Last night at the downtown library, dozens of people gathered to celebrate Seattle's admission into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Literature. Authors, librarians, booksellers, and leaders of local literary organizations mingled and reflected on the five-year journey that led to the celebration.
Seattle City of Literature chairperson Stesha Brandon urged the people in attendance to reach outside their networks, to introduce themselves to people they didn't know. The organization is working to perform a full inventory of Seattle's literary resources, and I hope that once we can see the breadth and depth of the results of our literary census, the next step will be to bring people together in a meaningful way.
Claudia Castro Luna provided a sort of convocation for the event, greeting partiers with salutations in the languages of our sister Cities of Literature. And she also reminded us that we can't just celebrate our status: we have to keep working to live up to the expectations that a City of Literature title confers upon us.
Castro Luna said that Seattle is "a world-class city," but part of her definition of a world-class city is that it welcomes everyone, that "all can afford to live there." Seattle doesn't live up to that aspiration right now, she said, but "people are working on it," and she demonstrated faith that one day Seattle would again be an inclusive city, eagerly welcoming the world to our community. She didn't convey her wishes in the form of an opening prayer, but we still heard a lot of amens in that moment. We know now that the world believes in us. It's time to live up to that vote of confidence.