Finding Sanctuary in our City

How Living in Seattle's Sea of Blue Feels a Little Like Bubble Wrap


Regardless of where you stand politically, I think we can all agree that we’re about to witness one of the most seismic transitions of power in modern times when a new president is ushered in on the 21st of this month. 

The big blue bubble in our corner of the Pacific Northwest was never more evident—and fragile—than with this presidential election. Now, weeks later, I know our city is still reeling and trying to make sense of how it all could have happened. For the most part, we live in a liberal city, and you can safely share your November 8 shock with your banker and bartender alike, knowing they, too, have felt a punch to the gut. And even if you do encounter the elusive Republican, the ensuing discussion is usually very “Seattle” and polite.

The November 19 episode of Saturday Night Live pretty much nailed the current zeitgeist of our city with its “Welcome to the Bubble” skit, about a community where liberals could “live in denial that the rest of the country thinks differently from them.” The skit was a poke at politically correct Brooklyn, but could just as well been describing Seattle. “Welcome to the bubble…a planned community of like-minded thinkers—and no one else,” the actor in the skit beckoned. “In here, it’s like the election never happened…with things that everybody loves, like hybrid cars, used-bookstores and small farms with the rawest milk you ever tasted.” 

Indeed, we are figuratively—and to some extent, literally—one of the farthest points that one can be from much of the continental United States. But you don’t realize it until you’ve lived here for a while, because—as the birthplace of innovative places like Microsoft and Amazon—Seattle is one of those cities that just feels like the center of everything.

But many of us live here because we like being on the fringe. We like our idealism and political correctness (most of the time). I’m guessing that others will, too. People have joked about moving to Canada, but I predict we’ll see an even bigger spike in our already booming population growth in the coming months as like-minded Rust Belters flee to our city, repeating history to take a lap on the “Go West” tour. 

Mayor Ed Murray was first to the microphone the day after the election, reminding the world of our city’s inclusive values, declaring that, even at the risk of losing federal funding, Seattle will remain a sanctuary city “guided by the values of equality, inclusion and openness. We will continue to support women, we will welcome as neighbors our Muslim brothers and sisters, and tomorrow black lives will still matter.” 

 It was a message that resonates with citizens who feel out of step with the values in other parts of the country, and one that is inclusive of all lifestyles, whether it’s gender identification, sexual preference or yes, even being a Republican.

Our job at Seattle magazine is to help people live better in their city, to celebrate everything that makes this place we call home special—but also to be part of the conversation about the holes in our bubble, and help locals navigate them (see the words of wisdom of our resident sage, Knute Berger, on page 44). 

But in case you still need a serious jump-start to elevate your mood, our story this month on how to get the most out of the winter months here in the Northwest unintentionally serves more than one purpose: to jolt us from the perpetual gray days, to lift our spirits and to refresh our innovative brand of thinking. And, when all else fails, Canada really is only two hours away.