Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hipster Paradise

Seattle is a bubble.  We have compostable bags and everyone recycles like it’s their religion.  We have fresh food markets everywhere.  We can eat local most of the time.  Hell, I can even ask for the animal’s papers and the waitress will be happy to bring them.

It’s seriously like Portlandia.  Only it’s not.  It’s like it’s on crack.  This place is so sustainable I feel guilty spitting on the sidewalk because it’s a waste of water.  Not that we are ever shy of water.  We have been able to manage our water so well that we are restoring river systems and tearing down dams.

What kind of utopia do I live in where the biggest concern seems to be a surplus of hipsters?

Not that my description is entirely accurate.  There are a fair number of problems in the city.  The police can be brutal and racist.  The streets are full of homeless people who go ignored every day.  There is still an extraordinary amount of segregation in the city.

The point I’m trying to make is that this is a place where people are actively trying to make the place better.  But not just because individuals think they have the right answers.  Rather, it is through a process of active democratic governance and engagement.

And I know that is utopian.  I work at a firm that specializes in engaging the citizenry.  Of course I have a slanted view.  Except, the fact that my profession flourishes let alone exists here shows an extraordinary degree of sensitivity to the collective impacts of decisions.  What a novel thought.

Living in a government intensive place has its pros and its cons.  We have a fairly high tax rate here.  I have to have a pet license.  I have to pay for parking everywhere.  And there are three garbage trucks that make their way through my alley every Tuesday.

But there are upsides.  I’m never caught off-guard about public works projects.  I never have to worry that the city doesn’t care; I have many opportunities to engage my local government at all levels. 

What I’m saying is that Seattle is safe.  It’s a great place for me to start my adult life.

But sometimes the hipster paradise is weird.