John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Taking Stock”

Event Date: Tuesday, January 26, 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

This time we have no theme, and no guests, except of course, for you. Read on for details.


The Guests (see bios below)

This time, you’re the guests.


The Story

Hi faithful conversation followers,

We’re coming out this month with a late conversation notice, and one of those no-guest, no-theme conversations. Chalk it up to the disruption of the holidays and getting off to a cold start with the new year.

So next week’s conversation will be one of those loose, free-ranging affairs. I can promise you that it will be a smaller group than usual, and there’s a good opportunity to drill into a topic or two.

Here are a few ideas we might cover.

We continue to see a lot of anger around the rapid reconstruction of the city. For people who can’t afford the rising rents or find an affordable house to buy—and that’s a lot of people—the dislocation sucks.

But it shouldn’t be a surprise. Radical dislocation is often the way in which cities change and grow, especially under capitalism. Think of living in Manhattan in the early decades of the 19th century, when the population ballooned from 100,000 to half a million. Or Paris under Napoleon III and Georges-Eugene Haussmann, when whole neighborhoods were torn down in order to create grand boulevards. Or the radical transformations of Shanghai and Beijing since the 1980s.

Or Vancouver in the 1970s, when huge sections of the single-family neighborhoods were bulldozed to create high rises. Or Elliott Bay at the end of the 19th century, when inlets that were rich with clams, eel grass, and salmon became polluted harbors, and fishing villages were swept aside for warehouses and cheap apartments.

But realizing that you’re not alone doesn’t make it easier, especially in a city that claims to know a better way. Beyond the rents and the dislocations of too many people, much of the stuff that is getting built looks like hell, and the question arises: Doesn’t this city have any real design requirements?

In any case, that dislocation, and the need to fight it, work around it, disrupt it, and in some cases embrace it, is what makes life in a city so exciting, and potentially rewarding.

Or much of what we’re looking at these days is the need for racial and economic justice, combined with the deep understanding that the ways of modern life just cannot be sustained. I’ve been worrying an essay for months now about my own racism, sexism, classism, and my own privilege. It’s a tricky thing to write well. And it’s an easy thing to second guess, ad infinitum. How does that self-examination work? How can it work? How should it work? And how can we build something wonderful, a world we can be proud of?

There is so much else to talk about, from space exploration and electoral politics to spiritual awakenings and the ongoing sense of dread. Come join the conversation.



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