— Field Notes

My city Seattle began in 1851 with the landing of the Denny Party at what is now called Alki  Point, at the time (1851)dennycabin it was named Prairie Point  (by the Indians in their language sbaqWabaqs).  There was a large population of indigenous people living around Puget Sound,  the Indians of the Seattle area were made up generally of three groups, the Duwamish, the Shilshole  and the Lakes people. The land and water was bountiful and the people here prosperous by their standards till Europeans and Americans from the East arrived and the quick decline started. The worst influence of course was disease. During the 1770s, smallpox (variola major) eradicates at least 30 percent of the native population on the Northwest coast of North America, including numerous members of Puget Sound tribes.

In 1851 the first settlement was begun here in Seattle, by the Denny Party. Arthur  Denny describes the  arrival of the Denny Parties thus in his journal:

Soon after we landed and begun to clearing the ground for our buildings they commenced to congregate, and continued coming until we had  over a thousand in our midst, and most of them remained all winter. Some of them built their houses very near to ours, even on ground we had cleared, and although they seemed very friendly toward us we did not feel safe in objecting to their building near to us for fear of offending them.

– from Arthur Denny Pioneer Days on Puget Sound

The mythic image of the birth of Seattle is a small group of white settlers in a cold foreboding land with a sprinkling of native people here and there. This seems to be wrong, there was a large community of indigenous people in the Puget Sound surrounds.  That would quickly change as more and more settlers arrived. Two worlds were in collision and the indigenous was being replaced by the settlers.

It seems like an important part of our local history is lost and obscured by myths that support the new regime, to understand our community now we need to know what was here before and what we replaced.

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From Where we live Now

The city’s richness cannot be gleaned from any critical distance, but needs a body drawn through it, like some kind of wrecking ball, to crack open it’s meanings. Insight sparks from this collision, or it adheres  to it, like opium scraped from the legs of naked children set running through poppy fields.

- Matthew Stadler

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I have been doing a lot of thinking  about Where We Live Now. The places between city and country, inner cities, suburban landscapes there are many versions of “here”, the classic city of our imagination is really that an imaginary place. No one can close their eyes and visualize their city or town with out seeing the “downtown”, the classic city center around which most cities radiate, but these city centers are just a very small part of the city we live in.

There are numerous ideologies and interest groups vying for  control of the future of where we live now, the developers, the speculators, businesses such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot, ecologists, neighborhood activist, governments. Each of these see where we live now differently, if where we live now is to succeed and to be a viable community we need to synthesize the disparate visions and work together. Community implies cooperation and harmony, finding ways to bring the different visions together is a great challenge, our politicians don’t seem up to the task.  We need new modes, new eyes, and a new appreciation of where we live now. The beauty and aesthetics of the in between places, the awareness of what is close, our neighbors, businesses, families, wild life, all these need consideration.

Planning is necessary,  local government is good at designing building codes, street safety and some transportation planning but where we live now transcends boundaries, the in-between places are seldom planned well and no group or government is taking responsibility for the WHOLE.


 Where We Live Now: an annotated reader edited by Matthew Stadler


(image via: animatedGIF)

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“Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night” by On Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess filtered through the mind of Helge Sten (Deathprod).

60 minute Sound Experiment
Found via: TYPE

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Jay Haze is the DJ Selector for Fabric 47, part of the excellent series from Fabric of London.   Mr. Haze brings on the strong beats liberally spiced with 21st century funk, add some reggae and hard to find tunes by the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, DiY, The Last Poets and you have a dynamite collection to work grove or party to.

Some classify Jay Haze as a Techno House Artist , I think he transcends labels, this is a very strong compilation from the people at Fabric. Hats Off!

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I am a long time user of Last.FM, the music database and social network site. Most people who use the service know they were purchased some time ago by CBS Records, for around a $100 million US Dollars. That didn’t surprise me since Last.FM was successful and major corporations love to buy success. What has surprised me is the story in the news over the last week that Last.FM, via their parent CBS, handed over their users listening habits (i.e. the database of the songs played on their computer) to the RIAA.

The facts in this story are somewhat in dispute, Last.FM pleads innocence, and CBS is stonewalling. There was no court order or legal case that warranted the transfer of data, these are two friendly parties sharing corporate intelligence. TechCrunch claims inside knowledge and was one of the first to break the story; these are some of Michael Arrington’s conclusions:

We believe Last.fm and CBS violated their own privacy policy in the transmission of this data. We also believe CBS and Last.fm may have violated EU privacy laws, including the Data Protection Directive, and should be investigated by the appropriate authorities.
And to the CBS employee who was fired and threatened based on this story – we believe certain U.S. Whistle Blower laws may protect you from retaliation from CBS in this matter. We’d like to provide you with legal counsel at our cost.

There has been a lot of tweeter about how the data is useless to the RIAA; I don’t know about that. What this story has made me think about is the theory of the Panopticon and how the threat of surveillance mediates the surveiled’s actions. If you think someone is watching, you are going to change your behavior. So just having the story circulated in the press is going to impact some Last.FM users behavior, they may be less likely to play music obtained through pirate networks.

Users of Social Networking sites offer them selves up to surveillance, Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM and many more sites are designed to keep track of their users. All that data about our personal lives is accumulating in the data bases of private corporations. Who knows where it will end up and what might be done with it; what can you do about it anyway, not much at this point.

The “Commons” or the places for community use, have been privatized, be it Shopping Malls or Virtual worlds, ala Second Life or social networking sites. Our traditional freedoms don’t apply in privatized spaces. That includes corporate databases like those of CBS Records. It is time to get serious about Privacy in the 21st Century and the laws that may be needed to protect that privacy. Why are no politicians talking about this, maybe because there is a terrorist or a drug dealer under every bed.

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