The Creative Comrades are staying in Lake Havasu City.
After Lake Havasu City Councilmember Nancy Campbell brought up the concerns of some Lake Havasu City citizens that the use of the word comrade in Creative Comrades was offensive, the PED board of directors have voted to leave the name as is.
At the August board of director meeting Campbell, who is the city council’s representative on the PED board, expressed concerns she has heard from the community that using the word comrade in the name of a group that receives taxpayer funds is offensive.
People are taking offense to the word comrade, Campbell says, because of its connotation with the Soviet Union and socialism.
“I had people with high concerns about the direction PED is going and I just want everyone to be on solid ground when Nomadic opens and everybody feels included and all inclusive” Campbell said. “All I am doing is letting you know there is a group of people, small, large, whatever, who tend to feel this is the wrong name if it’s under Lake Havasu Partners for Economic Development.”
Lake Havasu City contracts with the PED for local economic development initiatives.
According to Oxford Languages, the word comrade means a companion who shares one’s activities or is a fellow member of an organization and comes from the 16th century French word “camarade”.
Creative Comrades is a part of the PEDs network which also includes F106 and ASU Start Up School. Comrades is geared toward 25 to 45 year old creative entrepreneurs and meets once a month. Past meetings of the group have covered topics like 3D printing, advanced manufacturing and content writing.
“It is people who are interested in innovation or building companies and branding” PED Director James Gray said.
The PED has multiple sponsors, including Mudshark Brewery and Foothills Bank. The PED funds Creative Comrades by providing food, marketing, collateral, strategy and workshops, Gray said.
According to Gray, making a name change for Creative Comrades is not as simple as it seems. The switch would cost $5,000, Gray says, and would take three weeks of time and effort to rebrand and rebuild the group’s website and assets.
Creative Comrades already has a large following with 517 likes on its Facebook page and 736 followers on its Instagram.
“That is not a small amount of people that are interested in this level of education,” Gray said. “We do average about 40 to 80 people at each meeting but we have had times where it is a 100 plus.”
Many of the people involved with Creative Comrades were surprised just like the PED board was that people were offended by their name, Gray says.
“We have had a lot of people within the Creative Comrades’ community not wanting the name to be changed,” Gray said. “We have had people say ‘well I can’t believe that I was just listening about being an entrepreneur and somehow I have done something wrong.”
Gray and other board members stated their concerns that changing the name of the group might confuse the people who already are active.
“The brand has already been established for five years and many individuals in the community know the organization by that name,” said Joshua Fishlock, a PED board member. “Whatever the name is, the name is. I am just saying that it is going to be relatively disruptive in terms of presence that Creative Comrades has because people are going to get confused.”
Other PED board members were concerned that a name change might be too reactionary and done to appease people who aren’t involved in the group.
“It seems to me a bit thin skinned to kowtow to change the name…I think sometimes we let people push us in a direction just to kowtow to what their political thinking is without looking to the long term effect of it,” Board member Ross Hobday said. “My personal feeling is that Creative Comrades is just a brotherhood of getting started and moving forward.”
Ultimately the PED board voted to keep the name the same with all but Campbell voting yes.
Creative Comrades next meeting will be on Nov. 10.