go to WASHINGTON FREE PRESS HOME (subscribe, contacts, archives, latest, etc.)
Mar/Apr 2001 issue (#50)
Features'60s Dream Lives On
Suit Filed Against George W. Bush
"Friends in High Places"
Baby Bush Bombs Baghdad
Don't Put the Utilities Back in Charge
Biblically-Grounded Movements For Progressive Change In Washington
How to Run for City Council
Mad Cow: Coming to the U.S.?
Monoculture and Mad Cows
Itching to Ride Light Rail
Is Work Killing You?
Escaping the Globalized Gym
Seattle's Clattering Poets
A Puppetista Manifesto
Living Outside Empire
Don't Put the Utilities Back in Charge
Social Transformation Explained? Technogod
Spokane Free-speech Battle
Facts Minus Attitude
I have just decided to subscribe to your paper. Consider my subscription a financial incentive to print more articles like the interview with Michael Lerner and the letter from Wes Howard-Brook [please see article this issue by Mr. Howard-Brook on page XXXX]. These were appealing because they expressed the value of our spiritual life without advocating any one religion.
I believe your paper can be most effective as a secularly progressive voice minus the knee-jerk tendency to lash out impotently with cheap humor and cynicism. I want to be informed, to know the facts, the awful truth, as painful as it is plentiful. With the facts minus the attitude I am better prepared to take action in the world. I am at my best when inspired and motivated by a focus on the deep universal principles that unite us, and I am weary of “hipper than thou” journalism. Life on earth is too precarious to devote ourselves to language that divides us.
Greedy Developers Homogenize Cityscape
I recently visited Seattle after being away for two years. First of all, that is way too long for me to be away from my home. I revel in the beauty of the city and surrounding area as well as the friendly, open-minded people. Which brings me to why I am writing this letter.
As I went to West Seattle to see the view of the Seattle skyline from afar, I was more than a little discouraged to see that they had built quite a few mirrored buildings on the south end of the downtown area, actually near the International District. As I wandered through the city, I noticed the homogenization of Fremont with the Adobe building and the “clean-up” of the airport area.
I appreciate that certain areas of the city need some attention and that improving the buildings can be better for the people who live and work there. But the reality is that when the developers are building these new structures, they are completely ignoring the inherent charm and history of the areas, and they are raising the rents so high that the locals who have been living there for decades and have given these areas their charms are being driven out, only to be replaced by the bland genericism that personifies the “new” money that we see with the high-tech wealth being generated.
I appreciate that Paul Allen is spending money on Seattle and bought a sports team. It’s nice to see that wealth being gained in Seattle isn’t being taken to some other place. However, I would hope that someone from the Puget Sound area would be interested in preserving the history of the area. Next thing you know they will tear down the beautiful brick buildings with all of their history in Pioneer Square and replace them with mirrored eyesores or add some mirrored buildings to the Capitol Hill area so that we too can look like Phoenix or LA.
From my perspective, Seattle has a rich history that is lost each and every time that we allow greedy developers to homogenize our cityscape. And who, if not the locals (and I use that loosely to mean the people who live and work here), make the city what it is? Fremont has a charm of being the New Age part of town, and now it has the Adobe building eyesore to detract from the very nature of that part of town. The International District, our Chinatown, is being destroyed little by little and losing the influence of all of the immigrants who worked so hard to come to our great city and make a new and better life. Now where are they supposed to go? And yes, we all know that the airport area has the highest crime rate and that it definitely needed some improvement, but to build buildings that look like every other building in every other city is just an insult to OUR city.
I fear that the next time I come home, my city will be filled with mirrored buildings and high rises with no real concern for the integrity of the Pacific Northwest culture. All of the elite will be driving BMWs, talking on cell phones and getting a fax in their cars while simultaneously trying to drive … but they won’t be missing any of the beautiful scenery because our city will look like every other city in which they have ever driven, lived, worked.
Meanwhile, all of the people who helped create the city and make it the great place that it is, will be leaving in droves because they can no longer afford to live in their homes and operate their shops. They will have to leave to make a home somewhere else and start all over again. Or they will become a part of the rapidly growing homeless and poverty-stricken that we see trying to sell papers on the street corners downtown. It is a sad, but true, reality that is being ignored. I hope that the wonderful people in Seattle step up to the plate and fight the incessant polluting of our culture. I hope the next time I am in town that I can experience the quaint, the funky, and the charming parts and people of our city without the visual pollution of generic society obstructing my view.
Just as a side note, look down the coast a ways and you find San Francisco, once a Mecca for the freethinking, alternative, artistic, and politically active people. Now, with the influx of “new” wealth, the inner city areas are being torn down and replaced by the same mirrored skyscrapers we are finding in Seattle. The locals are leaving the city because they can no longer afford to live there as well.
Do we want to be a California city? I don’t think so. I don’t see too many people from Seattle leaving in droves to go to California, but I do see thousands of Californians moving to our great city and state.
Sasha A. Rae
Seattleite currently misplaced in Colorado Springs, CO firstname.lastname@example.org
Times Corrects Free Press
Enjoyed the piece [“A Streetcar Named Seattle”, cover story May/June 2000]. I noted, though, the reference to “Roosevelt’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation.” The RFC was Herbert Hoover’s, though it continued in existence through the Roosevelt years.
Bush Subsidizing Conversions
Now our tax dollars will go to faith-based charities which provide social service. These charities are supposed to not force their religion upon the recipient. [See related article this issue by a Texas inmate, page 13]
The bottom line is this: what is the goal and mission of these faith-based charities? They do not exist to merely help humanity. Their ultimate aim is to bring maximum number of converts into their fold. They have effectively used service as a means to achieve this end. In the process of helping, these charities exert tremendous overt and covert pressure on the recipients.
Government funding of service projects of such charities frees up their existing funds for conversion. Thus the Bush administration’s decision to fund faith-based charities is nothing but subsidization of conversion efforts in favor of particular religions, and hence unconstitutional.
The Bush administration recently stopped funding those foreign family-planning groups which allow abortions, claiming to stop subsidizing abortions. Now it wants to subsidize conversions through funding faith-based charities. Have they forgotten their own logic, and their oath to protect the Constitution?
White Plains, NY