Ian and I moved a week ago. Moving is not my favorite project. I always start out determined to be organized, but by the end, you find yourself chucking random things into boxes. For instance, found in one box: a half-used bag of pecans, 2 shallots, a small stack of printer paper, a stapler, a loose earring, the blender jar, and a couple seed catalogs.
It would be less trouble to move if the place where you moved was exactly the same: same size, shape, scale. It always seems like one piece of furniture or another inevitably doesn’t work out in the new place and has to go. It’s not that the chair / table / lamp is necessarily faulty, offensive, or outdated. Instead the environment has changed, and so must the items contained in it.
Last week we received the news of Renton Western Wear’s pending closure. It is the most recent in a dramatic sequence of downtown Renton closures. Each time another closure is announced, panic and despair spread swiftly as plague through the surrounding community. Each business owner wonders if they might be next to succumb.
It reminds me of a yoga class I took a few weeks ago. The teacher drew our attention to our breath. “Breathe in. Breathe Out. Your breath is nature’s gift to remind you that everything in this life is temporary. We must let go of the old in order to allow space for the new to come in.”
The face of Renton has changed dramatically in the last decade. No longer predominantly white, Renton is home to people representing a veritable rainbow of ethnicities. Meadows and forests have been replaced with developments. The population has increased, and little wonder! Our location is superb. We have fantastic parks and city amenities. What do we have to be proud of in Renton? Umm, hello. We have the Seahawks.
When some people see empty stores, they see a problem of downtown decline, rumors of crime, or a sludgy economy. Basically, they fear the void, and want to fill it immediately. Rather than resorting to fear, we should be interrogating reality. Ask, “What does it mean that we have seen so many downtown Renton business closures?” It’s important to note that a problem is also an opportunity in disguise. For one company, a vacant building is a vanished dream. For another it is a possibility and hope for the future.
Take a deep breath when you see vacant storefronts. Breathe in and remember the our past: it’s what brought us to this place and made us who we are. Then breathe out, move on, and imagine what the future of Renton could be.
What do you want to see in downtown Renton? What would be useful / beautiful / exciting/ awesome? What would you brag about to your out-of-town friends?