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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane City Council approves new motto: ‘In Spokane, We all Belong’

By Roberta Simonson and Samantha Fuller The Spokesman-Review

Spokane City Council members have given the city an official motto: “In Spokane, We All Belong.”

The phrase, approved by a vote of 5-2 Monday, will replace Spokane’s unofficial motto: “Spokane, the city of choice,” attributed to former Mayor David Condon.

The new motto is the first official one for the city. While many slogans have been linked to Spokane, none have had the formality of approval by city law. For example, “Near nature, near perfect” and “Creative by nature” were slogans adopted by the local tourism agency, Visit Spokane.

Council sponsors of the ordinance worked for two years to introduce the motto to community groups to receive feedback. Councilman Michael Cathcart, who opposed the ordinance, said it wasn’t enough. Cathcart had no problem with the motto, but rather the process used to reach it.

“Is there buy-in on this particular phrase and the way this has come about?” asked Cathcart. “There should be some public process, much like we had with our city flag.”

Other members of the City Council said the motto will act as a steppingstone for healing.

“It is a bridge word,” City Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson said. “We need to start to look at steps that we can do as council in a city to make people feel like they all belong, and when this is passed, that will be the work that will be before us.”

Councilman Zack Zappone said that if people around the city use the motto, people will start to believe it and live by it. Zappone believes mottos should be allowed to change.

“It is about the actions and beliefs,” Zappone said.

Members of the public said the city’s actions should follow its new motto.

“ ‘In Spokane, We all Belong’ (are) great words, but they still ring hollow unless we follow that up with action,” Spokane resident Megra Flatman said. “While it is a great bridge, we absolutely need to continue moving forward.”

Flatman said listening to the Spokane Human Rights Commission and Office of Civil Rights, Equity and Inclusion resolutions will improve the community.

When the motto was proposed to various groups, the word “belonging” was triggering to some members of the community.

“There was a debate out there, should we say, ‘We all belong,’ aspiring to do that work and point in that direction,” City Council President Breean Beggs said, “or should we not say it out of recognition for the people who don’t experience that yet?”

Roberta Simonson and Samantha Fuller's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.