Good-bye Seoul, Hello Spokane 9: Uni-culture and subcultures

South Korea would fit between San Fran and LA. It’s 1/2 the size of the state of Washington, has 7 times the population and 3 times the GDP. And it has a shared, countrywide, Confucian-based culture. Spokane has no such uni-culture — unless it’s something like “the people here are really nice.” Instead, I’ve noticed subcultures. Kendall Yards, where we’re housesitting, has a small gathering area of restaurants, a Pilates place, bike shop, community center, etc. that has a sort of hip new urban vibe. To the South, across the Spokane River, is downtown — a blend of old and new, established and on the make. Further south is South Hill, which is rich in trees and community-mindedness. East of here,the University District is what you would expect from a congregation of three different campuses. There are other neighborhoods and the burbs, and interweaving them all are subcultures like the arts scene, which has at least three sub-subcultures: the art museum/symphony/big touring shows older demographic; a scene that launched with a big downtown renewal vision a few years ago but then faded; and today’s vibrant new emerging artists scene. There’s also the micro-brewery and coffee shop crowds, the foodies and outdoor fitness enthusiasts, and so many more — all these subcultures, each with its own ways to enter, connect, and exit, its own vocab, causes, and experiences. Observing them makes me think the USA is kind of like that: thousands of subcultures, from localized to statewide or nationwide in reach, each with a shared national history but not a shared national uni-culture — unless it’s that Yank can-do bravado we’re known for around the world.

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Kevin Rhodes

Athlete, atheist, artist, still clinging to the notion that less believing and more thinking might work.