Local Focus: Banning the M-Word

Local Focus: Banning the M-Word

Local Focus is the League of Oregon Cities’ monthly magazine covering current city issues and trends. It is distributed to 3,500 city officials each month, primarily mayors, city councilors and city managers. ELGL has agreed to write a monthly article for the publication.


Classifying and categorizing objects is a deeply ingrained aspect of human nature. Most often, this is a good thing. Without this ability, we’d get overwhelmed in every new situation. But, this fundamental skill can also be damaging, especially when it comes to categorizing people.

Anyone reading this article has likely been wrongly categorized at some point in their lives. Maybe you’ve been lumped into a generational stereotype (“Baby Boomers can’t use technology”) or a role stereotype (“Librarians say ‘shhhh’ all the time”).

Perhaps because categorization is a human trait, ELGL has seen a spate of local government conference presentations on “generational differences.” These presentations, more often than not, end up insulting everyone in the room, because the stereotypes either explicitly offend generations (“Baby Boomers ruined the environment”) or apply random generalizations to a generational swath (“Millennials love avocados”)

Continue reading: Banning the M-Word (page 25)

Extra credit: I swapped out ‘millennials’ in headlines for something better. It made a huge difference.