I’m so old the first thing I thought when I heard about the area formerly known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone was, Seattle finally has its own Haight-Ashbury.
What a wild development. Mayor Jenny Durkan tells the police to vacate the East Precinct, and off they go, just like that. Maybe they thought the protesters would riot without them and the community would beg for their heroic return. Instead, the protesters plant vegetable gardens, go on a painting spree, and peace out.
I’m planning to go up there over the weekend just to enjoy the contact high.
The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that it’s a distraction from the message of the protests. But then, maybe not, as East Pine Street turns into Black Lives Matter Street.
The worst thing that could happen is instead of CHOP aka CHAZ inspiring other cities to create their own autonomous zones, everyone in the country who likes the idea will want to come to CHOP, just like back in ’67 when San Francisco was flooded with hitchhikers.
Now I wonder how hard it is these days to hitchhike, what with all the social distancing. How would that work? Would you have to carry spare masks in case the driver doesn’t have one? How many spare masks would you need to hitch from Boston to Seattle? Would anyone even stop to pick you up? Would it be possible at all? Well, there are still trains.
Of course President Trump doesn’t like CHOP and promised to take Seattle back if our own government doesn’t. Our “ugly Anarchists” must be “stooped,” he said in a tweet. (His typo, not mine.) Then he talked about how we shouldn’t call white supremacists racists because it’s so stereotyping.
Police Chief Carmen Best has denied having any involvement in the decision to leave the East Precinct. We are now being told it was all the mayor’s idea, and that the building could end up becoming a community center.
But seriously, the Seattle Police are not permanently going to stay off Capitol Hill. They may not return to that particular building, but you know they will be back. It’s hard for me to be optimistic about that. I mean, think of the high hopes we had when the 30-day ban of tear gas was announced, only to have tear gas used the next day.
Speaking of optimism, so we have a space program again. SpaceX got two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, as a tiny step in Elon Musk’s grand scheme to eventually ferry a million people to Mars to save a remnant of humanity from some apocalypse or other on Earth.
I don’t really understand why he wants to colonize Mars in particular. It takes at least five months to get to Mars. The moon is three days away.
Maybe it’s my flashbacks talking again: “I’m not taking you kids to Disneyland, when there’s a perfectly good playground just down the street.”
Elon Musk is talking about sending 100 people at a time, 10,000 times, over the course of a decade. That sounds crazy, but that’s actually the easy part.
The hard part is sending the supplies needed so that all those people can survive indefinitely on Mars without experiencing their own mini-apocalypse.
The people will have to live underground to escape the radiation. So, there will have to be tunnel digging equipment. There will need to be materials to grow food somehow. Martian dirt isn’t suitable, so the colonists will either need hydroponics, or shipments of soil and lots of grow-lights.
Air. They will need air under pressure. Pumps therefore.
There will need to be worms and insects. Birds to keep the worm and insect populations from getting out of hand. Bigger birds to eat littler birds.
You just can’t send people to Mars. You have to send a whole ecology. You just have to face it. If the population is going to be self-sustaining, the population will have to grow — there will be children and teenagers eventually. There will need to be dogs and cats and petting zoos. Ponies to ride. Trees to climb on. Squirrels to distract the dogs. Mushrooms. Fruit trees. Fish ponds. Chickens. Clowns for the kids’ birthday parties.
It will be much harder to build a self-sustaining community on Mars than Capitol Hill.
Let’s choose not to do the hard thing, but the easy thing.
Read more in the June 17-23, 2020 issue.