A small town in eastern Washington was how my father-in-law described his West Seattle neighborhood. Growing up, those small towns in eastern Washington were mine. A city girl now, mostly, I understand the analogy. There’s a lot to love about the city (Picasso! at SAM) and a couple of things to hate. Commuting for one, crowded pasteurized impersonal shopping centers another. Enough said, everyone has their own list.
Small towns are part of all big cities via distinct neighborhoods. NYC, oddly enough, kind of has this down, starting with people having the sense not to drive EVERYWHERE.
Independently owned, small businesses abound, green spaces, beaches (aaah yes, salt air and fog horns), good restaurants, and retail that have genuine sustainable practices at heart. And, like NYC hoods, a good vibe can be found on our main street where things are hoppin’ almost any night of the week – busy restaurants, Art Walk 2nd Thursdays, and live music at Easy Street now and then, including unannounced Pearl Jam performances.
Retail owners become acquaintances just because you show up in their store from time to time, and some are friends that we catch up with like family and depart from with hugs: Lisa and Mary at Capers, Jack at Husky Deli, Stephanie at Small Clothes (recycled clothes for kids), our friends John and Frances at Click!.
I recently paid my respects to Mashiko’s Chef Hajime for his admirable use of only sustainable fish in his sushi restaurant, and he, the hotshot, sometimes irreverent, beloved local chef responded with humility and appreciation. Cameron and Pete have made C & P Coffee a great place to hang out or to have a birthday party, which I did two years ago and it was a blast. The Elliott Bay Brew Pub crew, owner, chef and manager, took time to sit down with me a couple of years ago and describe their version of running a sustainable restaurant. People trek across the city – which, considering Seattle traffic, is a serious compliment – to buy baguettes and pastries at Bakery Nouveau. Fresh Bistro is all about local/seasonal food and owner, BJ, is a generous participant in the community. The West Seattle Blog, our virtual command center, has become an amazing catalyst for galvanizing and unifying our neighborhood. Salons like Ola’ and Illusions galvanize our hair, spas too. We look fabulous!
Neighborhood shopping sprees, or just a walk on by and hello, such places brighten a day. And there are so many more . . . everyone has their own who’s who or best of list.
Neighborhood small businesses, parks, sidewalks, we love you. We appreciate the convenience of your location, that you recognize us when we stop by, that you’re there through hard times, that your presence allows us to stay close to home more of the time, reducing our hair-pulling-blood-boiling commuter frustration. We need that hair.
Shop and live locally, our battle cry! Consume less, waste less, drive less, walk more, find out what’s happening closer to home. Reduce commutes. Bump into a neighbor, a new acquaintance, have a small town moment.
Did I mention our beaches?
So where’s your small town?