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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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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