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Video: Who’s a Seattleite? Here’s what you think it takes to earn Seattle cred

What does it mean to be a Seattleite? And what does it take to become one? The first video in our native/transplant series, which tackled these questions head-on, got a lot of you talking last week. GeekWire and KUOW sparked their own conversations, former mayor Mike McGinn reflected on his own local-ness, and even Dick’s Drive-In shared it out.

We’re never going to agree on one set of criteria for what it takes to belong here. But the more we talk about it, the better we understand why we love this place, and why we want everyone in it to love it, too. Here are the highlights:

‘Not here to take over, just want to blend in.’  

That’s just one comment from Seattle newbies who called in to KUOW’s The Record on Thursday. But how do you “blend in” to a place that’s changing this fast? Our editor Mónica Guzmán talked with host Bill Radke about the themes in the video and what surprises newcomers about the city.

Reasons matter

“First: do you want to be considered a local because your feelings are hurt by the things locals say about the influx of new tech (etc.) workers and you want to earn that merit badge so that you know they aren’t talking about you? Or do you want to be a local because you want to feel a sense of connection to the people and the city that surrounds you?” — Rachel Helm

A question of time

“If you have lived here continuously for 15 years, you should consider yourself ‘native.’ With so many moving in (and out) in this century, I think this is fair. Whether you feel like a ‘native’ is a different question.” — Michael J. Derr

Have you seen it all?

“I’ll add one other ‘native’ criteria – you need to have seen at least one boom-bust cycle. Whether that’s the aerospace downturn of the 80s, the dot-com boom/bust of the late 90s, or the financial crisis of the aughts. If you’re really going to call yourself a native, you have to have been here – and stayed – when we were on the downside, not just the upside.” — Jim Gaynor

Raising Seattleites

“I gave birth to two Seattleites, so I’m pretty sure I can call myself a local because I’m raising my children to be and love Seattle. It is about how you feel, and not how other people see you.” — Alexandra Panic

Seattleites’ ‘energy of dissatisfaction.’

“Seattle has an energy of dissatisfaction with itself. Seattle is a striving town,” local musician and politician John Roderick told the crowd at the XOXO festival in Portland last fall. “I think you’re a local when you understand the discontentment this town breeds so much you start striving and changing… even as you’re growing moss.” — Dylan Wilbanks

‘Everyone does stuff’

“What I loved about Seattle was that everyone does stuff. They don’t go to work come home and watch TV all the time. They are involved in so many things. I have friends that are singers, puppeteers, burlesque performers, and clowns, while simultaneously being programmers, professors, students, and toy makers! It’s such an exciting place!” — Erin Weathers

Know the Seattle backstory

“I think that if somebody wants to identify as a Seattleite, they should also want to spend a little time understanding the city’s history, and how it became what it is today…Seattle is a 166-year-old process, and not just a place on the map in 2017. ” — James Cameron

“Learn the history of the Coastal Salish indigenous peoples that densely inhabited this area before being slaughtered and wiped out by Europeans less than 200 years ago. There’s a reason our city names are so hard to pronounce and yes, you do need to learn how to pronounce them.” — Danny Lange

Embrace the openness

“I think this is pretty good at capturing what it means to be a Seattleite. Peg and I made it our home because it felt like it was open to people wanting to make a full life here, as part of a bigger community. We have, in ways we never imagined. This openness, this ethos, is what we need to keep more than any other thing.” — Mike McGinn

Can you ever really be a Seattleite if you weren’t born here?

“Don’t chase it – it’s not a badge or achievement. Figure out what it is about Seattle and the PacNW that draws you to want to be a ‘local,’ and embrace those things.” — Jim Gaynor

All about the love

“If you feel like a local, if you love this city and want to dig in and engage with it, you’ve earned it, I’d say.” — Vicki Weeks

You do you

“Give the stereotypes a rest. I think the most Seattle thing to do is be yourself. It’s entirely possible to be ‘a local’ while never going hiking, always using an umbrella, and never shopping at Whole Foods.” — Rachel Helm

By Mónica Guzmán
Mónica is the cofounder and editor of The Evergrey. She's been a Seattle journalist for a decade and adores this city.