Saturday, August 11, 2012

Taking to the Streets

Last night I went to a park that only a few years ago wasn't a spot where anybody lingered unless you needed a spot to sleep in or you were selling drugs. Now it's a gathering place for a vibrant and diverse community--gorgeous men playing basketball (my personal favorite), children and their parents, couples relaxing together on the grass, groups having picnics, and in the evening an outdoor movie being played on the wall of what looked like a large utility shed.

One of the assets that makes this spot a focal point is food--there's a huge amount of reasonably food encircling the park and a weekend hotdog cart inside. And I began to wonder how we could reclaim the streets of downtown Seattle as a place everybody would want to be in the same way people gather in this park.

I thought of cities where the streets are magnets for everyone and I immediately remembered their food carts. If we allowed reasonably priced, fresh, good food to line our sidewalks, people would come to eat. With enough people filling a block, it would no longer be an attractive spot for a drug market.

With a few exceptions, Seattle's streets in the downtown core are empty, except for bus stops and entrepreneurs of the worst kind. I see this from my apartment window all the time and think longingly of how a dozen food carts could change that in a week.

Our country is absurd--we regulate the things that could make life more pleasant and fail to provide solutions for that which makes life untenable. Loosen the restrictions on food carts and watch incarceration rates drop? Naive? Irresponsible? I don't know about you, but I'd risk a case of food poisoning once in a while if I could enjoy walking in the area around Third and Pine--or down Third at all, for that matter.


Wirbling Nomad said...
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Wirbling Nomad said...

If Seattle (or anywhere in the US, for that matter) had a Sukhumvit Soi 38, I'd really have no reason to live elsewhere. It amazes me how easy it is to get processed (and subsidized) foods at an American supermarket, which are contributing to the plethora of health epidemics affecting this nation. But if you want to get delicious, healthy, quality, food prepared on the spot in some random alley of an American city, good luck. On Soi 38, not only can you get a decent som tum, larb moo, bowl of congee, and mango with sticky rice and coconut milk for less than $10, there's also the added benefit of minimizing the chance of a heart attack so often associated with "cheap" meals in the US.

janet brown said...

Soi 38 is convenient and fabulous but you can find the same thing all over the streets of Bangkok. And that keeps the streets of that city alive. Portland, Oregon is reputed to have a Soi 38 equivalent with carts but I will bet the food is pricey. In the US if you can afford it, there's good food. If you're poor, happy clogged arteries.