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Next 50 Closing Day Message

From Mike McGinn, Mayor, City of Seattle:

It doesn’t seem that long ago when we were here for the kickoff event for the Next 50 celebration, back in April. I was introduced by John Keister of Almost Live! fame. He was reminding us of the vision that people had back in 1962 – jetpacks, flying cars, a monorail.

We’ve all enjoyed poking fun at their vision of the future. They did their best, but as Yogi Berra said, “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Still, we have to admire their civic spirit and brash entrepreneurialism.  From conception to construction, the Space Needle took a year. They launched science, arts and culture institutions that endure today. And they celebrated a spirit of innovation and creativity.

But our challenges have changed a little. They imagined a future of limitless energy and ever expanding resources. We’re now figuring out how to solve our problems with less energy and the resources we have. That means we have to work harder at listening, partnering, innovating, and creating opportunity out of adversity.

They had an ambition to take this little city in a rain-soaked corner of the country and put it on the map and be known as the city of the future.

And you know what? They succeeded. That’s what we’ve been celebrating all year long – the legacy they left for us. I visited China on a trade mission earlier this year. They knew about Microsoft and Starbucks. They know we are green, and they were learning from our green building experts.

We have built a reputation that this is a place where you can build a life. And we believe that, no matter your background or circumstances, you will be treated with dignity and respect – and be given the opportunity to reach your potential.

Their success is evident in the fact that we attract people from all over the world. Some by choice, but others are fleeing hardship in their native lands. We’re not quite the city of the future that they imagined in 1962, but we have built a reputation as the city of the future.

And we have that reputation because the people of Seattle built that reputation. You built it by caring about each other. You built it by caring about the place we live. You built it by being innovative and creative. You built it by taking risks. You built it by embracing the future – and by embracing the potential in each one of us.

Now sometimes people suggest we’re too idealistic, or not pragmatic enough. There are people who suggest we can’t afford to care about those most in need. There are people who suggest that we’re too green and make fun of our chickens or our vegetables in the planting strip. But come on, admit it, we’re all a little bit proud of that.

Let the cynics and naysayers have their turn. We know better. Caring about each other, caring about the environment, caring about the place we live, those things don’t make us weaker, they makes us stronger.

And yes, we face challenges. And yes, we have differences. We have a lot to work on. But I am so proud to be mayor of a city with people like you.  When we work together, when we listen to each other, partner with each other, and use what we have right here, we can meet those challenges. That’s how we build a city.

Hundreds of volunteers from all parts of our community helped with the 50th anniversary celebration, organizing events, serving on planning committees and working on the grounds. I applaud their efforts and accomplishments.

Those partnerships proved critical to the success of The Next Fifty – and they represent the way in which the world must work in the future if we are to continue to enjoy what we value today. I look forward to working with you so that Seattle will be the city of the future for a long time to come. Thank you.