As I sit here in the Top Pot on the corner of 180th and Bothell-Everett Hwy, I can’t help but wonder where all my neighbors are. In many of the neighborhoods around Seattle, and even in downtown Bothell, the corner coffee/doughnut shop would be packed at 9:30AM on a weekday. But not here. The truth is that I know where my neighbors are. They are at their jobs at Microsoft or Boeing or Amazon or their startup. They are in Bellevue or Seattle or South Everett. The kids are in school and the work-from-home workers are working from home.
And this pattern is reflective of a statement that I’ve heard a number of times in recent months: “North Creek is no man’s land.” It sounds strange to say that about one of the fastest-growing areas of the entire Puget Sound region, but one look around today makes that statement seem perfectly logical. North Creek is a bedroom community. Tons of people live here, but few work here. Most people commute to other locales during the day and return to North Creek to sleep. So there are tons of new homes, some parks, some schools, and a few local businesses but these things do not a community make.
Many of us in North Creek have a Bothell address, but if you ask the Bothell city council, there is little interest in anything north of Thrasher’s Corner and East of 35th. Similarly, we live closer to the Mill Creek town center but we’ve never been confused for part of Mill Creek either. This area remains part of unincorporated Snohomish County, but that means our local government is all the way up in Everett. There is not even a hint of a “downtown North Creek” and there is no community center or central gathering place for neighbors here. And most of the people who live here have moved here in just the last couple of years, so most of us just don't know who our neighbors are.
All this creates the feeling of not really belonging anywhere. And many North Creek residents rightfully value some of the independence that comes from being unincorporated like less restrictions and the ability to shoot off fireworks. But the other side of this independence is a fierce lack of community. And, to be clear, this is not an argument for incorporating, only for figuring out what it means to be a community in “No Man’s Land.”
So over the next few months, this blog is going to explore some of the people, stories, and businesses that shape North Creek in an attempt to build a sense of connection and community in this overlooked part of Snohomish County. If you or a neighbor have a story to share, a local business to spotlight, or an issue worth raising in North Creek, we want to know about it. Because ultimately, we know this is not "No Man's Land," this is our place- whoever we are.