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Shaun is an author, historian and filmmaker who’s been keeping busy politically, workshopping ideas from the bluer side of things as a writer for CityArts, an organizer for the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, and a staffer for U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal. (He also just wrote quite the talker on the head tax.)
His latest project asks how we best grow the city today by looking at how we tried to do it decades ago — through a package of more than a dozen ballot initiatives called Forward Thrust.
The Forward Thrust initiatives came up in 1968 and 1970 “to prepare Seattle for its next wave of growth,” Shaun told us, and gave us tons of new parks, an upgraded sewer system, and the Mariners and Seahawks, among other things. But some bold proposals we would have loved to have by now — like 47 miles of rail transit — never made it.
We checked in with Shaun to see how things look from where he stands (and condensed our Q&A for clarity).
Why did you want to dive deeper into this bit of Seattle history?
I was feeling like there’s a lot of political stagnation now and many groups are acting out of a sense of self-interest, not being able to see all of the ways in which taking on big civic improvement programs actually make everybody’s lives better.
Being stuck is no fun. As you see it, what’s contributing to that now?
If you have politicians that are kind of scared [about their chances of getting re-elected], you’re not really going to have leadership that’s taking a lot of big swings.
People who are already privileged are feeling like they’re getting kicked to the curb, but really what’s going on is we’re trying to get resources out of the hands of folks who have historically had too many and try to distribute those more broadly.
We just had a heated debate over a head tax. As a progressive activist, how do you reach people who disagree with you?
I think that’s a lot of it has to do with understanding where the anxieties are — for example, the fear that the city is going to mismanage money that [would have] come about as a result of the head tax.
I think it’s important for those of us on the left in particular to recognize that Seattle voters historically have had a fear of largesse and a fear of one big government program infringing on the autonomy of populations.
Seattleites would’ve loved some of those Forward Thrust initiatives. How do you see history repeating itself today?
I [see a lot of people] acting mostly out of a scarcity mentality that says, “What am I going to be able to get now or over the next three to four years?” as opposed to thinking in more sophisticated ways about how can all of us benefit for longer.
Check out our extended interview with Shaun here and go see his talk tomorrow night at Seattle University at 7:30 p.m. to learn more about Forward Thrust. Thanks to readers Giuliana Isaksen and Brian Stout for suggesting we reach out to Shaun. Know someone else we should spotlight? Hit reply or email us at [email protected].
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Don’t lose your cool, WA. Here’s something we’re the slowest at: warming. According to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington’s average yearly temperature has climbed the least of all 50 states in the last 30 years. We’ve warmed just over half a degree, while every other state has gotten at least one degree sweatier. One possible reason? All those winds off the west. P.S.: The state that’s warmed most might surprise you, considering its general chill. (The Seattle Times)
Happy Juneteenth! Slavery became history in the U.S. on June 19, 1865 (psst — that’s two years after the Emancipation Proclamation). Want to let freedom ring? Head to the Central District tonight to hear your neighbors share stories about the times they’ve busted through barriers in dating, career, religion, and life. (Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute)
A different solution to homelessness. More people are experiencing homelessness in Seattle right now than at any other time we’ve kept track. One way our city’s been trying to deal with that is by trying to raise money to build affordable housing just for low-income locals. But it’s not the only idea in town. “The housing crisis is primarily due to a supply shortage, which has resulted in skyrocketing prices,” the Libertarian Party of King County wrote in The Stranger. “Until that supply shortage is resolved, no amount of taxing and spending will get us affordable housing for the middle class… much less the poor.” On that note, our county had one home for sale for every 230 people not too long ago. Now? It’s one home for sale for every 1,060 people. 😳 (The Stranger)
#Emojiquake. The world needs an earthquake emoji. Want to design it? A group of earthquake experts — including two from Washington state — are hosting an open competition to come up with a symbol that says “earthquake” to lots of people, in any language, real fast. “The global search for #emojiquake begins,” says the website. Got an iconic idea? Send it in by July 14. (The Seattle Times, #Emojiquake)
🌞 Foundation's Summer Solstice Fête Summer is coming... Get ready for playful fun and new friends! BBQ, drinks, summer camp activities, s'mores, and of course a groovin dance sesh!
💪 Tomorrow: When do you keep pushing, and when do you call it a day? Learn how to tell the difference at this Impact Hub Lunch + Learn (Pioneer Square)
🍻 Tuesday, June 26: Hang out with fellow readers of The Evergrey and Seattle magazine at Seapine Brewing Company for good beer, good company, and craft brew trivia with WashingtonBeerBlog’s Kendall Jones (SoDo)
Want to partner on your event with us? Here’s how.
🎈 Snag free ice cream for Full Tilt’s birthday (Capitol Hill)
💡 Learn about PNW pollinators from fellow bee nerds (Columbia City)
🗣 Hear from black storytellers in honor of Juneteenth (Central District)
💡 Get geeky about city planning with a local historian (Capitol Hill)
🎟 Laugh it up at Seattle’s International Festival of Improv — through June 24 (Downtown)
💡 Workshop a tricky kind of career decision at this Evergrey partner event (Pioneer Square)
💡 Learn about the culture and science of motherhood — moderated by Evergrey cofounder Anika Anand (Capitol Hill)
🎶 Sway to global tunes on the first official day of summer (Downtown)
🎟 Blush at a “steamy oasis”-themed burlesque show — through June 24 (Downtown)
🍿 Talk tentacles at Cephalopod Movie Night (Queen Anne) — use promo code EVERGREY for a discount!
🍴 Fill up on tasty bites and check out cool art (Tacoma)
🍷 Sip vino while wandering around the East Side (Kirkland)
🌈 Kick off Pride weekend with fellow trans and non-binary Seattleites (Capitol Hill)
🏞 Ride your bike through the countryside (Carnation)
🍴 Check out the Shake Shack pop-up at Canlis (Queen Anne)
👋 Sniff your way through your neighbors’ gardens (West Seattle)
🌈 Celebrate Pride with a march, cupcakes, and “doggie drag” (Capitol Hill)
🏞 Compete in a strawberry shortcake eating contest (Bellevue)
🎈 Take the family to dance and make (or buy) local art (Shoreline)
🌈 Cheer on your neighbors marching in the Pride Parade (Downtown, Queen Anne)
🎈 Celebrate our region’s slugs at “the most unusual Northwest Festival ever” (Eatonville)
Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #theevergrey on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with an Evergrey membership.
If you ever wanted to see a giant cow go through the Ballard Locks, today’s your lucky day.
And speaking of luck, reader Brendan Woodell placed today’s community ad (the one with the * 👆) as one of our winners of a free promo spot to shout an an awesome local thing. Brendan picked Ballard’s RenFitness, he said, because they’ve trained him and his fellow Ultimate frisbee players as multi-sport athletes, and “we like to support and lift each other up.” Stay tuned for a couple more shoutouts this week.
We’ll see you tomorrow. – The Evergrey
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