Falkenbury's Vision for Seattle's Future

In the 1970's, the American automobile manufacturing world began to fall apart in the face of competition with other car manufacturers outside of this country. Eventually, the American car makers regained their footing, but their world was altered irretrievably.

Detroit hoped that the automobile industry would return to its post war vigor. In the last thirty years, that city has shrunk from two million people to one million and continues today as the poster child for the decline of the rust belt cities.

Seattle is in little danger of becoming Detroit. But the future does not look as bright as it did five years ago.

The Boeing Company should build the 7E7 here in this area. But even if we secure this program, we will probably never return to the days when aerospace employment topped 70,000. We must be prepared for a lesser Boeing presence.

We must not go into this future in weakness as supplicants seeking charity, but as a strong and capable region and city offering great things to a great people. Some of us see the future in the biomed arena and that is all good. But to count on one area to drive the city's economy is wrong--and historically incorrect. It is as wrong to place all of our eggs in the basket of biomed as it was to give those eggs to the safekeeping of Boeing in years gone by. I welcome the world of biomed industry with the caveat that it should not be necessary to give up everything in the name of industry promotion. We must only offer them what is fair and nothing more.

I propose that Seattle take on a new 'industry' that is entirely in keeping with both its strengths and concerns. I believe that Seattle should create an entire economy devoted to the notion of reversing the environmental damage that the automobile and other industrial age practices have brought about. Seattle should begin to show the entire world how to reverse the environmental damage caused by the industrial age.

We could begin by redesigning our land, our buildings and even our lifestyles that are now dictated by the automobile. The city could rethink and rebuild public transit. We could tear up and replace streets with paths, walkways and other methods of travel less harmful to the environment. We could seek a better way to move goods and people. We could champion better vehicles--not just better cars, but Segways, scooters and great bikes. We could redesign and rebuild our neighborhoods away from cars and toward people.

We could re-examine our electric consumption and production. We could lead the way in breakthroughs in solar power. We could work at making recycling truly work and not just make us feel better. Seattle could be a leader in water conservation, water preservation and sewage treatment. We could--we should--reapproach every aspect of our industrial and public life with an eye toward preserving our environment and our very lives.

As to how this becomes 'an economy' in the sense of 'making money off of it', frankly, I do not know. But it is always that way: when William Boeing climbed into the open cockpit of his first plane, I doubt that he envisioned the 747. I would say to you that something will undoubtedly develop and, more importantly, it is the right thing to do.

-- Dick Falkenbury

You can contact Dick at [email protected]

Dick Falkenbury for Seattle | 2518 South Brandon Court, Seattle, Washington 98108