The latest news from the Census Bureau that Seattle is the fastest growing big city in the U.S. is bittersweet. It’s sweet because it points out one of the lies “Seattle is Dying” sparked.
No. People aren’t leaving Seattle in droves because they hate what Seattle has become. Or, to be more precise, there are more people coming here than leaving, for a substantial net growth. I’ve been telling people it’s so for a couple of years now, since the lie started circulating.
The bitter part of this news is that the reason I knew Seattle was growing was because I knew that was causing the problems “Seattle is Dying” addresses in the first place. The fact is that Seattle is still growing faster than we can maintain affordable housing, which is causing rising homelessness.
There’s too much money to be made from all those newcomers.
I remember when, for years and years, Seattle’s population hovered around 500,000 to 550,000. Then I think I must have taken too long a nap; when I woke up, we were somewhere over 700,000. Rip Van Winkle said, “Wuh?” Seattle is now, according to the Census Bureau, at over 769,000, and, if our growth rate stays the same for two more years, we will burst into the 800,000 range for the first time ever. That’s Seattle proper, never mind the dreaded Greater Seattle.
I’m with the late Emmett Watson on this issue. I was opposed to the Seattle ‘62 world’s fair. I say they didn’t know what they were doing. If you make it, attractive people will come to it and want to live in it. Why would you want to make Seattle attractive? Dress it in layered clothing covered by a rain slicker. Tell everyone it rains every day, even in August. Tell them we have to lock our extra-heavy-duty trash cans to keep the bears out of them. Tell them we jail jaywalkers. One month for the first time, six months for the second time. Three strikes, and it’s hard time for five years, breaking big rocks into little rocks.
I used to like to tell people that we’re the Suicide Capital of the Lower Forty-Eight. Sure, it’s the Emerald City, but you can’t lie down on the grass and enjoy the green — the slugs will eat you alive, if the worms don’t. So, don’t move here or you’ll kill yourself. By and by.
Back in the early ‘70s the city really did have a declining population, thanks mainly to Boeing layoffs. And I saw a funny thing happen then. As people left houses and rentals behind, landlords had to compete with each other for customers, and rents dropped. Meaning that almost anyone remaining in Seattle could afford housing. Of course, it was all poorly maintained, and you had to share your room with rats, but hey, a roof for me and my rats is a roof for me. Good times.
Speaking of news that raises questions, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a big new recycling bill at the waterfront Seattle Aquarium recently. My first thought was, hasn’t the aquarium been closed for the pandemic? I know reducing plastic trash benefits marine animals, but wasn’t the signing lost on them? Do any of them know who Inslee is?
The law is going to ban packing peanuts and styrofoam containers, presumably including those little styrofoam trays at the supermarket with produce on top wrapped with clear plastic wrap and individually priced. Someone wondered what will replace those, and the answer was there will be innovations. Innovators always step up to the plate. There are innovators out there who have innovations in their pockets. They’ve been holding out on us all this time.
Also, there won’t be those symbols on the plastic containers with the three arrows in a triangle and a number from one to seven inside. Because nobody ever knew that numbers three through seven shouldn’t be mixed with numbers one and two. So, I guess there’s just going to be something that says recycle or don’t recycle.
Fair enough, but while that may help recycle plastic types one and two, by preventing plastics three through seven from contaminating them, it still means plastics three through seven are destined for landfills or our oceans.
Where are the innovators who are going to innovate us out of that mess?
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Read more of the June 2-8, 2021 issue.