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“We’re Talking About Taxes?!?!” (Part I of V)

About a month ago, a problem needed solving. I was building a model, and some of the logic needed clarification. Problem was, my brain was dead (it was 2:30pm – aka the time where all brains that work in offices universally shut off…or slow down to about the speed of the longest science experiment ever). Bennett, our Minister of Wellness, suggested we take a quick walk around the block to see if we could revive my brain and solve the problem. Skeptically, I agreed to go. Bennett asked what I was trying to figure out, and I started explaining it to him with a slight glaze in my eyes.  However, as we were making our way around the block, I noticed a unique grid pattern in the sidewalks. With more squares than a normal sidewalk, I quickly realized this would be an excellent way to visualize the problem I was trying to solve (a Y axis here, an X axis there, Mike will be the Z axis).  Voila! A few clarifying questions from Bennett, and we were on our way to a solution.  Walking around the block may not be the solution that is always needed, but it was creative, and it worked.

What we’re doing

Coming up with creative solutions to unique problems. That’s what we’re trying to do here at Linksbridge, and that is what we hope to do through our series of blog posts.  We’re going to explore a situation that we care about, see what some of the problems might be with that situation, and then propose some really cool, potentially possible, but definitely creative solutions.

Over the next few months, developing and publishing this series of posts. These posts will serve a few purposes: connecting with our communities, learning some skills, and understanding better the issues that we care about.  If in the process, we are also able to teach, enlighten and share with others, well that will be an added bonus.

Our community

We live, work and play in Seattle.  Both of us are also pretty new to the city, and love getting to know people around us, the city and its history.  So we’re going to focus on Seattle. Our posts, our ideas, and our exploration will be in the context of what goes on in the Emerald City. We’re looking forward to learning more about where we live, and what’s going on here.

Our skills (and ones we’re trying to develop)

When we started this project, for both of us, we wanted to use this as a platform to create rather than just consume.  We’ve got a few skills, and we want to learn by doing.   This might take the form of some interactive infographics, a cartoon that better explains something, or maybe even a game.  We’ll be learning and trying a bit of everything.

The issues

So what are we going to exploring in our first series?

Well, not just taxes. Also government, neighborhoods, and community. Every day in Seattle, millions of people move throughout the city.  During much of that movement, there are activities that include interaction with the City of Seattle government. This interaction can be in the form of a tax, a fee, or a fine (who hasn’t got a parking ticket in this city?). Or perhaps your neighborhood fireman was nice enough to help you put out that fire in your backyard.  We pay money to the government every day, and every day the government provides us services in exchange for that money.  However, this interaction is anything but clear.  Many people don’t know what piece of their money is going to the city, and equally as many people probably don’t know what they get for that money.

In fact, when we starting thinking about this, Bennett and I realized 1) how little we knew about this – and 2) that we are both really interested in this stuff. So we’re going to do some exploration.  We want to learn what a typical Seattleite is paying, and what they are paying for.  We also want to see where this interaction might be broken, and what problems might exist with the system.  Lastly, we’re going to see what opportunities there might be to improve or fix these problems.  This is a community that we are all participating in. What we know about it will impact how we act in relation to it, and to one another. As a result, those actions will affect the rest of us as well. We’re curious to see what that looks like, and we’re looking forward to exploring it.

With that, stay tuned.  Our next post will set the scene, and give a little insight into where the money goes when you park in a loading zone