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C200: Drop By Drop

2011 March 18
by Mary Johnston

Over 300 reviews of more than 200 individual projects, plans and policies that affect the public realm. About 1200 hours of listening, writing, talking and looking. Four and a half years of paying attention to the things big and small that shape the city of Seattle. Moments of utter frustration and downright anger at the missed opportunities and isolated decision-making. Moments of deep satisfaction at a vision realized, inertia thwarted, mission accomplished. In between the projects of a generation-a waterfront, a vast transit system- the small nodes and moments stand out: a storm water project that gives a park to a neighborhood, thus doubling the benefit of an investment; a new urban trail; some public breathing space. The best ones have shepherds who do not see how little they can get away with, but how good can they can make a project. The best ones usually have something to do with water; how to control it, how to touch it, how to learn from it, how to see it in a different way.

I’ve learned a lot in 4 years. I’ll miss it. Sort of.


Mary Johnston is an architect and has served on the Seattle Design Commission for 4 1/2 years, as Chair for 2 1/2 years.