vice districts

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:

Consider:

– 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

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Cameras Come Looking For Horror

115a

…and they’ll find it. 

Latest news from Pioneer Square from an eyewitness, and Komo News

Question For Komo: Why aren’t they here with cameras when something good happens?

This area is trying hard to turn around;

3 bad apples don’t make this a dangerous place.

We all make it dangerous when we play into stereotypes and assumptions.

What we need: more active policing

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.

riots

…Only in Seattle. #socialmedia #editsourbehavior