Letter to the Editor: ‘Live Exponentially’ … I’m Struggling to See a Connection

White Rock


“Live Exponentially.” What does that even mean? Of or relating to an exponent? Expressible by an exponential function? Characterized by an extremely rapid increase or decrease? (As in an exponential growth/decay rate?) How does any of this relate to Los Alamos? Is it just that “Exponentially” sounds scientific? I’m struggling to see a connection. 

When I think about “living exponentially” various things come to mind (some good, most not so much):
  • The Spread of a Virus
  • Urban Sprawl
  • Computing Power
  • Greed
  • Overpopulation
  • Technological Innovation
  • Resource Exploitation and Depletion
  • Pyramid Schemes
  • Rabbit Populations (at least near my house!)
The root of “exponentially” is the Latin verb exponere, meaning “to set forth, to put out, explain, expose.” Is Los Alamos a thing that expounds or interprets? Does Los Alamos, explain or expose something? To “Live Exponentially” implies to me exponential growth rates. In what fashion is Los Alamos to grow exponentially? Would we even want it to? Do we want to be known for “growth”? As Ed Abbey once said, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
If Los Alamos is to be rebranded (and I’m not sure it even needs to be), perhaps the new brand should have some meaning, be relevant, and be something its residents would be proud of.  What makes Los Alamos unique? What makes Los Alamos a desirable place to live? What should Los Alamos be known for? What do we have to offer? Is it no longer “Where Discoveries Are Made”? There are many things to “discover” in Los Alamos.
We have here extreme natural beauty. We have a ski area that could be improved. We have a branch of UNM that could be expanded and partnered with LANL offering degrees in specialties related to the surrounding area (volcanology/geology, anthropology, biology, chemistry, physics, etc.). We have a wonderful network of trails and endless opportunities for camping, fishing, hunting, and mountain biking. We have the possibility to become the “Gateway to the Valles Caldera National Park” (if that conversion ever happens). Like Estes Park is to Rocky Mountain or Jackson Hole is to Grand Teton.
We have a unique and important history with the possibility of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park.  We have Bandelier National Monument right next door. We have relatively low crime and very good schools. We have an abundance of artists of all kinds. We have a mix of cultures and people from all over the world. Not to mention more than our fair share of scientists! We have an aquatic center, a golf course, an ice rink, and excellent libraries. We have a lot!  And a lot to offer!
“Live Exponentially” has no meaning and it’s a shame $55,000 has been wasted. Instead of hiring an outside contractor to rebrand Los Alamos, how about we, the people who live here, decide what our brand should be? There are a lot of thoughtful and creative people here and I would bet a contest with a modest prize would generate far better ideas than an outside contractor and for far, far less than $55,000.
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