How do you know you’re a real Seattle resident?
Responses to a story last week about what it takes to be considered local in Seattle or the PNW tend to hinge on how long the people giving the answers have lived here.
Are you local when you think you are, or do you need an actual birth certificate showing you were born here, as a long-time resident suggested? Or is it when you found peace kayaking or hiking in the rain?
But residents, old and new, agreed on the characteristics that define the northwest: our love of casual, outdoor clothing in all settings, our acceptance of rain and our penchant for getting outside, whatever whatever the weather.
In the comments section of last week’s story, user “youcannotbedogstar” said PNW’s genuine status is based on values: “Seattle man never honks his horn in anger, always crosses the street at around the corner and is always polite. This “freezing” thing is a misunderstanding: the people of Seattle won’t give you a fake friend. 45 for lunch Tuesday noon”, then will show up.”
Meanwhile, “user158775420314” commented that “The freeze and blank stare, almost unfriendly, with no smile or hello is just the PNW form of hazing for newcomers. The best part is that after about five minutes of face-to-face interaction, even the most socially inept PNWers can’t keep up and start chatting. It’s weird, but kind of endearing, once you get used to it, after, say, 30 years approximately.
A person with the username ‘Baranof’ responded to the comments to ask, ‘Without searching Google, can you name 5 volcanoes, 5 native tribes, five species of salmon, five ferry routes, five native plants? How about 5 big (non-tech) companies that are based here? That would be a start.”
Many readers also expressed their thoughts in the comments on the Facebook post sharing the article.
“I’ve only been here a few years, but I immediately felt more at home and happier than anywhere else I’ve lived,” said Kim Kirchstein.
“Riding a bike before the Fremont Solstice Parade makes you a true Seattle-dweller,” Mackenzie McAninch said.
And Price Hall commented that “Being local in Seattle means living here long enough to be overpriced.”
B. Neil Larsen, a registered investment adviser, was among many readers who shared his thoughts in an email after our original story about what it means to be a Seattle local. Larsen grew up in Burien and now lives in Kent. He says there’s a tough but simple answer: “To be a native – your birth certificate says you were born in Seattle…if you don’t have that, you’re a transplant at best.”
And he’s grumpy about it, he said, because standards have to be met. Look how things are falling apart in Seattle, he said.
“A Seattle native right now is damn grumpy about Seattle. What happened to Seattle? He went straight to the toilet.
Larsen believes that while transplants cannot become indigenous, they can become local.
The criteria, for him, are 10 years of residence and the correct pronunciations of Puyallup (pyou-allop), Sequim (skwim) and Des Moines (duh-moyn).
“And they also need to know where the San Juan Islands are.”
Larsen doesn’t blame newcomers for Seattle woes, but many old vocals do:
“Raised here, transplants changed the culture of Seattle and it will never be the same,” Joe Steezlow wrote in a Facebook comment. “The old Seattle was where I never wanted to go and raise a family. The new Seattle is where true Seattle natives want to escape. Thanks to all the tech companies and gentrification. I should have kept the big tech on the east side where it belongs.
Lauren Marshall, an Oregon native who has lived in Seattle for 35 years, urges recent transplants not to take anything personally. It’s been like that for a long time, she said.
In the musical Boy, there’s a slug in my latte – an annual summer fixture at Seattle’s Cabaret de Paris between 1990 and 1995 – Marshall and co-creator Todd Moeller poked fun at Seattle residents’ tolerance of drizzle, preference for Gore-Tex compared to umbrellas and gel.
“Who’s from Seattle?” she wrote in the 32-year-old song “True Native Test.”
“We got our ways of knowing if you ain’t from here / We got real good at it since we moved here last year,” the song goes.
Other songs from the musical gently poke fun at Seattle residents’ sufficiency of being socially and environmentally conscious, the stress a couch potato feels under relentless pressure to hike and ski, and our state of mind to close the door behind me.
“It comes from a feeling of love and pride for Seattle,” she said in an interview this week. “It’s as if we had found Eden, heaven on earth. It’s beautiful and we don’t want anyone else to mess it up.