Transcript Staff Writer

No one ever accused Norman of being boring or bland.

At least not yet -- and lots of Normanites want to keep it that way.

That's what inspired Transcript message board poster Dan Sorrells to take an irreverent and playful poke at a much different north Oklahoma City suburb by printing "Don't Edmond my Norman" bumper stickers, which this week went flying out of the Earth at 309 S. Flood Ave.

The free black-and-white stickers and grassroots campaign apparently struck a chord.

It's only natural for Oklahoma City's two largest 'burbs to have a healthy rivalry, and even though they share some similarities -- both have major universities, quaint downtowns and a significant amount of Oklahoma City commuters -- they couldn't be more different.

While Norman has a reputation of being intellectual, artsy and quirky with an eclectic mix of liberals and conservatives, to the aforementioned Normanites, Edmond has a reputation of being upscale, ultra-conservative, quiet and maybe a bit snobby.

And although they might try to deny it -- Edmond has a reputation of being, well, boring, with lots of Edmondites liking their town just that way.

Wednesday, there were a small handful left of "Don't Edmond my Norman" stickers.

"Here's a couple of dollars," said one woman as she picked up one of the last remaining stickers. "Give them to the guy who printed these."

But now they're all gone. More are reportedly being printed.

Sorrells said he doesn't have anything against Edmond, which he calls a "nice town." Nice -- but bland.

"I don't want to poke (Edmond) too hard. But it's kind of fun ... If it makes us think just a little bit ... then I'm happy with it," he said. "We're not trying to be mean about it, it's just kind of a little playful thing."

Sorrells has a health care consulting business that does logistical and operational support for different kinds of health care entities. But -- perhaps tellingly -- he's also a guy who used to bake bread at the legendary Lovelight Restaurant and Bakery on Campus Corner.

He said the inspiration for "Don't Edmond my Norman" came a few years ago during a road trip through Austin, Texas, home to the University of Texas, the PBS television program Austin City Limits and a city that prides itself on its many unique characters.

"They have their "Keep Austin Weird" campaign and we were chuckling about it, and 'Don't Edmond my Norman, came out of that drive back," Sorrells said.

Recently he was chatting with friends on The Transcript message boards about Norman developments and where the town is going now.

The concern that led to the "Don't Edmond my Norman" campaign was what the message posters saw as an ominous trend. University alcohol policies, the town's nuisance house ordinance, burgeoning Stepford-home developments and increasing traffic snarls were named by some who believe Norman is on a slippery slide downhill.

Sorrells had his own example.

"This year I got hooked into organizing Groovefest because some of the students couldn't do it," he said. "And we had a heck of a time getting the noise variances for Groovefest, and it's an event that's been going on in Norman for 20 years. And it's not because anybody at the city's bad or being cranky with us or anything, but the town's evolving."

Apparently there had been noise complaints from neighbors about the amphitheater.

" ... From some degree I can understand that, but it's a college town and they moved down there by an amphitheater and that's what makes Norman fun is that kind of stuff," Sorrells said.

"Norman is going to grow," he said. "But the thought behind it is that we need to grow in a way that Norman doesn't lose its essential character. ... It's a dynamic, how things evolve over time in a town like this. ... We sure want to make sure we keep it fun and keep it interesting and don't let it just grow and grow until it's to the point where it's just another big bedroom community."

But one of the the message posters' concerns is that as more and more people move to Norman as a bedroom community, the newcomers aren't as emotionally invested in Norman.

"And as you keep adding certain kinds of developments, you end up bringing in folks who really aren't part of Norman in the same way. And that changes the demographic and kind of the political dynamic in Norman too," he said. Sorrells stressed he doesn't have anything against Edmond.

"But I live in Norman for a reason. I want to keep it funky. ... It's important. We have to take care of the patois of our town," he said. "There's not an agenda behind it larger than that. ... I think I'm going to go buy another hundred now."

Carol Cole 366-3538 ccole@normantranscript.com

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