizers; let’s get a move-on and get rolling on a permanent state name. I guarantee it will inspire many more supporters by acknowledging state identity and pride. (Although, unfortunately, the State of Jefferson volunteers told me they didn’t think it would.)
Ah, well; I tried.
Barbara Lauderdale lives in Nevada City.
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