Can Belltown be Saved?

Updated: Feb 2, 2019

It's been an up and down week, for Belltown. On Tuesday we celebrated our neighborhood and our artists; our food, and our people. We built connections with Seattle Political Ambassadors. We watched incredible local music. But we also got the news that developers are again on the demolition path, for the central block of 2nd Avenue.

I have heard from a lot of the #HumansOfBelltown in the past three days, and I want to say this: I hear you. And yes, it is understandable to be feeling hopeless. It is reasonable to be wary of having false hope. It is insanely hard to keep hoping to save what we love, when everything around us seems to be slipping away. I really do hear you. I understand that sometimes my loud insistence that "Belltown can be saved" can start to sound hollow, when it seems like nothing is changing. And I know that the change can be hard to see.

All I can respond with is the truth about what I believe. I look at all the data we have, about all the options we have, and I remain hopeful. Not eternally hopeful, perhaps. But the spark is not dead. We are not without options. So as long as that spark of hope is alive - for me personally - I am going to work to show you that those options still exist.

In the coming days and weeks, I'll be posting a lot of articles about the specifics of what those options could look like, but ultimately it comes down to this: 2019 is an election year. Belltown is part of Council District 7 (D7) and D7 is an open seat, which means the current Council rep is retiring, and a brand new person will be elected, no matter what. That means it'll be a hotly contested race, and the candidates will be competing for voters' support.

It's our job to make sure that whomever gets elected is someone who is fully educated about Belltown. It's our job to make sure that the next Council rep is someone who will fight for Belltown. Because of you - the #HumansOfBelltown - a handful of the current front-runners are already listening. They're listening because you showed up to Rise Up 2018 last summer, and they're listening because you showed up to Rise Up Winter three days ago.

Big local election years are also prime opportunities to put big local initiatives on the ballot. Believe me, I know how that sounds. To try to run an initiative "as Belltown by ourselves" would be an extremely heavy lift, if it was even possible at all. But if we can find allies from across the City, then we might just have a chance. And there are many allies to be found.

Luckily, we have gathered a lot of data over the past 4 years, that can be put to good use. We've learned lessons, and talked to hundreds of people in Belltown, and talked to dozens of public policy professionals, and the result is that we actually have a pretty thorough proposal to put on the table. The structural bones of an initiative are already written. Belltown has been mapping them out, by learning from the hard lessons of our losses that have been happening for decades.

Those structural bones have been published in the Rise Up Welcome Book that was updated for the Winter, but there will be a lot more posts about the specifics in the coming days and weeks, here on the Rise Up Blog. The plan is to bring this proposal to our allies, and build a coalition that has a realistic chance of succeeding.

The spark is not dead. And I will do my best to show you why. Please don't be afraid to ask questions. Please don't be afraid to be skeptical. This only works, when we work together.

You can follow @RiseUpBelltown on Instagram for daily updates, or sign-up for our weekly email updates, and you can follow us here on this blog. If you would like to help shape these policies and and strategies, we would welcome your support! Get on the BOAT, and join the Policy Advisory Team. We'd love to have you. :)