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From Public Transportation to Pride Parade

On Wednesday I was harshly reminded of Newton’s law of gravity- what goes up, must come down. In my case however it was the reverse: What goes down, must hike back up an incredibly steep hill to return to work.

While taking my lunch break from my community partner site in the financial district of downtown Seattle, I was drawn to the breathtaking view of the Puget Sound. Quickly making my way down the nearly vertical hill and inching closer to the gorgeous view, I was struck by the fact that my lunch hour was wrapping up and that it was probably time to embark on my hike back up to work.

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Having grown up outside of a big city, Philadelphia, I developed quite a love hate relationship with cities that was very heavy handed on the hate. Having a few bad experiences with strangers, crowds, smells, or belligerent phillies fans, I had decided I simply was not meant to be a city person. However, after my 6 day crash course introduction to Seattle, I am beginning to realize that not all cities are bad- in fact, Seattle is wonderful so far! I love the variety that the different neighborhoods offer, as well as the great views that are created from those dreadful hills. It is the kind of city that begs to be explored.

I have noticed a few oddities: The bus system, the lack of public restrooms, and the astronomical sales tax (9.5%). The bus system is strange in that sometimes you pay when you get on, sometimes when you get off, and sometimes you accidentally leave without paying and become a criminal. My roommates and I figured out the payment system on the first day, AND got ourselves an ORCA card (similar to a metro card), so we were pretty proud of ourselves. The lack of public restrooms, however, has annoyed me to no end. Every single bathroom either needs a key, keycode, or must be remotely opened from  the cash register screen. The idea being two-fold: 1) Buy things from us and you can use the restroom or 2) Keep homeless people out of the bathrooms. I get it, but I don’t like it. Lastly, the sales tax: My hometown has a 6% sales tax that is exempt on food, footwear, and clothing, so I was in for a big shock when about 10% got added to every pricetag. I talked to one Seattle local about this and they said due to the frequent nature of natural disasters and low income tax, the 9.5% sales tax was necessary. Again, I understand, but as a visitor for 2 months on a stipend, I was not thrilled.

Now that I got my complaints out of the way, I wanted to discuss one more great activity some Duke Engage interns and I participated in: The LGBT Pride Parade on Sunday. Two interns work for an organization called Washington Bus. They had a prime spot in the parade and asked for a few volunteers. At Duke I am definitely proud to call myself an ally of the LGBT community so I signed up without hesitation. The parade was amazing, and at the same time not at all stereotypical. Of course there were a few drag queens and some practically naked men, but for the most part I just saw tens of thousands of members or allies of the LGBT community watching on the sidelines with the unmistakable look of hope, happiness, and optimism in their eyes. I spent half of the time passing out stickers and cards to people on the sidelines, and the other half assisting in holding up a GIANT Human Rights Campaign flag which is a huge symbol of LGBT equal rights. It was an amazing experience that helped me feel more connected to both the LGBT community as well as the city of Seattle.ImageImage

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This entry was posted on June 30, 2012 by .
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