In the last few years, San Marcos has become inundated with mermaid imagery. From murals to parades, to sculptures, the rebranding of our city seems to be the hottest issue for our council members. While I can support anything that draws people to our wonderful town, I cannot stand to hear about mermaids again when there are environmental and human rights crises on our horizon.
According to the San Marcos Mermaid Society, “the Mermaid herself embodies the unique San Marcos culture of ingenuity, entrepreneurship, community connectivity and environmental stewardship which blossoms in a town in love with its sacred river.”
If this is the case, the SMMS should cut ties with our city council.
In 2013, council members gave the go-ahead to The Woods Apartment Complex to destroy green area and build next to the Blanco River. Runoff from construction contributed to river pollution and the decision greatly intensified flooding for community members who live in the neighborhood of Blanco Gardens in 2015.
Having learned nothing from their mistakes, last summer, a request by H-E-B to open a store on an environmentally hazardous area on the intersection of Hunter Road and Wonder World was granted by our local politicians.
Instead of showing genuine care for our river, they have chosen to capitalize on only the façade of environmental friendliness by investing in mermaid sculptures and festivals. According to city council documents, the 10 giant mermaids will cost $55,070. Additionally, they proposed an allocation of $15,000 for the 2016 mermaid festival and sponsorships of $25,000 for both the 2017 and 2018 Mermaid SPLASH.
City council is spending valuable time and energy on something completely superfluous and irrelevant and prioritizing mythical creatures over members of the community.
While the city council obsesses over branding, it refuses to take a stand on the racist, anti-immigrant Senate Bill 4 that will target the most vulnerable of San Martians. Mayor John Thomaides and his colleagues are a complete disappointment and have not lived up to their promises of inclusivity or putting people and the environment before profits.
Admittedly, our very own student newspaper’s disparity in coverage of SB4 in relation to the mermaid branding has been disappointing as well. Until recently, there had been no mention of the bill, but plenty of apparent cheerleading for our city’s grand PR stunt.
I challenge my own colleagues to do better, and under our new leadership, I am confident we will. Similarly, it is time for new leadership in city council that will strive to prioritize the things that matter over their own image.
San Marcos, we are better than just mermaids. There are more pressing issues at hand and we can help individuals who actually exist beyond the mythical realm if we stand together and demand it.
– May Olvera is a journalism junior