That's what this week's Person of Interest, Luke Baumgarten, the cofounder of the arts organization Terrain, called people who were fleeing Seattle for Spokane, especially the artists who have struggled to pay $1,000-plus rents in this city.
Tacoma might be the next one up to be invaded in Washington State, but we're looking ahead, far ahead—and east, to Spokane. Between 2000 and 2010, Spokane's population has grown 6.8 percent according to the US Census. The median home price in Spokane is $160,000 (in Seattle it's $624,000), and there's just enough to do to not be bored. Spokane has a walkable downtown, plenty of bars and clubs, independent movie theaters and bookstores, and its restaurants—like Seattle's—are getting more sophisticated by the day. As a Lyft driver told me, "It's got some big-city trappings without big-city problems."
No wonder, then, a group of artists and writers living in Spokane didn't want us to write about it. An artist/writer who left Seattle for Spokane wrote us an e-mail, cosigned by 13 other Spokanites, warning us to stay away.
"Please do not come here. Your attention is unwanted and poses many potential problems. The content you publish could do actual harm to the people who actually live here," they wrote.
Though this letter enlisted the language of social justice to articulate the objection to The Stranger's attentions, the subtext was perfectly clear. When they said we "could do actual harm," presumably they meant we could ruin their sweet deal.
Well, actually, we totally ruined it. We came, we Tindered, we ate, we interviewed, we met Rachel Dolezal, we drank, we shopped for records, we talked, we learned, and then we left. What did we learn? That contrary to years of derisive comments among Seattle arrivistes, Spokane is a perfectly lovely place to visit and it seems poised to be a perfectly fine place to live. Scoff all you want. If Seattle keeps going the way it's going, a lot of us are going to need somewhere to flee to.
Did we mention it's really sunny? (TRICIA ROMANO)