4 to Explore: A Northeast Neighborhoods Newsletter

Engage More

Engage More

Read “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs

As bloggers posing as journalists in Seattle reduce people’s heartfelt views and concerns into tweetable labels like “NIMBY” and “Density Demagogues”, it’s important to take a deep breath and seek to understand all sides.

Jane Jacobs is a lighthouse for me. In her seminal work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jacobs wrote, “To generate exuberant diversity in a city’s streets and districts, four conditions are indispensable”

1. “The Need for Mixed Primary Uses” “These must insure the presence of people who go outdoors on different schedules and are in the place for diffferent purposes.”

2. “The Need for Small Blocks” “That is, streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent.”

3. “The Need for Aged Buildings.” “The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce.” “…Hundreds of ordinary enterprises, necessary to the safety and public life of streets and neighborhoods, and appreciated for their convenience and personal quality, can make out succesfully in old buildings, but are inexorably slain by the high overhead of new construction.”

4. “The Need for Concentration” “This includes dense concentration in the case of people who are there because of residence.” “However, it will not do to jump to the conclusion that all areas of high dwelling density in cities do well. They do not, and to assume that this is ‘the’ answer would be to oversimplify outrageously.” “The reason dwelling densities can begin repressing diversity if they get too high is this: At some point, to accommodate so many dwellings on the land, standardization of the buildings must set in. This is fatal, because great diversity in age and types of buildings has a direct, explicit connection with diversity of population, diversity of enterprises and diversity of scenes.”

“The necessity for these four conditions is the most important point this book has to make…The purpose of explaining them one at a time is purely for convenience of exposition, not because any one — or even any three — of these necessary conditions is valid alone. ALL four in combination are necessary to generate city diversity.”

For a summary of the book from Wikipedia, CLICK HERE.

To order the book from a Northeast Seattle bookstore Third Place Books, CLICK HERE.

Engage More

The Pen Is Mightier

Is the pen mightier than the sword? Yes. And e-mail is mightier than the pen — if done well.  For August and September I encouraged you to subscribe to your neighborhood blog and join your Community Council. Here’s another way to Engage More: write brief E-MAILS TO YOUR CITY OFFICIALS with a specific request on city issues.  Advice for the best response:
(1) Write your entire “letter” in the e-mail; do NOT attach it.
(2) State your position in the Subject line. Example: “Please support the City Council’s Preschool for All plan.
(3) Make “your ask” specific. “Vote Yes on Sept 23rd for the City Council’s Preschool for All plan (Resolution 31478).
(4) Be brief.  Use punchy “bullet points” or a numbered list for each point in favor of your position.
(5) Keep it calm, clean, and clear. Convey passion by getting your neighbors to write e-mails, too, rather than making your single e-mail longer and louder.
(5) Ask for a response if you want one.
(6) Send it to just the right people. If it’s a policy, budget, legislative proposal, or other “big picture” issue, you can reach all 9 Seattle City Councilmembers by sending it to council@seattle.gov. To reach the current mayor: http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/contact-the-mayor. For a list of the people in charge of each city department, click here.  If something needs fixing in your neighborhood, contact the Customer Service Bureau (see “Get Results” above).

If you need help getting started or want other ideas if your initial e-mails do not produce a response, contact me at alex@alexpedersen.org .

Engage More

Follow Your Neighborhood Blogs

Last month I encouraged you to join your Community Council which meets monthly. Another way to Engage More is to subscribe to your NEIGHBORHOOD BLOG or “LIKE” their Facebook page. Many neighborhoods also have a “listserv” with periodic e-mails about community events or crime alerts. (While “4 to Explore” highlights several neighborhoods in Northeast Seattle, these other options delve deeper and more frequently into your neighborhood.) Click on these titles to check out the “Eastlake Blog,” “Laurelhurst Blog,” “Ravenna Blog,” “Roosevelt’s Roosie,” “Wallyhood“, “Wedgwood View” (Ridge), and many others. If you need help getting started, send an e-mail to me at alex@alexpedersen.org so that I can connect you with your neighborhood leaders and writers. (Do you recognize the journalist in this photo? Good Night and Good Luck!)

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