Edmonds Military Wire: ‘The War Started at Home’

Mike SchindlerBy Michael Schindler

“Edmonds is where people go to die…or buy old lady’s clothes.” So said my coffee appointment with a seasoned veteran in his mid-20s, whom I was trying to convince that Edmonds would be a great place for a soft land and new start.

Some might be shocked by this opinion, but I could understand his point. Edmonds is not known for being cutting edge, innovative, a thought-leader, or progressive – and some prefer it that way. After all, and I do sincerely mean what I’m about to write, we don’t want to be the next Kirkland.

But it may just benefit us all to consider “rebranding” our reputation to something a bit more sustainable than the “final chapter” where things die not just physically but mentally. Old ideas are repackaged as “the Edmonds way” and new ideas are cast aside as violating some unspoken code of conduct to maintain status quo.

As we continued our conversation, I explained how the average age in Edmonds is now late 40s (which to a guy in his 20s is still pretty old…but to a guy in his 40s I think it is considerably young) and more young families are moving here when they can find housing.

“Maybe so,” he said as he crossed his arms, “but since I don’t make $100,000 I’d have to live somewhere else and what job could I possible commute to Edmonds for – even if I wanted to get a foot-hold?”

Point taken. We live in a mature city and to attract young talent may be a bit difficult.

Our state has and will continue to have considerable talent cycle out of the military in the next few years. Talent that has proven management and on-demand decision-making skills, an attention to detail, a more rounded worldly perspective and a get-er-done mentality. Much like the young veteran I was speaking to, they will be looking for their next mission where they can make a positive contribution — and if not here, then where?

As we were walking out of Cafe Louvre, the young man stopped me to make one final point, “Mike, the war for me began when I got home — no job, people freaked that I may have PTSD, and a long wait for my benefits. I’m good at what I do and I want to make a difference. Can I do that in Edmonds?”

I smiled — and thought, I sure hope so — one day.

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include  “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.”  He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

  1. Mike, point well taken, now how do we convince the nay sayers to change their attitudes of no growth or heaven forbid CHANGE…that is the million dollar question.

  2. Gail, I had the privilege of mentoring under one of the most balanced individuals when it comes to business and family life for the past sixteen years – he would remind me at times that “getting out of my comfort zone” was necessary in order to understand what I was capable of becoming. He would say, “if you aren’t growing Schindler, you are already dead, just waiting for your body to catch up.” If we don’t change, it is only a matter of time before the economy catches up with Edmonds.

    I think the answer lies in implementation of the Strategic Plan – or at least portions of it in a controlled manner. There has been a lot of work put into the plan by some highly capable people – but the key isn’t just the plan, the key is execution and leadership.

    There will always be naysayers – and some we can convert by showing the value of change. Others will refuse – but there is a place for that voice as well because we can learn why they are “dead set” against change.

    The bigger question is why and where should someone invest a million dollars here in Edmonds?

  3. Mike,
    Private investment often does well by following public investment. I can think of a few recent and upcoming projects that should draw attention. The intersection and pedestrian upgrades at 5 corners could incentivize mixed use redevelopment of some adjacent properties. At 4 stories a building in that location might have some views and be in line with the slow/low growth expectations of the nearby neighborhoods.

    Also, developers or those interested in locating here should note in that plan you mention that the city (and region) is interested in supporting development and activity near transit, for a variety of reasons. They need to look at where the best service is and likely will remain. Harbor Square sits next to just 4 one-way peak train trips with a single destination: Seattle (and all the way at the south end of downtown mind you). It’s great for those who can use it, but let’s face it, they are few. On the other side of town up on Hwy. 99 Edmonds has 2 Swift Bus Rapid Transit stations at 238th and 216th with service every 12 minutes most of the day and every 20 minutes into the evening. The line goes South to Aurora Village and connects with KC Metro for trips through Shoreline and all the way to downtown Seattle (Soon to be a comparable RapidRide line). Going north you can get to everything between here and downtown Everett. I hope there wouldn’t be much objection to putting some of our needed density and more affordable starter housing (even apartments) up by the highway. If new residents and employees can commute on transit and reduce thier transportation costs, they will have more to spend on other things. Personally, living with only one car in my family for a number of years allowed us to buy a sailboat. Perhaps someone else would choose to save up the needed downpayment to buy a nice home in one of the neighborhoods farther west after a few years and put down roots in the community. If the city lets builders provide less parking in areas with good transit, they could save that expense and still have plenty of customers delivered right to their door. Less parking could translate to lower rents and higher profit margins. If the residents have less cars and the customers aren’t circling around looking for a parking spot, they won’t be causing any more congestion.

    In addition to providing good anchors for development in our city, Community Transit is a very veteran friendly employer.

    That’s where I’d put the million, now where is that winning lottery ticket?

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