Reimagine Seattle: Nam Nice

The challenges of the past year have changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we show up for each other. They have also given us a rare chance to collectively reimagine our future. With the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project, we invited community members to reflect on their current experiences in Seattle, how they have been impacted by the events of 2020, and their hopes for the future of our city.

Words and photos by Nam Nice

Public Market sign at Pike Place Market, with empty road in the foreground and dramatic cloudy sky in the background
person walking on rainy sidewalk in front of boarded up storefronts. mural of brightly colored birds and flowers with lungs have been painted on the plywood.

I would be lying if I said I had a great year. I don’t think most people are having the best year, with everything going on. This year has made me more aware of my surroundings and those in my life; how vulnerable we all can be and how much we are actually struggling. At the same time, it’s helped me become more aware of myself, my insecurities. I’ve become more creative outside of photography and that has pushed me to pursue other dreams.

My community is actually stronger than ever as we are all in survival mode. I see us continually looking out for each other and supporting each other in any way we can. I’m fortunate to have a large circle of incredibly good people.

man in apron and cap, standing on sidewalk and smoking a cigarette  outside a Chinese restaurant
side of building with graffiti that says "Rent Strike" - trash cans on the sidewalk in the foreground

I hope to see this city come out better than we were before this pandemic. It was good, but I don’t think it was great. Gentrification, displacement, wealth and cookie-cutter replaced originality, pride, passion, unity, creativity, culture and diversity.

If I could completely reimagine our city, it would look a lot more racially and ethnically diverse, even more than it was before. A city more balanced in creativity and small business and less monopolized by large tech companies. A city where our citizens don’t fear their police, a city where our police don’t fear the people. I want to see effective and humane resources/methods to help resolve homelessness and drug addiction. I want to see black and brown neighborhoods return and thrive with business and art.

north-facing view of I-5 with Downtown skyscrapers in the background. there are very few cars on the road and the sky is pink and purple.
exterior of Paramount Theatre with empty street. The marquee reads "This is just intermission. We'll see you soon."

Drew Le (aka Nam Nice) is a freelance photographer and former rapper hailing proudly from Rainier Valley in Seattle, Washington. When he took a hiatus from writing raps, he picked up another creative outlet, armed with a camera lens. From film to digital, portraits to street, he’s always got something to show you and there’s always a story. Learn more at http://www.namnice.com.

Submissions for the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project were commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The opinions expressed and information contained in each submission do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas, of the City of Seattle.