Features

Editor’s Note: A Reinvention

A new city, a new magazine

By Rob Smith October 9, 2022

Seattle Magazine executive editor, Rob Smith

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of Seattle magazine.

As celebrated author Ray Bradbury once said, the future is simply more of the same if all you ever do is look around.

“To hell with more,” Bradbury said. “I want better.”

Don’t we all, in Seattle and, well, everywhere. As the pandemic seemingly eases and mask requirements fade, it’s time for bold risks and bigger thinking. 

Those efforts are already well underway. This issue of “Seattle” magazine — the first in its entirety under new owner and publisher Jonathan Sposato — explores the forward thinking collectively required to create a more just and inclusive region.

As Bradbury suggested, all you need to do is look around. After a prolonged period of self-reflection and a search for meaning, it’s time to rebuild. 

Seattle has triumphed in this regard many times before: The Klondike Gold Rush 120-plus years ago. The birth and ascension of Boeing two decades later. The explosive growth after World War II. The tech revolution led by Microsoft and then Amazon that completely transformed a gritty city into an influential worldwide technology capital.

One theory of urban development suggests that cities reinvent themselves every 25 years or so. Because of its global status and enviable growth prior to the pandemic, Seattle is in a perfect position to take a fresh look at solving the problems that became so raw during the past two years.

Change is already happening. Take Pioneer Square, generally considered the city’s oldest neighborhood. The neighborhood has had its share of challenges for years, even decades, but more than two dozen public and private infrastructure projects were launched prior to the pandemic. One story in this issue features Katherine Anderson, owner of the popular London Plane restaurant, who discusses why she’s remained a staunch advocate of the neighborhood in particular and the city in general.

Another proposes a series of seemingly radical ideas: An end to single-family zoning and downtown parking. A repurposing of an overbuilt office environment as employees increasingly work from home. An acceptance that a mounting problem of homelessness is more about affordable housing than anything else. 

Yet another showcases the humanity of former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best as she transitions from an embattled symbol of discontent to a national spokesperson on police reform. Yet another lays out the challenges faced by new Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, who perhaps has the biggest job of any mayor in recent city history.

Affiliated publication “Seattle Business” magazine, which will again become a standalone publication in the near future, focuses on the growing “blue economy,” or the city’s considerable potential as a global maritime powerhouse. Downtown Seattle Association President and Chief Executive Officer Jon Scholes, proposes a series of actions that will launch the city on a fast-track toward recovery.

This issue also represents a departure from the magazine’s past. A new column from acclaimed University of Washington Professor Pepper Schwartz, called “Heartbeat,” answers reader questions and offers relationship advice during this very strange time. Another, by The Shop owner Matt Bell called “Every Car Has a Story,” deftly reveals the passion of car enthusiasts across the region. Yet another, “Letter From Seattle,” focuses on the small pieces of gratitude that often escape attention but occur every day across this region.

Crossword guru Jeff Chen, who has created more than 100 puzzles for “The New York Times” as well as the “Los Angeles Times” and “The Wall Street Journal,” lends his considerable talent to our new games pages. Matt Berman, who was enlisted by John F. Kennedy Jr. to serve as the creative director of “George” magazine (remember the iconic debut cover of Cindy Crawford dressed as George Washington?) is our creative consultant.

And while the anti-growth philosophy of “Lesser Seattle” is rarely spoken of anymore, we’re not neglecting this city’s storied history. Amateur historian Brad Holden, in his new “Vanishing Act” column, reminds us how we got here by highlighting the colorful characters from Seattle’s past.

There’s only one way to stand still, but lots of ways to move forward. Seattle can, and will, lead the way.

About the Editor's Note Column

Rob Smith is the editor of Seattle magazine and Seattle Business magazine. Following a brief stint in politics after graduating from the University of Oregon, he began freelance writing when a friend landed a job at a small newspaper. A few months later he was offered a full-time position and, as Mark Twain said, "I had no other options," so Rob became a journalist. He likes getting paid to be nosy.

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