John Boylan’s Conversation: “Taking Stock, Part III…”

Event Date: Tuesday, March 17, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

To link to this announcement, do so at

The Summary

Here’s an opportunity to take stock of our lives, our city, our culture, our world.

Read on for the details.

The Guests

You’re the guests on this one.

The Story

Every so often this series likes to slow down and take stock of where we stand, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. There are no guests, except of course for you. These are often smaller, more intimate conversations.

We are living in fascinating, difficult, yet rewarding times. A deep sense of possibility is everywhere, so thick and heavy that we can almost feel it, yet so elusive as to suggest that maybe that sense of possibility is a mirage, a mischievous illusion.

We live in a contradiction: we’re a city of immense talent and energy that at the same time is surrounded by cultural forces that at best may be moribund, at worst in a death spiral.

Seattle is at the beginning of a potential revolution in the way we do politics, with the move to district elections. A number of fascinating people are running, many of whom might have hesitated to get into a city-wide election. And whoever is elected, the city’s power dynamics are bound to change. What will that bring us? Will it allow us to grow in that role that we’ve long envisioned for ourselves but never quite attained, as a center for experiment with solutions that can be reproduced elsewhere?

We have a huge number of people doing really cool things in this town. On any given night, I am amazed at the amount and quality of the performances happening, from big, high-energy extravaganzas to some of the best musicians I’ve ever heard performing at cafes and hotel lobbies. It’s way more than one’s calendar or wallet can permit. Is this the pinnacle for a regional capital, or just a beginning?

But I think there’s a sense that culturally we’re stuck in old models, with institutions, old festivals, parades, and public events that long since began to show their age, and maybe their irrelevance to Seattle now. How do they change and grow, and what can be made new that is exciting, that is alive?

There’s a growing realization that for the world’s biosphere to survive in any way that makes sense for a huge number of species, including humans, we will need to change the way we structure and build our lived experiences. Not to mention what we do about structural inequality and the heavy concentrations of political and economic power that we’re facing now. What is Seattle’s—and specifically our—role in all of that?

A lot of questions. Where do we stand? And where are we going? Come and have a conversation.

Boylan Update Many of you know that I’ve been doing contract work since I left Microsoft last year. Currently, I’m about to embark on some work around art and technology for Microsoft Research. I’m available for other work, involving writing, project management, organizational planning, meeting facilitation, and content management. Contact me at this email address, or 206-601-9848.

My Links

Essays and Comment


JBoylan Projects


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