I am not blind to the fact the community has grievances. Or that we have real problems to work through. But through the struggle we have to look to where we are coming together.
I knew Seattle was the place I wanted to live shortly after moving here. The dynamism, the mix of influences, the access to our gorgeous natural surroundings, and the fact that so many of the people here just seem to give a darn are all things I love about it.
I came here in 2009 from the Midwest, taking a job at Boeing. Since then I have moved on to a position at Amazon. I live with my wife and cat in a 560-square-foot condo in Pioneer Square and prefer riding my bike around town. I likely embody what some longtime residents see as “the problem.”
I may not have old-timer credentials, but I was still disheartened to see a recent Op-Ed from a Seattle resident leaving the city with his hands in the air saying, enough. [“After 14 years, I’ve had it. I’m leaving Seattle,” April 27, Opinion].
I see more than the angry, dysfunctional place that the author described. I see a place that is changing, full of passion and making critical decisions that will set the stage for residents for the next 50 years. I am not blind to the fact the community has grievances. Or that we have real problems to work through. But through the struggle we have to look to where we are coming together.
I see a City Council working to pass the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) legislation to add affordable housing and help accommodate growth, while listening to hours of public testimony at recent council meetings. HALA and other similar updates to zoning laws are fundamental to Seattle’s housing crisis. The inflow of people to the region will not stop if we stop building housing, whether they move to Seattle or the Eastside. Zoning laws aren’t easy to change, but saying the council is not working on the problem is disingenuous. The work is hard, it is necessary, and it requires compromises from everyone.
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I see communities building tiny houses with the Low Income Housing Institute and groups like Seattle Tech 4 Housing, which are on the cutting edge of solutions to combat homelessness. The housing crisis isn’t just a Seattle problem, but a county and a state problem. We need holistic solutions encompassing all levels of government. We should be lobbying our representatives for better solutions, but they won’t come cheap.
I see my employer, Amazon, partnering with organizations like Mary’s Place and Farestart that provide housing and job training. What more could be done if more companies were actively supporting organizations like these?
I see hundreds of residents of Pioneer Square and the Chinatown-International District working, in the rain, to clean up their neighborhoods, paint over graffiti, clear rubbish and safely dispose of used needles.
I have seen these things because I decided I wanted to volunteer my time to make this city better, knowing not everyone has the opportunity and privilege that I am lucky to have. I understand it’s easy to lose hope, and people have to make decisions that are in the best interests of themselves and their families. But I am choosing to stay in the city I love. I will keep working, keep supporting organizations that are making progress, and keep holding our officials accountable to their promises to do the same.