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Thursday, January 5, 2006

Outside Agitators

Posted by on January 5 at 12:05 PM

This may come as a surprise, but I respect Knute Berger. He has a voice, and when he gets on a jag, like his anti-density stuff last year, people read him. Most important, his jags can compel debate. Erica C. Barnett and I, for example, felt compelled to take him on last spring in an essay we titled Moss Backwards after he’d written a series of anti-density columns. I usually don’t agree with the guy, and I think the Weekly is a sad, disengaged paper that needs an overhaul to get back into the news biz, but Berger himself seems to float above the Weekly’s shortcomings, a step removed from the fiasco/identity crisis over there. In short, he seems focused while his paper flounders.

I don’t know him personally. I’ve met him maybe once. We’ve talked on the phone once or twice. But he’s got a better vibe than his colleagues, who seem like insecure basket cases.

So, I was let down to see Knute (“Mossback”) go over the top and kind of parody (?) himself this week.
He wrote:

“Mossback doesn’t like the ways things are going. Too much growth, too much change, too many outsiders trying to grow palm trees—or skyscrapers—in our backyards. I think the only way to turn this thing around is to adopt measures that will turn newcomers off, yet reinforce local values.”

Given how paranoid, weird, sad (delicate) Knute sounds, I’m reluctant to even poke at him. But I’ve got to know: Who are these so-called outsiders?

The pro-skyscraper density crew is Team Nickels. They’re hardly outsiders. They are full-fledged Seattleites: Nickels, Ceis, Lowe, Bichsel, McComber, and last term, Corr. The monorail crowd? Nope. Weeks, Falkenbury, Sherwin, Cogswell. All longtime locals. The downtown developers? Alhadeff. Smith. Goodman. Klise. Local. Local. Local. Indeed, the engine for change seems to be homegrown.

I don’t know what outsiders Berger is talking about. Does he?

Heck, even Berger’s vaunted neighborhood movement is for change. As Erica and I wrote when we challenged Knute in our aforementioned Moss Backwards essay:

Fortunately, Berger is right on another point: The old anti-growth, anti-mass transit neighborhood movement is dying. But that doesn’t mean neighborhood voices are dying. It’s just that the new neighborhood voices aren’t saying what Berger wants to hear. Recently, Roosevelt residents provided crucial support for Sound Transit’s proposal to run light rail through the heart of their neighborhood, rather than along its periphery-guaranteeing dense redevelopment in a mostly single-family area. And Central Area and Beacon Hill residents support the Southeast Seattle Action Agenda, a neighborhood plan that calls for more density in their single-family zones.

So, who are the Outsiders? Village Voice Media? New Times? Mossback, maybe?

CommentsRSS icon

"outsider" is obviously secret code for "stranger."

I can understand the resentment towards people who moved here from out of state and want to tell old-timers how they should be living. I feek it, but I know it's more emotional than it is logical.

It's kind of like watching your favorite band blow up and become huge. You feel like you're entitled to them for yourself because you found them first and no one "gets it" like you do.

But that business about the palm trees-- I couldn't agree more. I knew I wasn't the only one who felt this way when new neighbors from California moved into my childhood neighborhood in Everett. They planted palm trees along the street in front of their house and in the middle of the night shortly after, someone sawed cut them down. I wrestled with "that's awful" and "that's hilarious" for awhile before hilarious won.

I've never seen palm trees here .. or maybe I just never noticed? where are these palm trees? I want to know.

There's one in front of the Wedgwood Top Pot location. Please don't cut it down, though, as I love those doughnuts and would hate to make the bakers cry.

There are two big palm trees in front of the Wedgwood Top Pot, and perhaps one stubby one near the corner (although I guess that could be a yucca or some other succulent --- I'm no expert). They're all part of their tribute to Randy's Donuts. But since the Top Pot owners live in Wedgwood, they're not very good outsiders. Well, I guess they could have come from outside a while ago, but Top Pot has been around sufficiently long enough on Capitol Hill to merit a palm tree planting (or two or three).

My only gripe about the palm trees is that the lights they put on the tall ones for Christmastime should have gone all the way up to the top. They look cooler that way.

Sounds like ole' Knute is trying to wrest the late Emmett Watson's "Lesser Seattle" movement from his cold, dead fingers...

"I am old, and I am afraid of things that are new, that I don't understand."

"I am old, and I am afraid of things that are new, that I don't understand."

I hope he can comprehend and warm to the idea of unemployment.

There are also (happy) palm trees on the rooftop of Pike Lofts on Pike Street and Minor Avenue. As far as I know, it was a native who put them there.

Christmas lights on palm trees are wrong. Those tacky rope lights seem like a better choice.

I don't agree about the rope lights, but aren't rope lights Christmas lights, anyway?

Anyway, having recently visited Southern California, white lights on the trunk and green lights on the leaves looks a lot more stylish than just white lights on the trunk (which is what the Top Pot palm trees were decorated with).

Another Christmas decorating idea I saw in Southern California that I have yet to see here: hanging lights, wreaths, etc. on the electrical wires that cross your street, and on the streetlight poles.

Cruise down 3rd Ave NW right before it hits Leary in Frelard. There's a house there with at least 50 palm trees. Been there forever, too, probably a lot longer than Knute Berger.

So who are the Outsiders?

Why, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, of course!

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