Federal Way's path to self-sufficiency | Andy Hobbs

Kudos to Federal Way for weaning itself off another King County teat.

The city is breaking away from the county and launching an animal services unit. With this autonomy, the city brings better service to the people at a better price. Federal Way no longer competes for the county's attention with its other suckling siblings in this category. Sometimes it's more efficient and practical to do things yourself.

Upwardly mobile Federal Way has taken a small step along the path toward self-sufficiency. The journey began with one big leap in 1990, when Federal Way incorporated as a city.

With the animal services unit, Federal Way creates another opportunity with a purpose. At the same time, the city severs another county purse string.

Self-sufficiency does not mean isolation. Consider that North Korea, with a self-sufficiency policy called juche, has nearly seceded from the outside world, making demands of other nations instead of building alliances. Obviously, Federal Way is a child of King County, Puget Sound, Washington state and the USA. The key is to walk alongside the big boys, rather than ride in their strollers.

Self-sufficiency is more of an ideal than a goal. Rather than rejecting all outside aid and support, the self-sufficient will treat outside aid as an "in case of fire break glass" option.

Just last year, some Federal Way leaders wanted to dissolve the controversy-stained municipal court and contract with district court. This idea marked a potential step backward in self-sufficiency, negating past efforts to create an autonomous court in the first place.

At the social level, two major Federal Way charities lead low-income residents toward self-sufficiency in their everyday lives. FUSION and the Multi-Service Center open doors to shelter, employment and confidence. People learn to harness their own potential and build momentum in their lives. This eases the cost of survival and reduces reliance on a helping hand.

Self-sufficiency does not mean a rejection of love, companionship or assistance. It means less reliance on the middlemen of survival.

Of course, there are limitations. Only the few will devote the time toward building their own houses and cars. Unless you're a farmer, the grocery store is a welcome middleman — compared to the effort behind growing a healthy harvest for the year. That said, what is it about a self-grown garden tomato that tastes so good?

The path to self-sufficiency starts and ends with those who create their own luck. The struggle of going it alone is a small price to pay for the possibility of springing ahead.

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