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"Tony Robinson is one of the most active church leaders in the United States, greatly in demand as he teaches congregations and denominations about church life. His work has a deep theological underpinning, which many congregational-development gurus don't have."

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author of The Gospel and the New York Times and And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament

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A Tale of Two Cities

As you, dear readers know, Linda and I recently moved. What we didnít know is that though we were staying in Seattle, we were moving to a different city.

For twenty-five years we lived in southeast Seattle, in a neighborhood near Columbia City. Now we live in northwest Seattle, west of Ballard on Shilshole Bay. Itís the same city, only it isnít.

Seattle is bounded by water, Lake Washington to the east and the Puget Sound to the west. In our former home we were several blocks off Lake Washington. Now we look out on the Sound. Itís a world of difference.

The Sound is an ocean atmosphere, with tides, waves, currents, boat traffic and commerce related to the sea. The Lake, which did have white-caps on stormy days, seems more residential -- park-like -- by comparison. It is a winding way for runners, cycling, walking, sculling as well as the seasonal hydroplane races of Seafair.

Lake Washington is fresh water, swimable in the summer. The Puget Sound is salt water, and stays icey cold year-round. This geographic difference shapes different culture.

Ballard is famously Scandinavian, home of Norweigens, Swedes, Finns and sons of Iceland. Southeast Seattle has long been a landing place for a varied mix of the cityís most recent immigrants. In the 2010 census our southeast Seattle zip code, 98118, was identified as ďAmericaís most diverse.Ē

While African Americanís make up 2% of the Ballard population, that number is 26% in southeast Seattle. Caucasians are 87% of the population in Ballard, just 27% in the 98118 zip code.

Yet there are some commonalities between the two neighborhoods. Both were founded in the late 19th century as independent towns. Each was annexed to Seattle in the early 20th century. More interesting, both were defined in those early years by lumber. Ballard was the nationís leading shingle producer with ten mills on the waterfront. Columbia City was a milltown for the lumber industry that harvested the forests of southeast Seattle and Renton. Lumber was shipped from Columbia City to Seattle by rail.

From my point of view the biggest differences, here in northwest Seattle are being on the Sound and a more predominately Caucasian population. Scandanavian heritage lives on. May 17 will be Ballardís Norweigen Day Parade, which I understand is a very big deal.


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