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A Hate/Love Relationship 

When Spokane disappoints, why stay?

click to enlarge CALEB WALSH
  • Caleb Walsh

The past five years I've functioned as a Spokane consultant for friends, acquaintances and friends of friends, answering questions about how to get a job, how to meet people, how to get involved. The only problem with this role is simple: I'm not qualified, because I hate it here.

click to enlarge weech.jpg

I hate a planning community stuck in the 1960s that thinks suburban sprawl makes sense.

I hate going south of 50th at all. In the 10 years I lived there, acres of prairie and coyotes were almost entirely replaced with more useful things like strip malls, housing developments and Target.

I hate the one fish per year that is safe to eat out of the Spokane River.

I hate a half-empty downtown after 40-plus years of discussing how to fill it. I hate surface parking lots and empty storefronts with equal fervor.

I hate seeing the passionate young people around me leave because they don't think they can feed themselves doing the things that they love here.

I hate that the people trying the hardest to change this list above end up competing with each other for the same dwindling pool of cash.

Most of all, I hate that Spokane has the capacity to change and doesn't. So why stay?

When I think about it, maybe it isn't Spokane I hate, but the way we've fully committed to a set of systems that fail the vast majority of us every single time. I hate that these systems are so slow to change, but so quick with their ability to destroy the things I love. And speaking of the things that I love, Spokane has them as much as any city can.

I love that for the past six years I've lived within a 10-minute walk to places where you can't tell you're in a city at all. I've been able to live in amazing places like that for the price of working part-time. I love that there is a true sense of community and interconnectedness here. We depend upon one another for simple things and hold each other accountable during more complicated challenges. I love that I can name scores of top-level local artists, poets and musicians off the top of my head. I love that we have begun the process of working together to make something new in the vacuum.

Strangers, acquaintances and friends are connecting all over this region to bring their visions to life. Let's all do what we can to make it easy for a vision of real progress that builds our capacity to love and create, rather than simply profit, to bloom. If you represent the old guard, the one that's kept those parking lots and empty storefronts rolling these 40 years, that's kept pollution flowing into the river, that's kept grabbing at every useful thing in sight to destroy it, please step aside. If you are stretching toward the light of all of the great things about Spokane, be bold. We need you. ♦

Taylor Weech, who hosts the weekly public affairs program Praxis on KYRS-FM, is a Spokane writer and activist. She's advocated, among other things, for environmental sustainability and all-ages access to the arts.

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