Opinion

Federal Way needs a path forward | My Perspective

Keith Livingston - Contributed
Keith Livingston
— image credit: Contributed

As individuals we all have expectations for ourselves, family, neighbors, schools, and the city where we live.

Stephen Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” states: “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

If we apply Mr. Covey’s thought to the city of Federal Way and treat it as it is, on its current path, it may not grow and over time it will become less attractive than it is. Being afraid to state the obvious is a hindrance to this city’s long-term viability. My impression is that Federal Way has no real vision of where it wants to be as a city in the greater Tacoma – Seattle – Bellevue metropolitan area.

The city’s vision statement, which is: “Federal Way is a community known for its cultural diversity, attractive parks, safe neighborhoods, and vibrant business centers,” is written in the past tense. So as I read the city’s vision statement, I surmise that it has no vision of where it wants to go and it sees its past as its strength?

Jim Ferrell as a candidate for mayor ran on the slogan, “We can do better.” However, his slogan was not a vision statement but served as a positive poke for his campaign. I do not fault Ferrell this early in his term, but if in a year or so the city does not have a better vision statement, then we are known for our past, he and Council can be framed as able to maintain status quo and not much else.

Mr. Ferrell, this city needs a path forward stating clearly how it can begin changing its spots from being one of the mediocre cities in the south Puget Sound into a special place for cultural activities, a city where families with young children come to pursue quality education, college graduates choose to grow their careers and be attractive to entrepreneurs in pursuit of changing the world.

To begin this process, the mayor needs to initiate the development of a forward-thinking vision statement. The mayor and Council as elected officials may be the deciders of some of this city’s future, but as citizens of Federal Way it is our responsibility as well to begin raising our expectations of what this city can be rather than accepting it as it is.

Where is this city’s “can do” spirit? Is there a collective imagination within our non-elected leadership core, elected officials and city staff to visualize a progressive path forward? Or will the bottom feeders who benefit from status quo and the steady trend toward poverty prevail?

The process begins with understanding this city’s attractability or lack thereof.  Can the mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel’s positive endorsement on the Performing Arts and Conference Center and its construction be the catalyst for a new higher level of attractability? Is the city willing to undertake the challenge of changing its spots and encourage a discussion of what it can be rather than accepting what is?

I believe that Federal Way has the potential to be the premier city in the south Puget Sound. But do we as its residents have the will to challenge ourselves and undertake a visioning process with our elected leadership?

Creating a vision statement is one thing; following through is the ultimate challenge.

The magic of thinking “big” is what quality leadership does. A desire for status quo is what small and negative thinkers bring to the table. Change is hard but Federal Way should embrace becoming more than it is.

Federal Way resident Keith Livingston: keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com

 

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