Ideas to save Seattle’s soul during rapid redevelopment

What I Read: The CAP Report: 30 Ideas for the Creation, Activation, & Preservation of Cultural Space, released by the City of Seattle, Office of Arts & Culture (Pages 1–24)

Why I Clicked On It: Because I see the way we Seattlites all collectively moan at the addition of a new, boxy office/apartment building—with an oh-so-inspiring Subway or bank at ground floor—to our cherished neighborhoods.

I clicked on this report because I believe (and hope) this doesn’t have to be the case. Wouldn’t new development be a little more palatable if it didn’t displace that local music venue and restaurant you loved — or if it maybe set aside new space specifically for artist studios or an independent bookstore?

Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture has been surveying and researching cultural spaces in Seattle for a while now — and I’ve eagerly awaited what they would do as a result of these efforts. This report is the beginning! That’s why I clicked.

2-Sentence Synopsis: Cultural spaces — think galleries, studios, live music venues, theaters, etc. — add value to neighborhoods in all sorts of wonderful ways, and yet they don’t tend to survive very long in the face of rapid redevelopment. The City’s Office of Arts & Culture offers up 30 policy ideas that could be implemented right here in Seattle to ensure we see more, not less, arts and culture in our neighborhoods — even when new development is happening all around.

“What stands in the way of creating more cultural space is an exhausting series of relatively low hurdles.” — The CAP Report

What it’s got to do with you (and me): Look, I’ve been in Capitol Hill on a Friday night after 11 p.m. As a result, I know how we all love funkiness and things that stay open past 9 o’clock. That stuff doesn’t just show up out of the blue. You’ve got to create room for artists, not to mention cultural diversity, if you want a place like Capitol Hill to pop into existence.

If you hope Seattle (or wherever you live) stays interesting, vibrant, and inspiring — then you better support policies that make room for artists and a diversity of cultural influences. The CAP report is a great place to learn what those types of policies look like.

What I felt when I read it: Hopeful. I get overwhelmed trying to find the solution to a problem, and it was refreshing to read a broad, inclusive list of contributing solutions to an issue. Each of the ideas is not so far-fetched or infeasible. I find hope in the notion of plugging away slowly at what this report has to offer, tackling a few ideas at a time.

I’ll admit I also felt a little jealous. It’s a really beautiful report that I wish I’d been party to creating.

This is Part 1 of a series on the CAP Report. In upcoming posts, I will give some insights about some of the specific policy ideas suggested in the report.