The Eastside Myth

When I moved from Seattle to the Eastside in the late eighties, my friends rolled their eyes with urban sophistication. They mocked my move to what they considered to be the monotonously wealthy Eastside.

I quickly learned the falsity of this view. Sure, there was lots of evidence of money but working and volunteering in health and human services made crystal clear the diversity of people, even in the 80s.

More than 20 years later, with even greater density and variety of people, that myth of a uniformly well-off Eastside is even less true, yet the myth still sticks.  And, moreover, it hurts.

Nearly 5% of families live in poverty in East King County. That’s more than 20,000 people. It hurts when our community assumes its needs are met.  It hurts when funding moves elsewhere. Hunger feels as badly here as anywhere, as does homelessness or domestic violence.

This misconception has long been called The Eastside Myth by agency staffs. It is just one of a number of myths that keep us from creating the community we all want: healthy and thriving.

The Eastside Human Services Forum (www.eastsideforum.org), one of our partners, has chosen to take on the important work of combating such never-true myths, as well as growing the understanding of available services and those who use them. We look forward to sharing the results.