Eugene Cho

a new old hero in seattle

There’s a new hero in Seattle and she’s 86 years old and she lives in my neighborhood.

My family and I live in a neighborhood called Ballard in Seattle.  We’ve lived in Seattle for 10 years and moved to Ballard about 3 years ago.  On the most part, we enjoy living in this part of Seattle.  Interestingly, everything 24 hours is within 3 blocks to our home – 24 hours Safeway, 24 hours Ballard Market, 24 hours McDonald’s, 24 hours Sunset Bowling, 24 Hours Walgreen, 24 hours Denny’s, etc.  Crazy…

But Ballard is busting at its seams.  It’s an example of a neighborhood with a long history that is fast changing with businesses, lots of condos, developments, and such.  Many don’t know that Ballard was an independent city in 1890 but was annexed by Seattle in 1907.  In 1900, Ballard was the 7th largest city in the state of Washington with a population of 4,568.  How is it changing now?  Consider this:

The retail and artistic activity has been accompanied by a real-estate boom. As of early 2007, nearly 20 major condominium/retail projects were underway or just completed within a five-block radius of the downtown Ballard core, potentially adding up to 2500 new households. This growing density is looked at with ambivalence by most of the community, but is inevitable as it had been written into the neighborhood plan created under the administration of Mayor Norm Rice which aimed to reduce suburban sprawl by targeting certain Seattle areas for high-density development. The influx of new residents will undoubtedly create further traffic congestion in the community; the relative lack of mass transit linking Ballard to other Seattle neighborhoods, and scarcity of parking in central Ballard are issues that have not been resolved.

Furthermore, consider the picture below:

450ballardhouse_6230.jpg

Seattle Times featured a story of an 86 year old woman named Edith Macefield who lives in the home above in Ballard.  She’s lived there since 1966.  As you can tell, a huge development, including a 5 story building, gym, parking, and stores, is being built around her home.  Despite being offered 1 million dollars to relocate her home, she has refused simply saying:

“I don’t want to move. I don’t need the money. Money doesn’t mean anything…”

So there she is. Standing at the front door of her 108-year-old house, tossing seeds out for the birds, just as she always has. But now, gravel and cement trucks rumble by, beeping loudly as they back up to deliver their loads. A massive concrete wall looms within feet of her kitchen window. Yellow construction cranes hover over her roof.

A chain-link fence wraps around the 1400 block of Northwest 46th Street. Once there was a scattering of neat homes with front yards and gardens occupied by millworkers and their families

Now the block is in the shadow of the Ballard Bridge, on the way to Office Max and Fred Meyer.

“When she digs her heels in, there is no changing her mind, she is set in her ways,” said her friend, musician Charlie Peck, who has known her for more than 20 years.

Ballard residents, lamenting the loss of their blue-collar, Scandinavian-rooted neighborhood as it disappears beneath swanky condominiums, sprawling grocery stores and trendy restaurants, see Macefield as a symbol of the rough-and-tumble Old Ballard, and they cheer her on. [read full story]

Reading this article reminds me how much MONEY affects nearly every single decision we make.  Economics is the fabric by which decisions are made and there’s something tragic about it all.  I include myself in this matrix.  As Christians, how easy is it for us to see economics as a parallel to God’s blessing, God’s open door, etc. 

I drive my Ms. Edith Macefield’s home nearly every day.  Never knew the story.  Thought it was goofy and awkward to see this small home in the middle of this giganormous project.  But now, knowing her story, that home is a symbol of hope. 

Money isn’t everything.  How cool is that?

Filed under: family, religion, seattle

3 Responses

  1. brad brisco says:

    Wow great story and reminder that $ isn’t everything indeed. Although I have to admit I was thinking “man here is what I would do with a million bucks!”

  2. Janet says:

    I read the article as well and was struck by what appeared to be the simplicity of her decision making process.

    …This is my home and I want to stay here…

  3. joanne says:

    i love this:) shes so cute! we always see her out chatting with the construction workers. though i would have taken the million bucks, shes my hero too:)

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Father - daughters bonding (and freezing) time at the Seahawks game. Grateful to the Panthers organization for the tickets. Now, go Hawks. Pound the Panthers. The family that karaokes together stays together. #ChoFamilyKPopFamily Family time in one of my favorite cities in the world - especially when the exchange rate is so favorable. Thank you, Vancouver, for being such a great refuge for our souls for the past 20 years. #QuestVancouver It's the day after...that day.
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