Design in Community
The Seattle Design Festival tells a story. This story culminates in an annual celebration of our design community each summer, but the connections we forge within that community, and the stories they have to share, last throughout the year. Follow along with Design in Community, as we highlight some of the design stories from our community through photos and sound.
Seattle Walking Report
With Every Step
Before that moment Susanna Ryan had never considered the possibility of walking simply for the sake of it. Now she has a robust following on Instagram, where she documents novel findings and shares some of Seattle’s nearly forgotten remnants of its past.
She is also the author of two books, the Seattle Walk Report: An Illustrated Walking Tour Through 23 Seattle Neighborhoods and Secret Seattle: An Offbeat Illustrated Guide to the City’s Offbeat and Overlooked History.
“One day in 2017 something compelled me out the front door,“ says Ryan. “It was a realization that you don’t need to have anywhere to go.
And quite honestly I don’t think I’d ever gone outside for no reason before.”
That initial venture in which she simply allowed her curiosity to lead her next step has fostered a deeper understanding of the city she calls home.
“It’s altered my relationship to Seattle in just about every way,” she adds. “I was seeing this side of Seattle that I had both never seen myself or heard anybody else talk about.”
The objects she encounters during her walks tend to communicate with Ryan. They often lead her to imagine their influence in shaping the spirit of a place and its people.
“I like to look at these little things that are parts of the environment,” she says. “I think about how all these different people relate to this thing, this little mundane thing, in all these ways we’ll never know.”
Ryan has almost always drawn. It’s a passion that has become especially animated through her walking adventures. Occasionally, it enables her to locate deeper connections.
“Somebody came up to me at one of the book signings with printouts of one of the roundabouts [featured in her first book],” she recalls.
‘“This is my roundabout that I adopted,”’ she shares, the memory of the woman’s story bringing a smile to Ryan’s face. ‘“I planted that plant!
I never thought I’d see this in a book, ever.”’
Ryan still thinks that it is good to have nowhere to go, helping her connect to the parts of herself that remain curious, creative, and open to possibility.
“When I realized that a good walk could start right outside my front door and take me anywhere,” she shares. “That really opened my eyes and made me fall in love with walking.”
Seattle Walk Report is the second in our Design in Community series – check out the first one on Fremont Bouldering Project.