A Seattle Tribute

I sit in an apartment surrounded by boxes, along with other items that will soon be in boxes. It’s reality check time. In less than two weeks (which is six years and eight months after I arrived in the Seattle area) I will leave this city. Not forever, but for a long time. And even though I’m not necessarily leaving Seattle for good, it has left good in me.

I could write in a number of different directions about the things I’ve loved and will miss about living here, but here are five:

Seattle is globally aware. Many cities in the U.S. have a large mix of people groups living in them, but few are as consciously connected to issues and events around the world as Seattlites. I can have conversations about financial aid to Africa, food shortages, Burmese monks, or Bollywood stars with people at the produce market, park, or coffee shop. While other cities are diverse, I just haven’t experienced the same levels of engagement in other parts of the country. That’s obviously a pretty big deal to me. Not coincidentally, global philanthropy organizations like World Vision and The Gates Foundation find their homes here.

Seattle is creative. This isn’t just about the arts scene . . . though the city’s track record for producing brilliance speaks for itself. It extends into other areas. Creative businesses are started here – of course, the high tech companies lead the way, but also  other kinds of businesses, like outdoor equipment retailer REI (which is a sort of co-op), restaurants, and micro-breweries. Even a special criminal court for mentally ill offenders demonstrates the kinds of creative approaches to addressing problems. It’s no big shock that some of the first, and most recognized emerging churches in the U.S. started here.

Seattle loves football/soccer. While I’m very excited to move to the UK, and see some world-class football in the English Premier League, I’ll miss following the Seattle Sounders FC regularly. Seattle is tops in the U.S. for supporters –  over 36,000 noisy, scarf-bearing fans (more than double the MLS average)  show up for just about every match, and they’re vocal and loyal. Fun stuff.

Seattle loves to learn. This goes hand-in-hand with the first two things I mentioned, but people here love to think, and stretch their brains. While major national bookstore chains are closing (thanks in no small part to Seattle’s Amazon.com), many independent bookstores retain the support of their local clientele. The libraries are full of people all the time. As a result, there is a certain thoughtfulness in conversations.

Seattle understands the value of community. This city, like most others, is made up of a number of neighborhoods. Each of these is quite distinct from the others. Capitol Hill “feels” very different than Fremont or Ballard or Green Lake or the U-District. It’s noticeable when you cross the boundaries from one neighborhood to another. The farmer’s markets and street fairs and coffee shops are gathering places that people take very seriously. Other cities might have pockets of uniqueness, but across the board, I’ve not seen this level of neighborhood tribalism. When we talk about “local,” we really mean it!

I’ve not mentioned the way this city has taken coffee pleasure to a whole new dimension, or how Seattle’s reputation for lousy weather is overblown. Nor have I mentioned that there are some things about living here that I’m actually quite critical of. But my love for this place is enduring. I’m proud of my San Diego roots, but glad to have another home in Seattle, regardless of where I live for the rest of my life.

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  1. I share these thoughts man,
    also as one who has “not necessarily (left) Seattle for good, it has left good in me.”

    All the best to you on your new endeavors…

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