I've lived in Seattle my entire life. Over the years I've watched scores of friends pack up and leave for places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Chicago and New York--places, we should all be able to agree, that are far more exciting than our often-sleepy burg. For the most part, though, I've been happy to remain here. Part of this has to do with the fact that Seattle's home. Another part has to do with this very rag you're holding. Perhaps the biggest reason for my staying, though, is the fact that, whining souls aside, Seattle is a pretty damn great place to live--and I'll defend it to anyone who complains otherwise.

That is, I'll defend it until the absurd moment when the monorail recall succeeds. If/when that happens, I'll be more than happy to line up with the rest of the complainers--the out-of-towners and the chumps who refuse to leave Seattle in favor of remaining and whining about it--in declaring that our city is indeed a backwater shithole, afraid of both the possibility of growth and the possibility for excitement. If the monorail loses, Seattle will officially suck. The culture of no, as it's called, will have triumphed.

What is it about this place? Why can't we seem to build anything save for awful new buildings (the Central Library being a rare exception) and stadiums we don't want? The oft-pinpointed culprit is the "Seattle Way," a process that seems to give continental drift a run for its money in the poky department. As a city, we're afraid of change--which is strange given how liberal we are--and this fear routinely cripples any sort of progress our city tries to make. It goes beyond simple NIMBYness. It's something more, a sort of NIMBYness compounded with preciousness, and natives such as myself are often the haughtiest of the bunch.

The Seattle I grew up in is not the Seattle of today. Emmett Watson, the Kingdome, the Seattle Weekly--each has died, or is in the process of dying. This isn't radical change, however, it's natural decay, something every city goes through. And when something decays--at least in other cities--then, as simple biology reminds us, something new will usually sprout in its place. Seattle, though, continually fights against new growth, choosing instead to blindly insist that nothing is dying of its own natural accord, but that everything wonderful and beautiful about our city is being rudely displaced. The old guard in Seattle believes that change is not helping the city grow, it's invading. What they fail to realize is that everything they love about the city is already dying, if not already dead.

And is that so wrong? Cities are living and breathing spaces, and in order to survive they need turnover and growth. Otherwise they crumble--see Cleveland or Detroit, or even downtown Seattle in the '80s. There is much I love about old Seattle, but I would gladly give it up in order to have a city that actually aspires to be engaging and noteworthy, that is not afraid of change and the possible risks it brings along with it. My entire life in Seattle has been spent with no real viable public transportation option. Buses are slow and quite often erratic, I-5 is routinely an overcrowded joke, and the lack of swift transportation has not only been a lifelong chore but has inhibited me from fully enjoying the city. Ballard? Georgetown? West Seattle? Each has been like a remote outpost to me my entire life, occasionally visited, but usually too complicated to get to on a regular basis. The monorail--the only really viable option for our city--would help rectify this. Seattle, finally, after all these years will truly be open to me.

At least, it will be open to me if the Seattle Way doesn't destroy our chance to build a rapid transit system. As it stands now, our city is a stilted city, unable to grow due to both its lack of rapid transit and its often-idiotic populace. The monorail will fix the former, as long as the latter doesn't get in its way. I've never found myself ashamed of living in Seattle--if I-83 succeeds, I will.