Saturday, 24 May 2014

Trains and Tall Buildings 2: Growth as a given?

So it's official. Seattle is the USA's fastest growing major city.* Bigger than Boston, DC or Denver, edging up on cities like Memphis and Detroit, which have traditionally been thought of as far more important, flagship metropolises, while lil' ole Seattle was content to corner away up near Canada, with its fish and its rain and odd bursts of quirky architecture.
At least, that's often  how it got sold to outsiders; there's always been an internal struggle in town; people in Seattle want it recognized as an incubator of culture and ideas, but also want it for their own; best-kept secret with arts and culture and food and on a comparable level to** New York or wherever, but . . . ours.
(This spreads to the rest of the Northwest, and you have your Olympias and Bellinghams and Anacortes and Centralias cultivating relationships with the rest of the state in ways roughly analagous to how Seattle's had it's will they/won't they affair with the U.S. and world)

I'll totally cop to completely mixed feelings about the growth. I'm glad I live somewhere where not every single college grad is trying to cut me out of my bartending gig*** because nothing else is available. I'm glad that some of Seattle's ideas around fair payment and environmentalism can't be held up as economic hindrances. I'm glad people have jobs, and frankly, I think tall buildings are cool.
There's been a sense of quiet optimism over the last 20 years, so it's hard to see the current building and growth frenzy as some sort of triumphant turn around. As long as I thought about it, Seattle was a cool place to be, city parts, nature parts, family parts, rock and roll parts, lakes and weird retrofuture architecture. It still is all that, but now it's way harder to pay rent.
That said, some of us remember, or have parents who remember when that wasn't always the case. Seattle's seen some lean times. The 1970s are well before my realm of memory, but in a global sense that's recent. That we're in a boom time is neither something to be taken for granted, nor something that will always be the case.
As such, it makes sense to me that some of the most vitriolic anti-growthers**** are transplants, often here well under ten years. They never got to see this sign every time they left and entered the city.
*not sure how they measure "majorness." I think that means a city over 100,000 people. There are plenty of small farm communities that through annexation and development have jumped from 2,000 to 25,000 all over the country.
**or you know, a cheaper, acceptable version of said things. 
***only every third college grad. I'm also a college grad, and that line does smack of hypocrisy. maybe I'll write the blog post about why I'm at least breaking from trying to thrust myself into academia. (hint: I can pay the bills better and I like the work just as much, if in a different way.)
****this post may make it seem like I enthusiastically welcome our new luxury-dwelling amazon programming overlords. Anyone who has walked with me through Capitol Hill knows this isn't true, but the things I think are bullshit, the ways to address this sort of crazy growth, the multiplicity of dualities, these are things for their own Trains and Tall Buildings posts.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Walking isn't always walking.

Tomorrow I am working a men's fashion show. I haven't changed careers, there just happens to be a men's fashion show at Lotties, and as such I was asked by my supervisor to "try to look cute, for once." For me this will mean that I probably put on blazer, and throw some goo in my hair to dewispify it. Plausibly shave. Oh! The effort.
For the record: I have walked in one fashion show, in my life, it was fun, I wish I'd gotten to keep the suit.

Here are some cool things! One is a strange and mesmerizing story about a bathtub over at Wonder and Risk. Another is the simple fact that Ryan A. Johnson is writing again, and well. Keeping up with George Parrotian narratives, while sharpening the prose-poem technique. Paul E. Nelson wrote a fairly comprehensive review of the Cascadia Poetry Festival. I didn't make all the panels, but the mainstage stuff I saw was engaging and interesting, the bookfair was cool and the events I helped throw together went mainly pretty smooth. A more comprehensive review on my part is, I think, probably not necessary.

The sun is out and from this library view Seattle looks as sci-fi as it ever has, ever growing more so.