Message Matters: What Do You Do?

It happens to everyone when you’re out and about, the question, “What do you do?” It is true for organizations too. The answer is important and has to be succinct; people don’t want a paragraph but a sentence, even two words. I am always refining how I explain our work and what we do. Over the last several years of being the director of Smart Growth Seattle and now Seattle For Growth, I’ve gotten the answer down to two words: more housing! This answer is rooted in the basic economic principle that when make make something scarce, it’s price goes up. The price of housing has become the red herring offered to stop growth, to tax it, or to distort in ways that benefit various interests. 

It doesn’t hurt to repeat these things. It takes practice. What do you do? How do you do it? What does it sound like? Here’s my latest one pager. 

Our Challenge

  • City Hall isn’t listening to housing professionals who build and operate housing using invested and borrowed capital;
  • They are listening to non-profit developers and some people in the community who are afraid of growth and change;
  • The people they’re listening to don’t believe building more housing will lower prices which leads to bad public policy that makes prices worse and consumes public resources inefficiently; and
  • We need to understand why and explore ways to persuade them that more housing is the solution, not the problem.

What We Do

Seattle For Growth advocates for building more housing of all types, in all neighborhoods, for all levels of income to create housing opportunity for everyone in Seattle.

How Do We Know We’ve Succeeded?

Seattle has a culture that sees new housing, people, and economic growth not as an impact that needs to be offset, but as an opportunity for people who live here and want to live here.

How Do We Get There?

Advocate, research, an communicate for more housing

  • Typology – Shelter to Investment. We advocate for improving housing opportunity ranging from better shelter options through rental and ownership to opportunities for investment in the real estate market
  • Location – Housing everywhere. There should be no part of our city or community where healthy and viable housing opportunities should be limited or restricted.
  • Use – Zero zoning, more mixing. Zoning, the segregation of uses of land, is a 20th century solution to a 19th century problem. We don’t need zoning, but a code and rules that efficiently and appropriately blend many uses together including retail, housing, and even some forms of manufacturing.

How Does it Sound?

“Imagine a smaller, live-work home, near transit, that is less expensive in a densely populated, walkable neighborhood.”

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