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People on People on People

Seattle is now the #10 U.S. city for density.

Density isn’t what usually comes to mind when most people think of our city. I know I used to picture the waterfront, the comfortably impressive skyline, and the charming village-esque neighborhoods. But I’ve watched more and more people move into those charming neighborhoods, and I’ve noticing the city changing. This week, the official data confirmed it. We’re dense.

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To some people, density is like a swear word. They think about crowds, crime rates, and zero available parking. They worry about a high cost of living, miniscule apartments, and noise noise noise until you can’t even hear yourself think.

To other people, density is the reason to live in a city. They love the energy and opportunities. They rave about brushing shoulders with other cultures and being able to walk to a Moroccan restaurant, an authentic Thai place, and a Caribbean sandwich shop. They like not needing their car, and they love the ability to find something happening in their neighborhood any day of the year.

Neither side has it all figured out. There are pros and cons to both perspectives—but whether we like it or not, one thing can’t be denied: Seattle is dense, and it’s only getting denser.

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We as a city need to respond to this growth spurt. By “we,” I don’t just mean the mayor and the WSDOT. I mean all of us. Small businesses and mega-businesses; real estate agents and builders; non-profits, churches, and homeless shelters. Families. Individuals. You and me.

We need to decide how to approach public transportation as a dense, urban environment. We need to evaluate our city’s homelessness and respond appropriately in light of our changing city. We need to figure out how to keep housing affordable, how to make room for this constant influx of new residents, and how to preserve the beauty of old Seattle while simultaneously making room for the new.

It’ll be complicated, yes, and it will require hard choices. But these decisions have to be made—with or without our involvement. But I, for one, would rather have the future of our city decided by us, the people who live here. The people who make this city a community.

The best way to impact this decision-making: participate intentionally. That’s it. Just simple participation.

  • Participate with your money. Donate to the nonprofits you admire. Support the small businesses you think make Seattle a better place. Eat at your favorite neighborhood restaurants.
  • Participate with your time. Volunteer at soup kitchens or park clean-ups. Go to art walks. Attend community events or protests or the Solstice Parade.
  • Participate with your votes. Share your opinion on light rail. On taxes. Cast your ballot in local elections.

Let’s take ownership in this city. It’s our home, after all. And I, for one, love it here—doesn’t matter if we’re the #10 densest, the #1 densest, or the #8,761 densest. Seattle is home.