Saving Seattle’s Community Soul in the Midst of the Tech Boom

keep-calm-and-love-seattle-14While the intersection of technology and culture continues speeding ahead, the fight to preserve Seattle’s wonderful culture continues to evolve.

You’ve probably read, or heard about, the latest New York Times article about Seattle that reflects what a few cities including Seattle are going through.

We’re in an odd new culture where growing numbers of tech workers make a lot of money while most other Seattleites earn average wages.

Most of us have to compete to afford rents and mortgages that are rising much faster than most of us can financially keep up with. All of us have to deal with the escalating traffic issues that come with all the new tech workers flocking to Seattle.

The tech industry as a whole is benefiting the most from Seattle’s boom and therefore it’s our responsibility to be active in helping to mold Seattle’s future.

As we say at New Tech, it’s not about Seattle or Eastside, old or young, tech or non-tech, we’re all people living and working together who should support each other in doing great things and living great lives.

There are no easy answers, but at least our community and government are engaged in finding ways to not end up with the problems San Francisco is facing. Besides what they’re doing, it’s important for us to do what we can do individually.

I believe we have many opportunities to harness the community spirit Seattle has always had to direct our growth in positive ways. A lot of the negative consequences Silicon Valley is facing arose from not paying attention to the people and communities that have been affected by their tech boom.

While everyone arguably has a civic duty to the city they live in, there are usually a large number of people that aren’t very civically minded. In case this is based on not being aware of what can be done, here are a few suggestions:

1. Be active in diverse communities. The more we interact with non-tech communities and listen to their stories while sharing our own, the more opportunities we’ll have to discover unseen solutions to the issues being created by the uber-growth of our tech sector.

2. Support the arts, music and other cultural communities that have built the Seattle culture we love.

3. Vote. My understanding is that 60% of downtown Seattle residents, who mostly work at tech companies, aren’t registered to vote.

4. Follow which candidates are supporting solutions that are aligned with how you believe Seattle should change or should be doing more of what’s already great.

5. Talk with your friends and coworkers about how Seattle is changing and support each other in taking actions to save and grow the soul of Seattle. Share stories of community building experiences you have with others to inspire them to get involved in ways that speak to them.

6. Share your good fortune. Put at least a little of your time, energy or money towards causes you believe in. We’re walking our talk on this with the Geeks Give Back campaign helping the future of tech, and we’re working on partnering with Union Gospel Mission for our community to contribute to the non-tech Seattle population also.

7. Follow the progress of WTIA’s Full ConTech and join in if you’re moved to be a part of the positive changes ahead.

Seattle is a city full of givers. Together we’ll use the best of Seattle’s soul to navigate our way through these interesting times on to a future with promise for our community as a whole.

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