Thoughts on Privilege

I have a few thoughts about privilege that I would like to share. 

While doorbelling, I am acutely aware that as a tall, white male, I feel safe going door to door all the way up to 9:00pm on summer nights. And because of my race, I will most likely not be stopped by police as I canvas the largely white neighborhoods of District 6.

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July 11 - Doorbell Tales

Last night while doorbelling I spoke with a woman who lives on the edge of Carkeek Park. She told me about one or two homeless men who have been living in the park very close to her yard over the last two years. She came to know one of them pretty well. She worried for his safety when she saw big branches atop one of the tents after a windstorm. She called 911, and was relieved when police said they found no one inside. She is annoyed by the trash at the site and repelled by the stench of human waste. Yet she doesn't want to report the encampment. As long as they keep to themselves, and maintain clean spaces, she would be totally fine with them living there.

I think that this is an ambivalence that many of us who are fortunate to be housed feel towards people who are homeless. And the ambivalence may be harder to tolerate by people who experience more direct impacts. I think about the woman at the other night's meet and greet who told of living near the electrical substation at NW 47th and 8th NW. She has found needles and a jar of urine in her yard. She said that if her children, now grown, were a lot younger, she would be out of that neighborhood.

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July 10 - Parks Meetings and Doorbelling

Back to the doors after a wonderful community meeting last night in West Seattle to celebrate a design for a new park to be built in 2020 (my day job with Seattle Parks and Recreation) and a great meet and greet tonight hosted by our neighbors (thank you, John and Mary Kay!).

The first door was a man who owns a commercial fishing boat at Fisherman's Terminal. He does a lot of business at the maritime shops along Shilshole Avenue in Ballard. We had a great chat about the missing link in the Burke-Gilman bicycle and pedestrian trail. He thought it made most sense to have the trail run along the railroad tracks next to Shilshole all the way from Fred Meyer to the Ballard Locks. The City has already compromised with some maritime interests by agreeing to put the trail along Market St for about three blocks just east of the Locks and then the rest along the tracks. It's way past time to move forward with construction and fill in the long-awaited missing link segment!

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Ed Pottharst in Conversation with Erik Haugaard

The following interview was written and conducted by Erik Haugaard:

A couple of Fridays ago I battled the evening rush hour traffic, going over four blocks from my house to “Grumpy D’s” coffee house to meet Ed Pottharst for a sit down discussion of his candidacy. I was not terribly happy about being on the road that time of day so given my mood I think it was a good location choice. 

It occurred to me that, “Well I certainly could have walked.” Feeling a bit guilty about that I assured myself that I had already been to the gym that day and too much exercise was probably a very bad thing. 

I was a bit early so I got my coffee, sat down and then promptly received an email explaining that Ed would be just a little late, which left me time to survey the goings on in this local coffee house. There were several small groups of high school kids that were doing their homework together and a few tech-types hunched over their laptops.

 Grumpy’s is a pleasant place with good coffee, my wife and I have been there a handful of times. I noticed a sign on the wall stating “Grumpy Hour” I was curious about just what a Grumpy hour could be and was going to ask the barista when Ed walked in the door.

 I had done almost no research on Ed but when he walked in what was readily apparent is that he is quite athletic, lean and fit; clearly in good shape. Ed grabbed a bottle of water and came over and introduced himself. I noticed that he had a bit of perspiration on his face and idly wondered if the AC in his car had gone out because it was one of those warm June days. 

As it turns out the AC in Ed’s car was just fine, rather he had just ridden his bike seven miles from his job at the Parks and Recreation Department, downtown near Uwaijimaya. Ed rides his bike every day, rain or shine negotiating his way through downtown to work. For you bike enthusiasts, Ed rides a Bianchi Volpe 27-speed bike, and he recently passed the 20,000-mile mark, a feat he accomplished in just the last five years . . . . . .

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July 7 - Doorbelling in Blue Ridge

Last night I went doorbelling in Blue Ridge. A woman who answered the door asked me, a bit wearily, if I was soliciting. I replied, "I'm politicking." That brought a smile to her face. Still, I thought she was tired, and I decided to excuse myself. Ten minutes later, after I had finished talking with some folks on the next block, she caught up to me ⁠— flyer in hand. "I came to tell you that I read your flyer and love everything you say. It represents much of what our family believes. I'm glad you stopped by," she said.

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July 6 - Doorbelling in Northern Greenwood

A few of the people I have met while doorbelling the past few days...

Sonja, who brought out a pitcher of water at the end of a long day. From Georgia, she exudes Southern hospitality. She works at the Greenwood post office counter. If you go there, please tell her hello for me.

Andy, who with his family has run a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant in Greenwood named Banh Town for nearly five years. I had an excellent sandwich during a break.


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On Backyard Cottages in Ballard

In Ballard, backyard cottages and in-law apartments (“granny flats”) are on people’s minds. This is no doubt because earlier this week the City Council passed an ordinance intended to make it easier to build these. The Mayor has yet to sign it or not.

While doorbelling the other night, I met two households that already have these extra units on their lots...

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July 3 - Doorbelling in Greenwood, Fremont and Ballard

Recently I’ve been doorbelling in Greenwood, Fremont, and Ballard. I did some steep stair climbs in Fremont that reminded me of the training I did years ago hiking up Mt. Si with phone books in my daypack to prepare for a climb of Mt. Rainier. And one evening was pretty soggy, which reminded me that, well, we do live in Seattle after all.

In upper Fremont I heard concerns about a proposed 32-unit micro housing project. I spoke with five households about this project. They described a battle that has been going on for 2 ½ years among residents, the developer, and the City. Some of them formed a group and hired an attorney. The ongoing saga has caused stress, uncertainty, and discord. Afterwards, I researched the public record for the project. Here are comments from two residents that were submitted:

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