The last thing Seattle needs is some system reboot to its “last saved version.” We don’t need those program files restored. Not the crises of affordability, not the persistent disparity in education, resources, and opportunities. Not the heinously lopsided “economic growth,” not the endless civic “community feedback processes” that forever result somehow in more of the same. And definitely not the feel-good liberal jargon that tactfully, tactically sugarcoats it all.
I do not wish to renew that Seattle. The one that shames poverty and insurrection on its stolen streets while reinforcing historic and current inequities and exalting the mediocrity and empty virtue-signaling of the powers that be. The one sowing distrust and division through each and every crevice of its systems while simultaneously asking how to close the distance. How to heal wounds consistently being prodded at and picked. I am over that Seattle, one that is either willfully ignorant or blatantly fearful of the brilliance, radical legacies, creative autonomy, and cultural resilience of its people.
It’s been a long time, and change is on time.
And time is a strange thing.
We generally perceive “a present” and a “passage” of time, but neither of humanity’s big theories on physics — general relativity and quantum mechanics — explains the experience very well, nor its implications. In a recent article on the topic, physicist Renato Rennor said, “If I look at where we have paradoxes and what problems we have, in the end they always boil down to this notion of time.”
But of course it isn’t time that’s the real problem. It’s a synthesis issue. We just haven’t figured out how all the stuff works together yet. We are lacking a Grand Unified Theory on physics. Yet physics works regardless.
I think the same is true of the fertile ecosystem of creatives, cultural workers, activists, artists, and community organizers collectively spinning a better, more beautiful, equitable, sustainable Seattle. Though we lack a Grand Unified Theory, our threads of kindred love labor are inextricable. My future gaze sees us less fearful and more inspired by this fact. Less siloed and more curious about the overlaps. Less reluctant and more eager to collab. etc.
The year 2020 has been wild. But if we’ve learned anything from it, it’s this: These strange times are ours — to hold, bend, and mold. So the best thing to do is free the artists in our souls.*
*And continue learning how to channel more of our brilliance and creativity into cultivating emergent, hyperlocal community cooperatives for mutual aid, housing, land ownership, business development, food sovereignty, independent media, community- and culturally-rooted wellness and education, etc. Ecologically — symbiotically — so we can all divest from lesser systems all the faster. 🙏🙏🙏
Julie-C is a hip-hop artist and community organizer hailing from the Coast Salish Autonomous Zone/Technocratic City-State of Seattle. Stream her latest album Sovereign Queen Archives Vol. 1 on all platforms here, and follow her on IG @JouleSea and @ForeverSafeSpaces.
Illustration by Vladimir Verano