Voices Of The Pacific Northwest: SEATTLE

It’s a place whose name elicits an image and feel — but what are they exactly?

Seattle is a tough city to summarize. The ocean, tech companies, coffee, hipsters, the the homeless: there’s an energy here all its own.

The following sites and Seattleites composed my first exposure to this American metropolis–burgeoning with slices of Americana.

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SEATTLE

First some photos:

Another Seattle staple–a regional staple, actually–homelessness and addiction. But the following Seattleite wasn’t too bummed about his situation.

Let’s now meet those I interviewed.

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Meet Rudolphus.

Chillin’ on a park bench in Seattle, this fella and I first got to talking about the antique, metal structure in the background of his photo.

Not long after, the man shared about his life.

“I’ve been everywhere,” he began.

The career welder was born in Buffalo, New York and then worked from Southern California all the way up to Alaska.

He married a prostitute.

“When she met me, she stopped,” he explained.

But she was unfaithful, which led to domestic abuse.

After walking in on her with another man, he said, “I picked her up and put her in the dumpster.”

Then he said it again after I asked him to clarify what he meant. He meant just what he said.

That one landed him in jail for a few weeks. But 20+ years later, he still stings from the relationship.

“Any man who thinks he can get love for free is stupid. You gotta pay…something,” he concluded.

After the eventual end of his marriage, and now over 60 years old, Rudolphus doesn’t have anymore of his welding money.

“I’m homeless. I stay on the streets,” he stated. Then he pointed to his left. “I gotta tent, right over there a couple of blocks down.”

Nonetheless, Rudolphus was upbeat, saying hello to several pretty women who walked by and even complimenting himself.

“I’m pretty for 62, aren’t I?” he said with a grin.

His was a memorable addition to the #VoicesofthePacificNorthwest. Look for our forthcoming interview on The Periphery YouTube channel.

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Meet Mindy.

I did so by simply asking if she needed a hand with all the bags she carried along the sidewalk. She was fine with the bags, she said, and we continued conversing. Mindy was on her way to display products from her own cosmetics line.

She was inspired to create her own products, she explained, while on a cruise to Antarctica and realizing the harm pollutants can cause.

“My first product was deodorant,” she said.

After coming up with some winning formulas–for deodorant and more–back in her Seattle home, she shared them with family and friends. They loved them. The next step was to sell her products.

“I’m making this for myself anyway,” Mindy recalled. “If I can buy ingredients in bulk, and then sell some of it while I’m at it, that’s great.”

Alma Botanicals was born: http://www.almabotanicals.com/

She made it sound so simple.

But I retorted all the steps in coming up with these products and creating a company.

She addressed each with me as she did each physical and mental hurdle along her way: ordering the ingredients, making her first batches, getting the containers and labels, building a website,  marketing the product, managing her time, supporting herself in the meantime, etc.

Now Mindy’s the founder of a profitable, web-based cosmetics company.

I laid it out there for Mindy: “Most people, including myself, would say, ‘Oh man, L’oreal is already doing this. I can’t compete with them.’ I might talk myself right out of it. But I don’t see you doing that.”

Mindy said friends and family expressed their own concerns, but she saw no downside.

“What’s the worse that could happen?” she asked.

Mindy struck me as being one of those rare people who see possibilities and are excited to see them through, undeterred by the fears that prevent most others from fulfilling their desire.

Hers was an inspirational addition to the #VoicesofthePacificNorthwest, and I look forward to sharing our conversation.

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Meet Sarah. And meet this store where she works.

Rummage Around is just one of many retailers in the same building as Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. Yet the items on these shelves make this store stand out.

How about a 1/2-used bottle of cologne?

Those are popular, said employee Sarah, who summed up her place of work as “The Everything Store.”

Come in and buy old refrigerator magnets, Prussian military action figures, a painting of Jesus with no eyes, or Nazi medallions from WWII. Seriously.

“We recently got 1,200 pounds of toiletries,” said Sarah, which don’t go at all with any of the aforementioned items–which, of course, makes them perfect for this place.

“Do you except donations?” I asked?

“Not usually,” Sarah responded.

“Well, where do you get all this stuff?” I followed up.

“My boss buys foreclosed storage units,” explained Sarah, who loves her job, because it goes along with her other work selling antiques.

Plus, once in a while, some beauties make their way in here.

“I hear it 100 times a day, ‘Oh my God. I haven’t seen that since I was a kid!'” shared Sarah.

Listen to Big Band music play overhead as you search for treasure through the trash (aka another’s treasure).

In a strange way, Rummage Around seems to fit the trendy resourcefulness and the eclectic, “hip to be square” vibe of Seattle. It’s also frequented by the many of the homeless.

“The sleeping bags we get go quickly,” said Sarah, lending hers to the many #VoicesofthePacificNorthwest. Hear Sarah and see the many items on these shelves on the upcoming video of our interview.

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Lastly, Meet Daniel.

Or for Wisconsin Badgers fans, you may know him better as the starting tight end wearing #87.

“I was an All-American in high school,” said Daniel of his days growing up in the Midwest. “I was recruited by everybody.”

He went to play at Wisconsin in 1985, but it was lousy timing.

“In my freshman year, coach Dave McClain died of a heart attack,” explained Daniel.

The team went on to struggle during his time there.

“Did the Gophers beat you guys?” I asked, surprised if Minnesota ever beat Wisconsin.

“They might of,” Daniel said with a grin.

He also suffered a leg injury, which relegated him to trying out for the NFL as an undrafted rookie. He gave it his all at the Miami Dolphins camp, but no dice.

Still, Daniel looks back at his football days fondly.

“We were still losing…but we got treated like royalty,” he said. “You get everything you want, women jump on you, everybody wants to be your friend.”

But like any athlete, Daniel discovered a life after his peak playing days–and this is what eventually brought him to Seattle. He has worked with people suffering from substance abuse, he’s coached high school football, and he managed a homeless shelter.

Ten months ago he came here to work for Working Washington, a nonprofit advocating for the working class in this evermore expensive place to live. Given his professional experience with homelessness, I asked what he thought of the homeless problem here.

“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” Daniel said.  “They’re all over the place, everywhere.”

“What would you recommend to the city?” I asked.

“Well, they have to want to get help,” Daniel said of the homeless.

Thank you, Daniel, for lending yours to that of the many #VoicesofthePacificNorthwest.

And thank you to all those I got to know in Seattle. Next week, I show my visit to another regional highlight: a Progressive college campus and the student and campus employee I conversed with there.

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Videos of my first Pacific Northwest conversations are almost complete. Stay tuned on this website for announcements when they I release them. You can also go to The Periphery YouTube channel and subscribe.  

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What say you?