The Seattle freeze isn’t only the talk of dispirited singles or newcomers from faraway lands. It’s also a topic among homeless youth.
At the ROOTS Young Adult Shelter an 18-year-old man who recently moved from California to Seattle asked me, “What’s the Seattle freeze?” As if he knew I’d been crawling from coffee shop to bus stop to bar (unsuccessfully) for weeks asking people that same question.
There was a counter between us and my plastic glove interfered with our handshake. I gave him his first hot meal of the day, fresh from two minutes in the microwave. He showed me the tattoos on his arms, one reading “love is not love until it’s given away.” But we had more similarities than differences. Only one year apart and both new to Seattle, we were battling that Seattle aloofness.
The Seattle Freeze is a well-documented phenomenon, the inspiration for magazine articles, eight Urban Dictionary posts and a Meetup group with almost 5,000 members. Like the bumper sticker proclaiming, “Have a nice day … somewhere else,” the Freeze, Crosscut's Mossback columnist Knute Berger explained on KUOW, is “the surprisingly cold nature of Seattle residents towards newcomers." Freeze believers blame the weather, the nerdy techies streaming in and the fact that many natives claim Nordic heritage (in fact, Nordicians make up only 7.4 percent of Seattle’s population).
One psychological study that mapped personality traits across the country gave Washingtonians high marks for openness, but ranked us 48th in extraversion. Apparently Seattleites can’t even ask their neighbors for sugar. The 2014 Civic Health Index report ranked Seattle 48th among 51 comparable metropolitan areas for “talking with neighbors frequently” and 37th for “giving or receiving favors from neighbors frequently.”
Be that as it may. Jessica Buxbaum, a 22-year-old transplant, and my own 19-year-old newcomer self did not venture to Seattle this summer to wallow in self pity. We are determined to unthaw the city and ourselves. Here’s our list of groups and events that are helping us — and hopefully you — meet the frozen:
1. Greendrinks is pretty self-explanatory. Have a cocktail and discuss green issues … or not. At our first Greendrinks event, we met a few eco-conscious gals (one sipping beer out of a mason jar) who told us about art therapy, bodybuilding competitions and the best thrift shops in town. Greendrinks, managed by a nonprofit called Sustainable Seattle, is a way of connecting the city’s environmentalists and growing the green community, while enjoying free Snoqualmie Ice Cream (sometimes). Every second Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m., Seattle Greendrinks hosts an informal gathering to introduce new members to old. Alcohol and food are served — for a suggested donation. To get on the invite list, visit the Greendrinks website or join their Facebook group page.
2. Underdog Sports is for people who like games which involve balls — bowling, cornhole, bocce, dodgeball, flag football, kickball, futbal, mini golf, softball, volleyball — and communication, in forms such as, “Hey, want to grab a drink after the game?” You don’t have to be athletic, or even competitive to enjoy Underdog Sports, says Crosscut's Development Director, Tamara Power-Drutis, who snagged a best friend and a roommate by joining a beach volleyball team. A relationship based on shared sand and sweat quickly led to more frequent off-court gatherings involving movies, canoeing and holiday parties, she says. You can sign up as an individual for about $45-$85, or as a team for about $195-$995. Power-Drutis recommends the individual route, because it forces you to interact with random people. Teams are usually co-ed, consisting of mostly people in their twenties and thirties. Visit Underdog's website to sign up for leagues in various locations around town. Leagues accommodate a variety of schedules and skill levels.
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