IF NOT FOR THE GRAY concrete bands of the Alaskan Way Viaduct flanking the windows of my fourth-floor corner office, I might see what William Ruckelshaus sees from his berth on the 37th floor of a Second Avenue tower: a seemingly pristine expanse of Elliott Bay framed by purply mountains and verdant islands. It sure doesn’t look polluted.
And that, Ted Katauskas reports, is one problem Ruckelshaus faces in mustering support for his plan to clean up Puget Sound. Hard to believe that beneath the water’s glistening surface chinook salmon and orcas are endangered and lingcod are being suffocated by algae blooms, and harder still to recognize that their survival depends on us. “How do people live in ecosystems,” Ruckelshaus asks, “and not destroy the living things upon which we all depend?”
Such daunting ecological challenges might explain why over a million people have sought escape in the new videogame Spore. “Tired of your planet?” reads a promotion on the box, “Build a new one!” In this issue, Emily White follows a hardcore gamer on his journey from primitive life-form swimming in primordial ooze to civilized space traveler en route to the center of the galaxy. Alas, his sojourn through _Spore_’s fantasy world is just as dicey as living on our own fragile planet, what with predators and aliens and unpredictable fellow beings messing things up. And, of course, a creature’s gotta eat—and adapt—to survive.
As do we. Fittingly, in her annual tribute to top restaurants, Kathryn Robinson attests that the most groundbreaking establishments to open in the last year have adapted to this time of economic climate change with small plates, pasta menus, and tiny rooms serving local fare. She also traces the origins of influential dining establishments that altered our culinary landscape and spawned legions of imitators. It seems like a big duh now, but when Peter Canlis showed off Seattle’s magnificent water views by perching his picture-windowed restaurant high over Lake Union, he set the stage for Palisade’s glass-walled panorama of pleasure boats moored in Smith Cove.
We may rarely take the time to notice, but people like Ruckelshaus and Canlis remind us to savor the beauty and bounty ingrained in our city’s DNA, and we owe a lot to those who help Seattle evolve and keep it safe.