Activists Challenge Panelists at Seattle Growth Podcast Live

Seattle Growth podcast taping at Impact Hub Seattle

Nearly 100 residents and activists attended the podcast taping

The live taping of the Seattle Growth Podcast had all the ingredients necessary for drama. An audience full of residents and activists gathered in Pioneer Square for the opportunity to question three influencers in public policy and business. In the middle stood host and moderator Jeff Shulman of the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

He created the podcast series to explore the city’s rapid growth from the point-of-view of the people most affected, and tonight their voices would be heard.  The first question from the audience directly challenged the panel of philanthropist Maggie Walker, Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton, and venture capitalist John Connors of Ignition Partners. A homeless advocate delivered a passionate and extensive speech centered on a simple idea: “What is Seattle going to do about people living on the street?”

Instead of dominating the discussion, the question got the panel and the audience at Impact HUB Seattle thinking differently about public and private collaboration to solve issues related to growth.

“This can be the world’s most important city,” said John Connors, “(if) we deal with issues that make it livable for all types of people regardless of their income level.”

John Creighton gave credit to Amazon for purchasing a motel in Seattle and turning it into transitional housing. However, he felt projects like that do not address the larger issue.

“How does the public sector, which has failed at this point, work with the private sector to find new creative ideas to address the real issues we face?” he asked.

The discussion sparked another audience member to ask if Seattle is seeking growth for growth’s sake without taking a moment to ask why growth is a good idea. Maggie Walker challenged him right back.

Seattle Growth podcast panel photo

From left to right, Foster School of Business Dean Jim Jiambalvo, philanthropist Maggie Walker, professor Jeff Shulman, Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton and John Connors of Ignition Partners

“We are riding the tiger and what you are asking us to do is dismount,” she said. “People want to come here to live and we can’t change that. The growth has created great wealth…and we have to figure out how to (use it) to solve our problems.”

Those who missed the Seattle Growth Podcast Live on October 17 can still download and listen to the latest entry in this series. The live taping was a milestone in what started as a passion project for Shulman who teaches marketing with a focus on pricing

“I think it is tremendously important that we pause and think about the issues related to Seattle’s growth,” said Dean Jim Jiambalvo, in his introduction. “I am proud that Jeff Shulman has been addressing those in his podcast.”

Shulman began the podcast series late this summer prior to his collaboration with the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and Impact Hub Seattle to produce a unique live event.

“We’re really glad that so many people could be a part of it,” said Lauren Brohawn, manager of the ENTREfest series the podcast event became a part of. “The Buerk Center has served student entrepreneurs and the entre-curious since 1991 with our student startup competitions and opportunities like this.”