people of pioneer square


I’m back in the saddle.


The first phase of this blog started as a distraction from grad school and a series of life transitions. I walked the streets at all hours, talking to people of all kinds. Here is a sample of those interactions. In exploring my relationship with citizenship and with place, I learned three key things:

  • People are generally approachable. Everyone wants to be seen, heard and accepted.  To really do that takes attention. How much do you pay attention (really pay attention) to people you interact with or to strangers you pass by?
  • Place influences how we connect with one another. Our sense of and genuine commitment to place is a product of our votes and our individual efforts. We matter, whether we like it or not. For example, Occidental Park went from a neighborhood dustbin that no one would cross in broad daylight (1999), to an open park where homeless and professionals who work there play ping pong together (2016). Not all change needs to take that long if we are actively engaged. How do you contribute to the place you live and work?
  • Citizenship is adulting–plain and simple. Like wearing our seatbelt, flossing, and eating kale–citizenship is an activity that needs to be done on an ongoing basis in order to be effective. Like you, there were many days when I was too busy to observe changes my neighborhood, pick up trash when I saw it, go to city council meeting, or even greet people I passed in the street. And when that happens this place loses vitality. What daily practice do you do, like flossing, for your neighborhood?

When Bernie Sanders ran, I was energized. It looked like the party would hold itself accountable in a new way (or, there were enough other people activated that I could remain an interested spectator). When Hillary lost, it should have come with a trigger warning. Gross incompetence and misinformation won out over experience and preparation, again. Politicians across the board had failed to effectively connect with their base. But it wasn’t all their fault. We weren’t always there to greet them.

In the past several election cycles we are treated like subjects, not citizens. Things are done to us, not with us. We’re not co-producers, and we’re not engaged in a co-creating a story, day in and day out with our government. Even with social media, it’s a one-way conversation with one notable exception: during elections. All of a sudden people are engaged in the conversation. We court politicians. They want our vote, they want our money, they want us to volunteer for whatever the cause is, the initiative or their own campaign. But right when that election’s over, when we are most amplified and engaged, our voices are turned down all of a sudden. Disappointed, we go back to this broadcast model: We vote; Politicians like Trump decide. Conversation over.

When I was in D.C. protesting this weekend, it became clear that this framework and relationship needs to radically change. It needs to start early and never end.


Her mom uploaded this photo to Facebook with the caption, “#inherownwords #shespeaksforherself.”


So this blog is evolving to be an eye on what citizens of PSQ are doing to claim their responsibilities as active citizens (#peopleofpsq). Over the next few weeks and months, I’d like to challenge us to commit to 10 ACTIONs, as prompted by the Women’s March on Washington. Small, consistent actions lead to effective change.

All of us, myself included, need to start training ourselves to acquire the adulting practices of good citizenship. Rights are liberties are on the chopping block daily now. Politicians need to know that midterms are on the horizon.


10 Actions for the first 100 Days

Action 1 / 10


Where: Altstadt Seattle, 209 1st Avenue South

When: 3-5 pm, Sunday January 29th (mark your calendars!)

How much of my time? 5 minutes, or support Altstadt and have a drink a beer or a brat!


  • Write your representatives about an issue you care about. Prompts will be available. Send as many cards as you like as long as you donate postage. You don’t have to commit to staying long, just writing a postcard.
  • Connect with people in the community. Meet the faces of those that live and work here. Engage with what makes this neighborhood special. Main Street has always been a place of pioneers. Come meet some.
  • Make effective change. Change the election dynamic. Keep the conversation going. Our representatives need to know we are not going away!


Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you – and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead. We’re offering printable postcards for you to download.

You can go it alone, or come to Altstadt for a drink or dinner to talk about your experience and fill out your postcards.

Write down your thoughts. Pour your heart out on any issue that you care about, whether it’s ending gender-based violence, reproductive rights and women’s health, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, religious freedom, environmental justice or anything else.

Before you send it, take a photo of your postcard and use the #WhyIMarch #PeopleofPSQ tags when posting it to social media.

Sign up for the event here.

Our senators are:


154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510


511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

I can’t keep quiet. Can you?


98104: Connection

"...breadth of connection seems to happen more naturally but depth of connection is something we need to consciously and constantly build. What are some ways you do this in your life?"

Pioneer Square, February 2014: Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl

I’m going to try to write one major piece each month on Pioneer Square on a major theme. As I was considering the neighborhood the last few days the theme of Connection came up.

We blame social media impact on our face to face interaction and the interuption and multi-task culture we live in  for our lack of connection these days. And yet hastags such as #SB48, #Superbowl, #Pioneersquare, #Seattle and #howseattleriots brought many people together last night. Building real connection happens uniquely for each person.

Winston Churchill argued that we shape our buildings which then they shape us. The same is true of our digital technologies. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram played a major role in the ability to connect and share local events as they unfolded. But what of our neighborhoods? How does Pioneer Square shape those who live in it?

We pay for the ease and frequency of our communication with the depth of our relationships. The irony, of course, is that our increasingly vanishing connection to each other is driven by our deep need to connect. It is no accident that we are all collectively spending over 230 thousand years worth of time on social media in a single month.

Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Over the past 15 years, Sherry Turkle (author of Alone Together) studied technologies of mobile communication. She found that our little devices, those little devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are. Some of the things we do now with our devices are things that, only a few years ago, we would have found odd or disturbing, but they’ve quickly come to seem familiar, just how we do things. For example, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was communicated via a tweet, before his three young children, with whom he was scheduled to spend the day, and his longtime partner, Mimi O’Donnell were notified.

There’s a great summary in Salon about how ethics is changing for journalists:

In its ethics code, the Society of Professional Journalists has an entire section on “minimizing harm,” guided by the principle that “ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.” The section cautions reporters to show compassion and be sensitive when investigating a tragedy. It urges them to “show good taste” and “avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.” Increasingly, “minimizing harm” is becoming a quaint concern, a nostalgic vestige of a bygone era in journalism. Now, breaking news is breaking us. We’re cycling through tragedies at lightning speed and without affording ourselves the adequate time to reflect and to grieve. The pursuit of journalistic expediency is eroding our empathy, and readers are left the worse for it.

All this makes me wonder about the burst of emotion Seattle felt in the streets last night.

Community support for the team has been building for months. It makes sense that a win would be like popping a cork. The unleashing of emotion started out friendly, with just a few people in the streets. We went out and joined the crowd for a bit. One side of our street was dedicated to pedistrians, the other had cars attempting to go home, all beeping horns in support of Seattle. Within an hour both sides of the street were literally flooded. People were climbing the historic pergola, hanging from lamposts, and carrying street signs away–all under the watch of the Seattle Police Department. They didn’t even remove people from the street lights. After some time, the police taped off the pergola and stood underneath it which (eventually) proved effective.

When I think of the hassles of the neighborhood and why I’m not more involved, I think of the time it takes away from other things I want or need to get done. “Conversating” takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body — not too little, not too much, just right.

These are photos of folks being unedited. 🙂

pool of people pergola lights
Photo from Twitter: @GNCordova Photo from Instagram: luke_rain Photo from Twitter: @PSBJphoto

What is interesting to me is the potential for connection given all these social tools.  All these apps make it very easy to just hop from introduction to introdction at the expense of building depth of connection. Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding.

What does that mean when we consider our own back yard? While I can’t wrap my head around folks whom are scared to cross the bridge, how do help educate people who are afraid of vice districts? How do we reach out more to the homeless? What impact does local shopping have on globalization? How can we connect and partner more effectively with our government (with the same ease we have in navigating Nordstrom’s customer service department)?

We can only clean up so much with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring.

Stay tuned for local conversations…

Catch Me On The Corner,

UPDATE:  2/4/2014

Amanda Gallagher Quinn started a GoFundMe project:  #HowSeattleRiots Fixing the Pergola most of the donations were $12. Sometimes crowds are great.


…Only in Seattle. #socialmedia #editsourbehavior