April 7th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

Mayor Mike McGinn is one of the civic leaders who’ve submitted short essays to Dan Bertolet’s new CityTank.org, on the topic of celebrating urban life.

McGinn’s piece is a photo essay (merely excerpted below) that reads like a manifesto:

Sarah Palin and other figures on the right like to talk about “small town values” as being “the real America.” We know better. These are our values:

  • We have great urban places, where people can live and shop in the same building. And we protect them.
  • Seattleites create and use urban spaces – their way. From the bottom up.
  • We take care of each other – and we feed each other.
  • We’re not scared of new ideas.
  • We think idealism is a virtue.
  • We play like it matters, because it does.
  • We stand up for each other.
  • We share our cultures with each other. And the music, the art, the food…is astounding.
  • We love race and social justice.
  • We expect our youth to achieve.

President Barack Obama called on America to win the future. Mr. President, the people of Seattle are ready.

Since I believe one good manifesto deserves another, I hereby offer my own:

David Guterson and other figures on Bainbridge Island like to talk about the countryside as being the only real place to live. We know better. These are our values:

  • We value diverse workplaces and gatherings. Upscale white men alongside upscale white women—and even upscale white gays.
  • Yet we also admire African Americans; preferably if they are both musical and dead.
  • We champion the institution of public education, as long as our own kids can get into a private school.
  • We celebrate people’s expressions of sexuality, provided they’re not too, you know, sexual.
  • We strive toward progressive, inclusive laws and policies except when they would inconvenience business.
  • We take pride in our urban identity, as we build more huge edifices and monuments to desperately prove how world class we are.
  • We support the arts, particularly when that support doesn’t stick us in the same room with unkempt artists.
  • We value regional planning and cooperation, even with those mouth-breathing hicks out there.
  • We protect and enhance the environment, particularly those environments we drive 40 miles or more to hike in.
  • We love a strong, vital music scene that’s in someone else’s neighborhood.
  • We appreciate our heritage. We moan about how everything in this town sucks; then, years later, we claim it was great back then but all sucks now.
  • We value a strong, independent news media, regularly alerting us to the city’s 103 Best Podiatrists.
  • We admire innovation and original ideas, especially if they’re just like something from New York or San Francisco.
  • We support locally-based businesses until they get too big.

President Barack Obama has advocated “the fierce urgency of now.” Mr. President, the people of Seattle will get around to it once they’ve finished playing Halo: Reach.

One Response  
  • Louis Eugene Carabini writes:
    April 8th, 201110:45 pmat

    For now though let s recognize our transit network for what it is a work in progress..Let s seize the opportunity presented by Seattle s future transit hubs and underbuilt core neighborhoods like Denny Triangle and South Downtown by working together to encourage higher-density development that enables future Seattleites as Mayor McGinn might say to walk bike and ride in their daily commutes..Let s honor our city s rich architectural and cultural history by preserving vestiges of Seattle s past and weaving them into its future as a foundation for sustainable growth..Seattle is not yet a finished productit s not even close. It was an idyllic childhood really not unlike the one depicted in Arthur Ransome s Swallows and Amazons. As a design strategy it would future-proof Seattle by improving the likelihood that the system and its services will perform successfully under a wide range of future environments and day-to-day conditions.

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