Recently, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a proposal that would clear the way for a dramatic makeover of Yesler Terrace. The overarching concern for the community is whether this makeover would lead to rising rent that would push out the small mom-and-pop businesses that have long lent charm to the International District community. The term “gentrification” has been thrown around as a primary concern of this issue.
However, we should not let our fear of these changes lead us to shutting out potentially positive changes in our community. This is a great opportunity to work with the city, and for us to be open-minded to a better quality of life. If our community approaches every change with an antagonistic perception, we hurt ourselves by isolating ourselves and putting aside our own interests and needs. In actuality, the International District’s challenges are no different from what many other local neighborhoods experience.
With the community having had time to convey its concerns to the city and consider the proposal, we can continue to be vigilant in understanding the ways our community members might be affected, and we can tend to those issues early on.
Similar fears were brought up when the Light Rail construction through Martin Luther King Way was underway. Community leaders like our Women of Colored Empowered nominee, Julie Pham, demonstrated that we do not have to sit around and allow for these changes to take its course. Pham started the MLK Business Association to help ensure that businesses weather the storm and continue to thrive. Similarly, as concerned neighbors, we can continue to support our local businesses through our purchases, to communicate our needs with the city, and open our minds to changes that can bring more visitors and new residents to the area. (end)