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Seattle neighborhoods definitely have their own personalities. If you’re someone who travels the city, you know that some areas are known for their parks, and others for their commercial development, single family homes here, apartment complexes and condos there. You’ll find gated communities where the 1% hold secret society gatherings, and neighborhood block parties where generations of families celebrate in the streets. At times, Seattle seems like the most welcoming of places, at others, on the edge of exploding. Seattle needs something that can bring us together as ONE Seattle.

We use to have something like that, and it was called the Seattle Center Fun Forest. From 1962-2011 the park welcomed Seattle in its entirety. Although the games and rides required a ticket purchase, you could stroll the grounds and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere at no charge. No matter what part of Seattle you lived, what you looked like, or how much change was in your pocket, you loved a summer day at the Fun Forest.

Sadly, in 2011 the Seattle City Council cancelled the Fun Forest contract over a measly $763,890 in back rent; despite an offer from Disney a decade earlier to invest $70 million into the park, the City Council had “better plans” for the property. The Council moved out the rides and left Seattle with a concrete desert, where the few people who still visit can almost hear the ghosts of past visitors crying out. Our city leaders don’t seem to understand the value of a Fun Forest, a Basketball Team, or a Vibrant entertainment magazine. But when it comes to bringing people together, we need these types of shared resources; iconic people, places, and things who only exist to bring us together.

I hope that in my lifetime I see a return of the Fun Forest to Seattle. Looking around our town, we need it now more than ever.

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