Questioning in the pursuit of understanding and progress must be valued. Otherwise, we lose the accountability of ideas and the innovation that moves our communities forward.
I was reminded of this just recently when I met with a friend and mentor from our community. She’s a neighborhood activist who has worked on various issues that have shaped Capitol Hill for the last few decades.
There came a moment when I recognized that we both had questions of the others’ ideas and intentions. Unchecked, our conversation may have unfolded in a direction neither one of us would ever have wanted.
So, I waited for the chance to interject and suggested that, in fact, questioning the way things are, in and of itself, is not detrimental to progress. I believe, it is what actually makes our work of creating shared community, stronger.
Honestly, I get it. Change can be scary. Presidential elections are timely opportunities to drastically change the direction of our country – we’ve seen that the potential change in our president’s ideology, which could drive our country backward under the leadership of someone like Trump, is scary. So questioning candidates’ leadership, their experience, or their policy views is how we make informed decisions about who we want to support.
In community, asking questions and being critical must not be seen as roadblocks to progress. Unfortunately, questioning the ways things are or how they came to be is often dismissed, and, the questioner is miraculously excluded from future conversations.
That’s why our community council has committed to asking, “Why,” and made space for others to ask why, as well.
Our collective work is to create a different world – a shared community. One that challenges the belief that further criminalizing our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness will solve the issue. Instead, we ask, what are other, more compassionate responses to this crisis? That’s why we’ve advocated for an expansion of LEAD to Capitol Hill.
And instead of further criminalizing people struggling with substance use or addiction, we ask, what are alternative responses that will actually help address an increasing heroin epidemic? That’s why we’re advocating for safe consumption sites.
And instead of actively excluding the voices of renters from the critical conversations about affordability and the growth of our city, we ask, how will including additional voices actually provide more value to our community? That’s why we’re committed to elevating their voices and experiences in conversations about housing and affordability.
Without questioning the way things are, we’re limiting our dreams.
Two years ago, when I joined the Capitol Hill Community Council, naturally I had plenty of questions for the current officers. It provided me valuable insight into our council’s history. But, questioning means more than that. I could use a critical lens when making decisions about our programming, what we supported, and how to best leverage our advocacy because I had already done the work of understanding, more deeply, the why and the how.
Our bi-monthly social events are great opportunities to meet neighbors, hear about what’s being done in the neighborhood, connect with different groups, and ask questions in the pursuit of deeper understanding about the issues critical to Capitol Hill.
This month, our community council is excited to partner with Witness Bar for a “Meet Your Neighbors” event on March 17 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. There will be a special whiskey tasting for guests of our event as well as light appetizers. Plus, we’ll hear from folks at King County Metro in preparation for Saturday’s Capitol Hill Link light rail station grand opening!