At the Idea Incubator Forum in the room next to the panel, there was a safe space for discussion about what we’d heard discussed earlier in the day. Here, discussion ranged in topics from how to share experiences with more privileged people, how to empathize as someone on the side of privilege. These discussions helped enhance personal understanding of the things we’ve talked about. A few key concepts we identified were the irony of Seattle as a bastion of localism, as well as the inherent problems built into neoliberalism when it comes to economic and power structures. We also saw displays made by University of Washington Bothell students on the health effects of gentrification outside of the Seattle area, in places like Redmond and Everett. These exhibits showed that these problems we face aren’t limited but to Seattle, rather they’re all over the Washington area, and the world as a whole.
There’s an energetic buzz during the opening introductions of the conference. At the Claiming Space in the Changing City panel, the audience was introduced to Kibibi Monie, Ixtlixochitl Salinas-Whitehawk, Julie C, and Ana Cano aka Black Mama. In a rapidly changing city like Seattle, this panel gives a space for underrepresented voices to discuss how to ensure their voices are heard, and that they have a say in the way their communities are changing. When wealthy investors are often the driving force behind the ways the city and its communities are changing, these voices are especially important. Something I felt was important was the way these women showed the power of the arts in the process of political commentary, and the way it empowers conmunties to own what is theirs. Ultimately, the culture of this city, and many others, were built on the communities that lived there, and reclaiming these marginalized voices and communities empowers them to fight against being pushed and priced out of their homes.