Bridging divisions in Everett

Divisions and boundaries on their own aren’t the problem. Boundaries are what determine our neighborhoods, where our children will go to school, what our ZIP code is.

The problem arises when those boundaries — geographical, political, social, economic and cultural — separate, disenfranchise and discourage others from speaking up and participating in the larger community.

Those divisions in Everett and how we might begin to cross boundaries more frequently are being discussed in a two-part forum hosted by the Friends of the Everett Public Library. As part of its “Making Connections” series of forums, the Everett Public Library hosted a discussion Wednesday night at its Evergreen Branch, “North and South Everett: What’s the Difference.” The forum continues at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28, at downtown’s Main Library Auditorium, 2702 Hoyt Ave.

Herald Columnist Julie Muhlstein, in her column Wednesday, talked with the library’s Assistant Director Kate Larsen, about the topic.

“Everybody who lives in Everett, you hear north and south Everett all the time,” Larsen told Muhlstein. “Does that contribute to any division or not?”

Judging from the comments from the 17 Everett residents who attended the first forum — some from the south, some from the north — there are divisions, particularly as they relate to services and the representation of Everett residents.

Some residents in the south end of the city said they rarely ventured north for shopping, seeing little to draw them there. Those who live in south Everett, said one woman, tend to shop there, or head even farther south to Lynnwood.

A few expressed the feeling that the tax dollars that they pay in aren’t always matched fairly with city services. With south Everett generating much of the sales tax revenue, why is it, one man asked only half in jest, that north Everett gets the hanging flower baskets?

The issue goes deeper than flower baskets, of course. For the past 40 years or more, as Everett expanded south, there seems there was little thought given to the amenities that north Everett was provided early on, in particular parks and sidewalks. Opportunities to add them now are either rare or expensive.

One solution discussed, and one that’s been looked at before, would be to elect at least some Everett City Council members by district, rather than at-large. Keeping two or three positions at-large, four to five council members would each have to live in the district he or she represents, with the intention of providing more accountability and better representation of the city’s diverse neighborhoods. Muhlstein’s column Wednesday notes that only three members of the current council live outside of north Everett.

District representation might also encourage more voter participation throughout the city.

It’s not a simple change to make. The city’s charter would have to be amended, a process that would take a public vote authorized by a council resolution or a public initiative.

Another suggestion could be more immediate, asking council members to adopt specific neighborhoods and meet regularly with those residents.

And don’t underestimate the value of the library’s forums, themselves, to bridge divides and encourage discussion.

The fence between neighbors is a boundary, yes, but it also can be a good place to talk.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Pamela Propeck works on an assignment at the Advanced Manufacturing Training & Education Center Wednesday morning at Everett Community College on June 3, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Editorial: Students, economy need boost of free college

EvCC canceled students’ debt, showing what free community college can deliver to students and employers.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Friday, Sept. 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

The 214-foot tall cranes work to unload their first cargo shipments at South Terminal at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 8, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Murphy can bring more transparency to port board

Voters will choose between two strong candidates for Everett’s port board, each with years of service.

A houseboat rests in a cove at Lake Powell Friday, July 30, 2021, near Page, Ariz. This summer, the water levels hit a historic low amid a climate change-fueled megadrought engulfing the U.S. West. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Editorial: Summer of extremes calls for climate change action

The significant investments now considered by Congress are our best chance to limit climate change.

Vector People Map of Washington, US State. Stylized Silhouette, People Crowd in the Shape of a Map of Washington. Washington Population. Illustration Isolated on White Background.
Editorial: Put yourself on the map for your representation

The state’s redistricting commission is drawing lines for legislative and congressional districts.

GOP complaining about prison closures balked at funding

Regarding the article documenting Republican state senators’ concerns about prison closures (“GOP… Continue reading

Should have asked readers about switching out comics

I fully agree with the seeming multitude of readers who object to… Continue reading

‘My body, my choice’ ought to be followed equally

I find it fascinating that the Democrats who proudly proclaim a woman’s… Continue reading

Comment: Negotiating drug prices won’t hurt innovation

That excuse and others allow members of Congress to hide the real reason for their opposition: donations.

Most Read