Tulsa: November 2008 Archives

In last week's issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly, I urged making cultural heritage tourism the focus of Tulsa's efforts to attract visitors. Rather than marketing Tulsa as an "ocean of sophistication in a cultural desert," Tulsa should embrace its place in Oklahoma as "the capital of a region where visitors can experience the untamed, exuberant spirit of the American West in all its variety."

For whatever reason, the people we pay to promote Tulsa to the world -- the Tulsa Metro Chamber's Convention and Visitors Bureau -- seem uncomfortable promoting the unique aspects of our region. They position Tulsa as superior to and separate from the rest of Oklahoma, an oasis of sophistication in a cultural desert.

It's a distinctly Midtown Money Belt point of view, and it makes Tulsans seem like a bunch of insecure, provincial rubes, putting on airs -- the urban equivalent of Hyacinth Bucket.

While we should be proud of the cultural amenities that make Tulsa a great place to live, our tourism marketing should focus on what sets our region apart from the rest of the world.

A Milanese woman who lives a few miles from La Scala and the salons of Versace and Prada isn't likely to visit Oklahoma for the opera or Utica Square shopping, but she might come here to eat a chicken fried steak on Route 66, experience Oklahoma! in an open-air theater, or attend a powwow.

A resident of Berlin wouldn't cross the pond to see a Tulsa production of the plays of Bertolt Brecht, but he might travel here to two-step across Cain's curly maple dance floor, search out Ponyboy Curtis's hangouts, or attend the annual Kenneth Hagin Campmeeting -- depending on his particular passions.

Tulsa should position itself not as an enclave of Eastern sophistication but as the capital of a region where visitors can experience the untamed, exuberant spirit of the American West in all its variety.

Read the whole thing, and read more about how other cities and regions have successfully used their history as a tourist draw at culturalheritagetourism.org.

Tulsa "a baby of a city"

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From alumni of the Pratt Institute, who visited Tulsa for the National Preservation Conference:

First of all, Art Deco. It's everywhere. This Deco boom town was nouveau riche ripe with OIL! when they built it. We walked some of the shiny, shapely and well loved lobbies on our tour of downtown.

Secondly, people from Tulsa are nice, and in a good way! Not annoying at all.

And finally, like everywhere else, Tulsa is what you make of it. They celebrated their centennial last year; it's a baby of a city and has toddler like tendencies. It's fun and ridiculous, but after a certain amount of time you want to hand it back to mom and return to the adult party.

Festival of trees begins

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Philbrook's Festival of Trees kicks off tomorrow (Saturday, November 22, 2008):

Philbrook's annual holiday gift to members features holiday treats, photos with Santa and special performances. Please take the opportunity to see and buy one-of-a-kind holiday creations by area artists, gingerbread houses and holiday trees. The 2008 Festival of Trees will be a memorable treat for the entire family. Guests are welcome for $5.00 per person.

The festival is about the Christmas trees, decorated by designers and available for sale, but the gingerbread houses, made by school children, are even more interesting and fun.

Tulsa Boy Singers will be performing, and you can get your picture taken with my dad, Santa. Santa will also be at Philbrook on Sunday and Saturday and Sunday of the next two weekends.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from November 2008.

Tulsa: October 2008 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: December 2008 is the next archive.

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