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With 'I Heart Rutland' Campaign, Residents Hope To Spread The Love

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Nina Keck
/
VPR
Several local residents have launched a new 'I Heart Rutland' campaign, which is shown over a painting of the city by local artist Peter Huntoon.

Back in the 1970s, New York City launched its now-iconic "I Love NY" campaign to promote tourism. Now folks in Rutland hope the stylized red heart will promote similar good feelings for their city.

Mike Napolitano is a third generation Rutlander. He says while he was in Burlington for a concert last month, he spoke to some young people who acted shocked when he said he lived in Rutland.

“It dawned on me that if these kids are intimidated, like, 'Whoa, you’re from Rutland?’ Then the perception of what the place is ... obviously skewed,” says Napolitano. "Because it’s not a scary place. It’s a great place.”

Napolitano, who owns a local graphics company, considered making some "I Love Rutland" bumper stickers. He says he casually mentioned the idea to Steve Costello, an executive with Green Mountain Power and one of Rutland’s biggest advocates, and things just took off from there. 

With local donations, the duo created a website, a Facebook page, T-shirts, banners and window decals. They say any proceeds will go to Rutland's Wonderfeet Kids' Museum.

Costello says Donna GoodHale, a local photographer, and her husband Brad will create regular web and Facebook features touting what they love about the city.

Costello says too often the people who live in Rutland are the city's worst critics. And he says its time for that to change.

"This is more about how we as individuals and business leaders and communities leaders talk about our community and put it in a positive light." - Steve Costello, Green Mountain Power

“This is more about how we as individuals and business leaders and communities leaders talk about our community and put it in a positive light when that’s appropriate," Costello says. "And I think it’s appropriate a lot more than we do in Rutland.”

Local business owner Philip Allen says negative stories get a lot more media attention than positive ones. He says this new campaign may help balance that: “You know, success breeds success, and pride breeds pride, and negative feelings breed negative feelings.” 

Considering where Rutland was just a few years ago, Allen says the change has been amazing. “Any time people see that we all have a vested interest together,” he says, “amazing things can happen.”

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