A solstice festival highlightings the citys history of embracing the weird as Amazon gas a changing landscape
Covered in swirled pink paint and clad only in an emerald green thong, Shannon Kringen blended into an essential Seattle summertime scene, becoming a nude in a sea of bicycling nudes.
The thousands of naked cyclists gliding through the city’s Fremont neighborhood for the annual Fremont Solstice Festival are of Old Seattle, an aloof, weird place with space for dreamers and their work. Back in 1986, when she was 17 and newly arrived in the city, Kringen was able to induce rent serving pizza before becoming a nude model. She hosted an arrest public access television prove,” Goddess Kring“, in the 1990 s. She danced, talked and sang- often naked.
New Seattle, though, has little space for someone like Kringen, who now needs a housing voucher to afford an apartment. Housing costs have ballooned as tech-sector firms pack workers into downtown and central neighborhoods, like the historically hippy Fremont.
” It seems like it’s gotten a little snooty ,” Kringen said.” Like,’ We are suuuuuper fancy, like the new San Francisco .'”
The irony is that Seattle’s tech industry, which relies on a furnish of dynamic, inventive people, also relies, in part, on its hip counterculture.
Seattle’s grunge scene helped depict the first rush of tech entrepreneurs inside the city limits in the 1990 s. But a 2017 city analysis observed Seattle’s explosive, tech-driven growth threatening to displace the” communities that have added cultural richness to the city “.
To combat that, a proposal to build a city-certified “brain trust” of culturally significant someones- realtors, urban activists and artists among other issues– has been floated, as have changes to city code meant to foster creative spaces. Whatever their merits, those efforts don’t amount to much in America’s fastest-growing major city.
The changes have come fast even for boom-bust Seattle. The 30 ft hill where Kringen took a seat with other festival-goers- Gas Works Park’s Great Mound- is itself a relic, a sodded-over cone of violated buildings from an early 20 th-century coal gasification plant. Beyond the reclaimed park sits Lake Union, a heart-shaped lake contaminated by long-dead industries. Boeing 737 s, once the city’s defining exportation, plow across a blue sky.