98104: Location Impacts Behavior

Last month I wrote a post on the topic of vice-districts and transition. Saturday night (3.15.2014) around 5pm an off-duty Seattle firefighter, his wife and a friend of his were harassing a homeless man in Occidental Park.

What made it to the news is here.

What didn’t make it to the news is here:


– The Importance of Engaged Citizenship. 

Luckily for the homeless man, there was an eyewitness. His account of the incident and request for more active policing are here.

– How Easily Our Assumptions and Biases Impact What We See And Our Responses

“A homeless man was beaten and no police cars arrived. When one of the attackers was stabbed and four police cruisers, two ambulances, a fire truck and several fire department supervisor cars all arrived within minutes.”

– The Impact of De Policing

“Anyone who attends a Sounders, Seahawks or Mariners game is comforted by the large police presence. Officers are there directing traffic, coordinating and controlling the “march to the match” and as people leave the stadiums are there to keep things moving along in a safe and orderly fashion. Then where do they go? Once the games are done and the CenturyLink parking lots empty Pioneer Square becomes ignored by law enforcement until there is blood in the street.”

How Location Impacts Behavior

You don’t hear much about stabbings in Bellevue or Kirkland, Ballard, or Wallingford. Those neighborhoods have much more police attention than does Pioneer Square. This infers that there is an acceptable level of incidents we are willing to tolerate in certain parts of our city. Meaning, some people in some locations are valued higher than others.

When we visit vice districts, outrageous behavior such as yelling at complete strangers, devaluing people we deem less than ourselves, drinking too much are not just tolerated–they come to be expected. This is a lot like treating Pioneer Square like a student whose teacher has no expectations of him/her.

If a person (or a neighborhood) continues to hear they are “not good enough” or “never going to do well” — eventually that is just what will happen.

transition no6

I just pass through



“I work in The Market and cut through Occidental Park

on my way to the International district. Theres a lot of grit.

I think of Psq has having a lot of frat bars and homeless.

But you certainly made me think about it.

I know there’s a lot going on down there now.”

The Beauty Of It


“The beauty of it.

I walk by the art studios and the glass shops, and it’s all so beautiful to look at.

You might see one piece of trash that catches your eye

but when it’s broken up in little pieces, it’s confetti

…and it’s beautiful.

…Thank you for asking me.”

Robert Surless


“Pioneer Square is friendly.

I throw (football) passes at folks that I know ;

I’ve been through about 6 footballs on this corner.

One car stopped in the middle of the intersection

and just drove off with one of them.

Someone else brought me a new one two days later.

Jon Young gave me his NFL ball; he has 6 NFL passer rating titles.

He said he gave the ball to me because he thought I would appreciate it

and I could always sell it if I needed to.

I haven’t sold it.”

Robert Surles is sort of a local celebrity.

This Is My Personal Starbucks


“I just moved here from Denver because I always wanted to check out Seattle…

I kept hearing about it.

I was a mobility instructor for the blind and the ended up blind in one eye (not related).

This is my personal Starbucks. I like to hang here in the morning and get my caffeine.”