Thursday, August 23, 2007

Get Up, Stand Up!

I used to live in a beautiful apartment building in Ballard. With Josh moving in and the need for a bit more space (A 570 sq. ft. apt was too small for BOTH of us!), it was easy to vacate when they raised the rent. My lease had been up for several years already so we just had to find a new place and move. I had a feeling that some bad stuff was going down because people were getting evicted left and right. It was a good time to go. Luckily, we were able to.

I went to a meeting a couple nights ago for the current tenants of Lock Vista (my old. apt. bldg) to discuss the impending condo-conversion. Apparently, 900 condo conversions have happened in the last six months in Seattle. This is BAD news for folks who cannot afford a $250K studio (540 sq. ft!). This forces more people to seek affordable housing (both subsidized by the city and not) elsewhere. But with all the condo-conversions, where will they go? Aha! They will go far away from the "nice" neighborhood and settle in the suburbs or exurbs and continue to be neglected there. Housing costs will rise and then of course only the really rich people will be able to live in the "nice" neighborhood. That always works out well.

This completely angered me. I was a renter for a long time. I was an upstanding citizen (as a renter) who smiled at people and helped make our neighborhood a neighborhood. Varying incomes in a geographic location keeps this neighborhood mentality in tact. People with families can afford to live in nice neighborhoods when rent isn't too high or condos aren't too expensive. Just because you take away their housing, poor people don't evaporate. Their services are in cities, and less so in suburbs. While no one wants urine filled buses or unruly intoxicated people hanging around, taking away affordable housing DOES NOT HELP THAT.

So I went to the meeting to provide support and offer suggestions of getting folks in Ballard to be aware of the changing landscape. What makes Ballard interesting is the diversity. Artists can afford to live there, families can afford to live there, professionals can afford to live there, etc. It felt good to take a stand and offer support.

When I feel complacent and inactive (as I did on the SAD), I do not *feel* moved to act. I hope someone else has more energy to help. I usually feel hopeless and unhelpful and then apathetic. But apathy is a thing of the past. I feel strongly about things now. I don't feel defeated at all. In fact, I feel more connected to God and then more connected to this oneness that exists around me (with or without my acknowledgement, thankfully). Byron Katie frames it in a good way and I'll paraphrase here. If I see a discarded can in the desert, then it's not enough to be angry that someone left a can there. The discarded garbage gives me a chance to pick it up, to be of service. So thank goodness for the can.

Here's a blog and several comments about this Ballard condo-conversion:
I'm all for DENSITY, but that includes diversity of income so EVERYONE can live in a great neighborhood.

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