A Brief History of #ourcle

"CLE," whether pronounced as individual letters or as monosyllabic grunt, is the Bat-Signal of our civic pride. We attach it to everything we love in this city: catchphrase-stitched clothing, foodie praise, tourism branding and, ubiquitous as wintertime grumblings, social hashtags.

#ourcle, however, is something of an outlier. (Don't make the mistake of pronouncing it "OUR-kuhl.")

The first known use of the hashtag occurred in November 2012 as part of a campaign to stop the construction of the Horseshoe Casino Skywalk. The hashtag became a rallying point for people interested in preserving the aesthetics of Ontario Avenue and maintaining vibrant pedestrian traffic along sidewalks leading to Public Square. 

But just as quickly as it appeared, #ourcle fell into the ether of social media. 

It was not heard from again until reemerging briefly when an April 2014 downtown development discussion took place at Pickwick and Frolic. The meeting championed public/private partnerships and generally sang the praises of Cleveland's "momentum" (see previous reference to: "CLE"). 

But then came last Friday. The city's Community Relations Board opened up a Twitter account, ostensibly to engage residents via what they "love most about Cleveland."

@CRBCleveland spent most of its following tweets aimlessly referring to the mayor and police chief, and preemptively warning against dissent as the Michael Brelo trial progresses. The account's most memorable weekend tweet read: "We respect everyone's right to vent and speak out but this is #ourcle"

It hasn't been received well — with some reaction hinging heavily on that obtuse conjunction — and it hasn't been clarified, if indeed there's anything more to say about the intent. 

Since then, though, #ourcle has taken on its latest incarnation as a place for people to point out how little the city of Cleveland has done to address claims of systemic failure in its safety department. Whatever social media campaign was planned over at City Hall was flipped on its head and faced with a very real reflection of "CLE" in 2015. It's the sort of public conversation that, heeded or not by the city, has marked its identity for years — and never more so than now.
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Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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