The ‘Authentic’ Creative City: Seattle
One word that that tends to rise to the surface in conversation about Seattle is “authenticity.” In exploring the city’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, The Drum’s documentary in its Creative Cities Seattle feature, in partnership with Visit Seattle, found that authenticity isn’t just a buzzword in the Emerald City, but a genuine way of life.
“We tend to be a little bit more authentic because we want to be our own selves,” says Kevin Wick, executive creative director at Smashing Ideas. “We want to do things that we’re really interested in.”
Indeed, those we encountered during our journey in Seattle point to its unique individuality that builds a collective spirit and forges the city's way of life. Even large, global companies like Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft and Boeing have come from a foundation that is representative and respectful of doing things differently.
“Seattle has its own style, especially when it comes to the technology community,” says John Cook, co-founder of GeekWire. “[It’s] really proud of that history and the types of organizations that have grown up here.”
Adds Danielle Hawley, chief creative officer, Americas at Possible: “Everywhere you look, people have disrupted the status quo, [like] Howard Schultz, Bill Gates [and] Jeff Bezos."
That authenticity is manifested in the influence Seattle has imparted to the rest of the world. Whether through music, the arts, philanthropy, medical research, the progressive nature of the area is infectious and points to its desire to make a continual contribution well outside its borders.
“The shining leader of the world is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” notes Bob Donegan, president of Ivar’s, an iconic Seattle seafood restaurant brand.
“Seattle is the place where science and art come together to create a very unique environment,” adds music artist Aryon Jones. “[It’s] a very unique culture, not just for the Puget Sound or this region, but the world.”
In a region known for a laid back vibe, Kathleen Hall, corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research at Microsoft, believes that the mix of the city's sensibility and its major influence on the global stage is interesting.
“I think there's this weird combination of sort of casual intensity where the lifestyle and the dress and the appearance of everything is very casual and laid back,” she says. “But the scope and scale and intensity and impact of the work is still really big.”
The city is on the precipice of becoming one of the world’s most fascinating global cities, and its dedication to its ethos, combined with one of the most beautiful settings and its progressiveness, is a magnet for talent that values a different way of life and the collective spirit that Seattle is known for.
“We have this rich talent pool,” says Sarah Gavin, vice president of global communications at Expedia. “While we may compete for talent between the companies, everybody in Seattle recognizes that when one company wins, we all win.”
Britt Fero, principal at creative agency PB& adds: “I think Seattle's progressiveness attracts great talent because it is a city for people who want to play by different rules. I always tell people that we're recruiting here that this is a place you can come and make history.”
“If you look at a Boeing Aircraft, the thousands of planes in the air, Starbucks around the world, Windows through Microsoft everywhere, or Amazon, you name it, you keep going, every day around the world in every country there's a little piece of Seattle, says Tom Norwalk, president and chief executive officer of Visit Seattle.