Alan Rhodes

Bellingham 2050

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I was walking past the Leopold Building on Cornwall Avenue when it happened. Everything turned wavy and buzzy. Bright lights were flashing in my head. Then it stopped and things were back to normal again—except different. I was perspiring inside my winter coat. I stopped a passerby and asked him what the temperature was. He said it was about 77 degrees. “But this is February,” I protested. He replied, “Yep, pretty typical winter weather for these parts now. Climate change, you know. We should have gotten serious about this a lot earlier than we did.”

I looked over at the Leopold. There was a doorman in a red coat at the entrance. The sign said “The Leopold Luxury Condominiums.” I asked a woman coming out of the front door how long this had been condos.

“Years,” she said, “way before I moved here in 2036.”

“What year is this?” I asked.

She gave me a funny look and said it was 2050. I asked how much a condo costs here and she answered, “My husband and I were lucky. We got a 500-square-foot, one-bedroom place for just over $2 million.”

As I wandered around I hardly recognized anything. There were so many high-rises the sun didn’t make it to the street.

I headed to the downtown Co-op for a cup of coffee. The building was gone. There was a new building on the site with a Korean luxury car showroom at street level and upscale apartments above. I asked a guy walking past where a good place was for a cup of coffee.

“There are Starbucks and Woods Coffees on every corner,” he said. “Those are the only espresso places around here.”

“What about the Black Drop? Avellino? Adagio?”

“Must have been before my time.”

I entered a Starbucks in the lobby of a financial building that used to be the YMCA. The place was full of brokers and hedge fund managers. I got a drip coffee to go and was a little rattled by the $20 price.

I walked down to the waterfront which was now all retail, hotels and condos. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of maritime business. I sat down next to an old fellow on a bench by the water. I told him I used to live here years ago and asked if he was a longtime ’hamster.

He smiled and said, “I am. Lived here all my life. And you have been gone a long time. Nobody uses ’hamster anymore. A while back folks dropped it, figured it wasn’t sophisticated enough for the new Bellingham. Or what I now call Bellevueham.”

“I suppose we’re no longer the City of Subdued Excitement.”

“Haven’t been for years. Nothing subdued about this place. Especially rents and house prices. Lucky for me I bought my place in the York neighborhood 50 years ago. Houses there now start around $4 million.”

“Wow! Can you still find halfway decent prices in the Birchwood neighborhood?”

“You kidding? That’s the trendiest, most expensive part of town. It has been ever since Amazon moved in.”

“Well, where do working people live?”

“Way out in the county. The California developers all came up here and started building huge subdivisions in the rural areas, 500 look-alike houses popping up overnight. You gotta go a long way now to find peaceful woods or an uncrowded hiking trail. Not much greenery left anywhere.”

“But we have a growth management act.”

“Sort of. It’s been watered down so much it hardly means anything.”

“This is all terrible! What’s Fairhaven like now?

“Oh, nobody really lives there. It’s all boutiques, bistros, hotels and Airbnbs now, strictly a tourist area since the cruise ships started operating out of there.”

“Have we at least done something about problems with Lake Whatcom?”

“Nope, nothing but Band-Aids and half measures, year after year. You can still drink the water, but it costs so much to treat it that we have the highest water rates in the country.”

I started yelling about all this and the next thing I knew my wife was poking me in the back and telling me to wake up. I was, of course, greatly relieved to wake from this horrible nightmare, even though I realized we could never let something like this happen.

Could we?

Past Columns
The Lilliputian Gazette

November 20, 2019

Election Elucidations

October 15, 2019

Buying Sedro-Woolley

September 4, 2019

Rescued by Rachmaninoff

July 17, 2019

Hurrahs and Harangues

May 8, 2019

Ranting and Raving

March 6, 2019

Looking Backward

January 2, 2019

Joy to the World

December 19, 2018

A Second Spring

October 3, 2018

Dog Days Deliberations

September 12, 2018

Mr. Cranky’s Files

July 11, 2018

Can We Talk?

June 20, 2018

Midnight Musings

May 16, 2018

April Fools

April 4, 2018

Rollo and Me

March 7, 2018

Egregious linguistic offenses

February 14, 2018

Events
Today
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

The Naughty List Market and Cabaret

2:00pm|Broadway Hall

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Connelly Creek Nature Area

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Holiday Craft Bazaar

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Drayton Harbor Shellebration

4:00pm|G Street Plaza

Gingerbread House Making

4:30pm|Ferndale Library

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Photos and Stories with James K. Papp

5:00pm|Gallery Pegasus

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Kids Night Out @ Western

6:00pm|Western Washington University

Lost Feast

7:00pm|Village Books

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Christmastime is Here with Skagit Symphony

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Tomorrow
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Sedro-Woolley Community Center

Winter Faire

10:00am|Whatcom Hills Waldorf School

Winter Arts & Crafts Festival

10:00am|Pioneer Park Pavilion

Old-Fashioned Christmas Market

10:00am|Friday Harbor Brickworks

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Fairhaven Winterfest

10:00am|Historic Fairhaven

Sumas Book Club

10:00am|Sumas Library

Mastering Wisteria

10:30am|Full Bloom Farm

Award-Winning Book Club

10:30am|Lynden Library

Snow Geese of Skagit

10:30am|Christianson's Nursery

Your Life is a Story Writers Group

10:30am| South Whatcom Library

Saltadena Celebration

11:00am|Saltadena Bakery

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

Holiday Craft Bazaars

11:30am

Holiday Maker's Market

12:00pm|Terramar Brewing and Distilling

Holiday Joy with Fidalgo Youth Symphony

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Holiday Tea and Crafts

1:00pm|North Fork Library

Festive Feasting Reception

1:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Teen Art Fair

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Big Holiday reds tasting

2:00pm|eifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Shrinking the Worry Monster

2:00pm|Village Books

Birding for Kids

2:30pm

Bowman Bay Holiday

3:00pm|Bowman Bay

Noel Ensemble

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

A Deep Dive Into Eve Deisher's Psyche

3:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

One Meditation

4:00pm| Boulevard Park

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Early Railroads of Whatcom County

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Center Into Solstice

7:00pm|Cafe Blue

Holiday History Hi-Jinks

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Winter Solstice Concert with SeaMuse

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Cidertails with Alexine Langdon

7:30pm|housand Acre Cider House

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

The Kelley World Tour

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Sunday
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Celtic Yuletide

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Scarlett and Dicey

4:00pm|Village Books

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

see our complete calendar »