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An insurance policy for the Seattle area's soul

Don't miss Crosscut's biggest event ever.

On Saturday, Crosscut writer Drew Atkins and I woke up at an ungodly hour (for a weekend) and began our respective pilgrimages to the cavelike Dexter Avenue studios of KEXP. We met there, in the parking lot, clutching our cups of coffee as if they were the only thing standing between the two of us and certain disaster.

In a way, they were.

Drew and I were there on a Saturday to talk with radio host Mike McCormick about Crosscut's Community Idea Lab and the impact the Seattle area's tech boom is having on our region. The culminating event of the Idea Lab will take place tonight at Town Hall: Five ideas that have five minutes each to win your vote.

In our conversation Saturday, we explained the rents that are booming right along with our local tech economy, the communities that are getting left behind or pushed out by our sudden economic success and the rising distaste with the cultural shift those things bring with them. (Shuttered local treasures, sterile photocopied highrises, the brogrammer backlash.) You can listen to our full conversation here.

The point of our early morning pilgrimage wasn't to complain though — or to preach Seattle's slowly-nearing end-of-days in a hide-your-children, bar-the-doors kind of way. The reason we were up early that morning — and the reason we've been devoting hour after hour of Crosscut staff and writer time to writing about and planning this logistical jigsaw of an event — is that we believe in the power of our region. Its ingenuity, its character, its soul.

As I wrote in an earlier Community Idea Lab piece, "We are crafty and scrappy, a community of upstarts — and startups — that embraces idealism and innovation and technology. We are tastemakers and thriftshoppers, big data nerds, biotech luminaries and engineering-minded. Our LOL Cats mine asteroids and build deep ocean observatories and we change the face of global philanthropy with crazy toilets." 

In other words, Seattle's tech economy is about more than just apps.

So, how do we use our tech boom as an asset to reduce inequality and improve engagement in King County? We hope you'll join us tonight for the Community Idea Lab: Five ideas with five minutes each to win your vote. Not to mention the expertise and savvy of Seattle Office of Policy and Innovation's Director Robert Feldstein, TechCrunch Founder & CrunchFund general partner Michael Arrington, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber president & CEO Maud Daudon and GeekWire cofounder John Cook. 

Register here.

Berit Anderson is Managing Editor at Crosscut, where she follows tech, culture, environment, media and politics. Previously community manager of the Tribune Company’s Seattle blogging network, her work has also appeared in YES! Magazine and on the Huffington Post, Geekwire, Q13Fox.com and KBCS 91.3 radio. She served as Communications Director at Strategic News Service, a weekly newsletter that predicts global trends in tech and economics, and Future in Review, an annual tech conference which gathers C-level executives to solve global problems. You can find her on Twitter @Berit_Anderson or reach her at berit.anderson@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Jun 18, 8:25 a.m. Inappropriate

Once again, "improve inequality and engagement," got an editor? We know what you mean, you want to improve engagement, but it seems you want to eliminate, reduce, counter, combat, etc. inequality.

Posted Wed, Jun 18, 1:03 p.m. Inappropriate

It may take the next bust cycle to bring this city to its senses. This has been going on in one form or another since 1997, and started in earnest around 2006.

Having said that, most of the techies are faux libertarians, but the neoliberals look the other way when money and a few high paying jobs are involved. So they feed each other. Much talk about a social safety net, but they resist the taxation that goes with it.

Affordability is gone for most already, and things like rents don't really go down, they plateau.

Transportation issues have been going on for so long, and people settled with paying too much for too little, that it is now seemingly intractable. Things might improve when something substantive gives on that front.

Neighboorhoods used to be the counterveiling force that kept things real. Now that we have upcoming district elections, they may have more say again, but the damage has already been done for the most part.

Perhaps the Big Quake will be the only thing that will litterally shake things up and we can start over...

Marksp

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