It’s been coming up a lot lately. In the news and media.
People aren’t happy about it.
Mostly the people that aren’t associated with the major tech companies coming into Seattle, who are taking over a significant amount of commercial real estate and creating a rising housing market to service the mass numbers of tech workers moving in.
The demand for housing of any kind in Seattle has gone up and so has the rent.
It is largely attributed to Amazon.
They originate from the Seattle area and they employ roughly 1% of the metro area population that stretches from Everett to Tacoma.
Then there’s other companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, among others that are continuously moving in. Here’s a current list of more than 50 companies with satellite offices in Washington.
Seattle is becoming very similar to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. There’s plenty from the Bay area searching for real estate.
And the one’s who aren’t tied into any of this? Aren’t fond of the change.
A big transformation is happening all over the city, newer, bigger businesses are opening up, overtaking some of the longer standing, smaller businesses.
Older or long time residents are being pushed out because the rent is skyrocketing and it’s a pain to keep up with.
Areas like South Lake Union and Belltown are slim pickings for parking and it’s tough to commute to without being stuck in a traffic jam to and from there. Having a parking spot at an apartment in that area could cost up to $200 a month.
Other options for transportation is limited to the bus (which will likely double your commute time as opposed to a car) or a light rail that currently only runs through the bottom half of the city (though they are in the works for creating additions to the light rail in North Seattle).
Local area rapper Raz Simone has no problem voicing his own feelings towards the gentrification of Seattle and the local rap scene. He speaks a lot of truth in this interview that I would recommend giving a listen.
It’s obvious, that Amazon is a big contributor of gentrifying Seattle.
I do a lot of work for Amazon.
I’m not an employee for the company, I work there as a freelancer (an independent contractor).
Nonetheless I am a part of the Amazon pie, I contribute to the company, and spend quite a bit of my time there. But I also work in a sector of Amazon that isn’t as well known or spoken of in the news or media. There’s people at the Amazon headquarters that hardly know the building I work in even exists.
I am a freelance photographer that works in one of their photo studios. They have a handful of locations all over the U.S. and worldwide. I shoot a broad range of products that go directly onsite for sale. I work with an ever growing group of people that are also building their careers in the photo industry.
It was one of the first times in my life where I worked amongst such a like-minded team. I found it to be motivating and mind altering. Maybe that’s just me though, I spent most of my years before that in various retail, fast food or other customer service related jobs supplementing my gaining experience in commercial photography. So the like-mindedness was minimal or scattered.
So for me, my Amazon experience is slightly different from most.
No, I don’t get the benefits or job security of being an employee but I actually prefer being a contractor. I get the different benefits of being able to do freelance work for any other business or person I choose. The leadership and management of the team I am a part of encourage you to do pursue other jobs, work on personal projects and continue portfolio building, as well as maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
This has also enabled me (okay, slightly forced me) to thoroughly learn how to run a proper business. Which at first I resisted because like many artists of any medium, anything business or marketing related just seemed daunting or like some corporate elitist crap.
Then I actually spent a chunk of time on my own learning about it. And I ended up loving it. All of it.
Yeah, that’s right. I LOVE marketing. And business. And entrepreneurship. And copywriting.
At least when it’s done right (authentically, meaningfully, and from a place of service).
I can confidently say that working there has changed me. For the better. It’s given me the opportunity to build up to a life worth living and expand out to aspiring for even more growth. It has helped me grow not only as a worker but as a person. I truly enjoy where my life is right now and that’s not something that I would’ve thought fathomable 5-6 years ago in the depths of a massive recession. When finding a mere part time job was excruciatingly difficult and I was broke, in massive debt, and living at home with Mom.
So it’s strange to be in a place in the middle of all this.
In the midst of change and transformation to an amazing city, I feel conflicted. I kind of fall on both sides of it.
I don’t want Seattle to lose it’s soul and original elements that made it what it is.
I also don’t want so much animosity towards a company that has contributed to my life in a positive way.
It’s clear that resisting the change isn’t going to make it stop or go away. It’s already happening. It's also not something new. There were similar hiring bursts for Microsoft in the 90's and the locals back then were also resistant.
We need to find some way to come together, sustain the culture, and grow the local economy in a way that benefits people of all levels of income and walks of life. We should aspire to be better than San Francisco or New York, not like it.
I’m not sure what that means exactly but I’m working on it. You should too.
This one was a bit lengthier than anticipated. Thanks for sticking around till the end if you did.