Yes, there really is a holiday called “Stay Away from Seattle” Day.
The official holiday on September 16th (according to Chase’s Calendar of Events) was championed by Tom Roy, in response to Emmett Watson’s founding of “Lesser Seattle” a sort of faux anti-Chamber of Commerce organization. Watson’s Lesser Seattle campaign slogan: “Keep the bastards out” served as a tongue-in-cheek response to too much tourism, too much development, and too many transplants relocating to the area.
Sadly, according to Knute Berger, Lesser Seattle is dead, killed by a sense of self-importance fueled by an out-of-control power hungry mayor.
In the civic arena, Lesser Seattle is barely a memory. The big ideas of Paul Schell are being replaced by the broad-shouldered, developer-friendly mania of the Greg Nickels years, when no project shall go unfunded. Bury the viaduct? A fleet of new trolleys? Light rail? Bust the cap and build more skyscrapers? New sports complexes? A rebuilt South Lake Union? Nickels’ city is the billionaires’ best friend. Condos, multiuse developments, public-private partnerships, mass transit: For these dreams, no price tag is too high.
So, let’s celebrate Stay Away from Seattle Day by taking back the Pike Place Market, picketing the new Hard Rock Cafe coming to downtown and boycotting every national chain invading our neighborhoods (except homegrown Starbucks.) Attend the meeting on the proposed rules to curb the sizes of larger “megahomes” in Seattle’s single family zones on Sept. 22 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. Join Historic Seattle and rally to save vintage homes in your neighborhood by identifying those that may be threatened by development. Support local institutions such as Town Hall and History Link and Crosscut and the Museum of History and Industry. SHOP LOCAL. Support the small businesses in your community instead of driving to Target or Walmart to buy your crap.
We can reclaim our home town. Vote. Attend community meetings, potlucks and any bake sales your local school or church has. Organize neighborhood yard sales, help build a pocket park, pick up litter, buy Girl Scout Cookies or whatever the neighborhood kids are selling. SUBSCRIBE TO THE SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER OR THE SEATTLE TIMES! Don’t let our local newspapers die. And while you’re at it, subscribe to your local neighborhood paper too. Listen to local radio, watch local television, weed your garden and sweep the sidewalk in front of your home.
It will take some effort, it may cost a bit more or be less convenient, but it’s a matter of our quality of life here in Seattle.
Happy Stay Away from Seattle Day. And welcome home.