Growing up in a traditional Atlanta Jewish family and having been blessed with a strong Jewish education, my role as an active member of the Jewish community is something I value deeply. I am drawn to organizations and causes that reflect the core Jewish values that continually guide my personal and professional pursuits. My involvement with Jewish community organizations - including the Anti-Defamation League, Young Leadership Division of the Jewish Federation, Jewish Family Service, AIPAC, and many others - has paved the way for my connection to socially progressive and environmental organizations such as Global Partnerships, Washington Conservation Voters, and Powerful Voices.
The mitzvot which govern our lives tell us it is a Jewish responsibility to help those less fortunate, build and strengthen our communities, respect our natural world, and ensure values of social justice, environmental stewardship, and sustainability. The organizations I support reflect these beliefs.
I’ve also worked hard to align my personal and professional goals. I’ve even chosen to create a company that brings together communications professionals with unique talents and diverse backgrounds to help organizations, issues, and services that elevate the importance of social responsibility and environmental stewardship in our world.
As a communications professional, I have had the privilege of working as a consultant to the Seattle Monorail Project. In November 2002, Seattle voted to fund a five-line, citywide elevated transit system and charged the SMP - an independent governmental agency - with making it a reality. I am convinced the new monorail will make a difference for people throughout Seattle who have been mired in a traffic mess for as long as I have lived here. The first line, the Green Line, travels along the congested corridors that links downtown with Ballard, Queen Anne, Seattle Center, Belltown. the stadiums, and into West Seattle.
Over the past year, I have been inspired by the unique approach of a public agency that is as motivated by its broader social mission as it is by its voter mandate to offer a much-needed transportation choice for Seattle. Because there is an upcoming vote surrounding the monorail, I feel it is my responsibility to provide a personal view of the project and urge you to vote no on Initiative I-83 on November 2.
The monorail will provide relief to a city stuck in traffic. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, half the drivers in America’s 20 most congested cities spent the same amount of time stuck in traffic as they did on vacation. Time that could be spent with family and friends is wasted stuck in cars. Nearly every other city in this country, as well as those in Europe and Asia, has tackled the issue by providing its people with rapid transit alternatives. A common element of vibrant, lively cities is that you can forsake the automobile and move around easily with subway, light rail, monorail and buses. Cities strive to provide as many of these choices as they can, so that everyone can participate in the life of the city.
Just as important as providing a long overdue transportation solution, however, is the SMP’s commitment to our natural environment. Through innovative and progressive contracting, employment and design policies, and by stressing social considerations such as universal access for people with disabilities, design for crime prevention, and woman-owned and minority-owned contracting, SMP is charting new territory.
SMP has implemented many different programs to create opportunities for women and people of color, entry-level workers, and military veterans.
With the input of people with disabilities, SMP has developed comprehensive access plans for the monorail that include level loading platforms, centrally located elevators, tactile flooring, and Braille signage.
The construction of the Green Line will bring economic opportunity to those who have been underrepresented on major public works projects, but it will also stimulate the broader Seattle economy as a whole.
The Green Line is one of the largest public works projects in the city’s history and over the five-year construction period, it is projected that over 2,100 family-wage jobs will be added to the local economy. Over the life of the project, state and local government programs can expect to benefit from increased property tax revenue. This revenue will accrue to many of the social services so vital to our communities including education, law enforcement, and emergency services.
The Seattle Monorail Project is committed to doing things the right way. Its forward-thinking sustainability policy includes efforts to design with low-impact, low-waste, and low-toxicity. It will provide as many as 20 million trips every year by 2020 and will reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
The Sierra Clubs research shows that seven of the 12 cities with the lowest car and truck smog per person (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and Washington, DC) are located in the states that spend the most on clean transportation choices, demonstrating the power of public transit as a tool to combat air pollution. As Seattle residents fortunate enough to live in a city rich with such enviable natural beauty and natural resources, safeguarding our "home" in the Northwest is not a choice, but an obligation.
I am writing this article as an individual, not as a consultant and not at the request of anyone. I have had the chance to learn so much about the project that I feel it is important to convey this knowledge. Often, we are faced with choices that challenge the priority of our Jewish consciousness and force us to consider the question, "What would my Judaism tell me to do?"
In this case and on November 2, the answer to me is crystal clear. Vote No on I-83 and support a project that is groundbreaking on so many levels.