West Seattle is changing

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

Yes, our community is changing. People ask me what it was like here before Westwood Village sprang up draining the swamp that once produced mosquitoes. And they often wonder if the air would be less polluted if we had not dug up the streetcar tracks and bought buses from Germany, or wherever they came from. Well, I can tell you that the air would have been cleaner.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that high rises without adequate parking spaces bring on increased street parking and increased car traffic. And it doesn’t take much wisdom to realize that the local business owners are now being displaced by corporate sprawl almost blotting out the sun setting behind the tall buildings. Does all this complaining mean that I am not with the times? After all there must be living spaces for all the new workers at Amazon when it moves into Seattle.

Does anyone remember when Penney’s store moved out of West Seattle? Now the opposite is occurring. Dress shops once owner owned and operated have mostly disappeared. Construction has emptied out many shops that once lined the central shopping area. Will these shops return? Luckily Arts West and other local endeavors are still with us. I love local theater and the arts right close to home. And walking along California Avenue near the junction I can visit my favorite thrift shops and frequent little cafes for a meal out.

My own neighborhood has seen many changes with older homes being demolished to make way for huge houses which were possible because of the new zoning ordinances. As I drive through my neighborhood I notice only one vacant lot.

Tearing down a house or remodeling an older home is the only option. Has the economy perked up? Seems as though it has. But people in Seattle are still living on the street as we carry on business as usual. Too bad that we aren’t living in the whale harvesting times of the early Native Americans in the Northwest. Everyone ate in those days without some people being left out in the cold. Granted, the head of the whale hunt got the choice morsels.

One way to keep involved with a ballooning West Seattle is to fill each day with work, communication with others in your circle and participating in your community. When retirement is an option to people in their sixties and lifespan has increased into the late eighties and beyond that means that you will have years after retirement to share your knowledge and skill and expertise. Reaching out to all ages is very important in enriching the human condition. When I attended the Women’s Chorus concert about Rosie the Riveter I was invited up on stage and afterwards many younger people communicated with me. I am now finding replacements for all those old friends who are now gone.

That is why I do public speaking and extend my friendship to all ages. Even though I worry about the violent sport of football and crime in our city I can only do one person’s thing to help society improve but I won’t refuse to do that one thing. Hooray for all of us who are out there doing our one thing to make society better. As I always have said, my extended family springs from a family of world changers. I would have it no other way.

So let’s embrace needed change that improves our way of life and be proactive about eliminating what produces pain and suffering amongst those less fortunate.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at 206-935-8663 or gnkunkel@comcast.net

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