Measuring and comparing courage is a difficult task. We’re reminded of this each time you — our readers — send us nominations for the Crosscut Courage Awards. Which is why we in turn hand the job of selecting the honorees over to a council of civic, business, and cultural leaders in our community. Last night as that council convened, they were searching for individuals who innovate despite criticism, show selfless leadership, inspire others, follow data and best practices even when custom and tradition say otherwise, and take risk to successfully break gridlock. What they found were 60 reasons to be optimistic for our future.
Through a haze of hateful twitter attacks, robust polarization in media, and the decline of civil dialogue in public life, habits of courage are more often rewarded with criticism than celebration. Perhaps it’s easier to see it with the perspective that only comes with time. Children gathered around a piano at Camp Harmony following Executive Order 9066. The only woman to serve as Seattle’s mayor taking a hard stance against police corruption. A tribal leader under arrest for the 50th time to protect the sovereignty of tribes and their right to harvest Northwest salmon. Courage can easily be found throughout our local history. But we want to catch people in the act today.
One of my favorite pastimes is scanning the projects on Kickstarter or IndiGogo, getting a taste for the next wave of disruptive technologies designed to revolutionize my morning latte, backpacking omelets or personal posture. Perhaps that’s why attending last week’s Seattle Venture Partners' annual Fast Pitch Finals at McCaw Hall felt to me like shopping for the next companies that will revolutionize our community. Contestants pitch their ideas — live, on-stage before a panel of judges — in hopes of landing a piece of the $250,000 in grant and investments on the table.