Who we are
Bramble consists of Brian & Bo, two Seattle residents in the real estate industry who met as dewy-eyed grad students at the University of Washington.
We are an inevitable part of growth and change, while remaining conflicted about the negative impacts that can come with it.
Friends we love have moved into formerly low-income communities while existing residents are socioeconomically replaced. Where boring new buildings indifferently puncture existing neighborhood fabric, we want to believe that translates to affordable rents, and yet the market compels a dimmer view.
Fundamentally, we’re opposed to presenting urban development as a binary choice between supporters and obstructionists.
Density can be done well or poorly. Through stories of developers who put extra effort into getting density right, we hope to make it clear that change is not, in fact, a binary decision.
We think it’s critical to understand “good” density beyond the rules of how neighborhoods are permitted to develop. Who develops them, and who lives in them, is also key. At first we called this X factor “socially responsible development”, although “development that gives a damn” is probably more accurate.
Back in 2012, we’d written here:
We’re most interested in the corners of the real estate industry that intersect with community development and neighborhood-level social structure. We believe that real estate developers are accountable for the block-by-block demographics that contribute to public life, and that this power can be better utilized in collaboration with the communities that developers serve.
Since then, we’ve deepened our awareness of urban development’s complexity, while continuing to see shades of gray.
Story by story, we’re joining efforts to nudge urban development culture toward the light. We hope you find this journey as interesting as we do.
Beginning in June 2018, Bo is the Real Estate Strategist at the City of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development. Her role is to coordinate anti-displacement strategies. Her approach is systemic thinking centered on relationships and collective intelligence.
Brian is a Realtor who donates a portion of his commissions to anti-displacement efforts in Seattle. He also works as an independent consultant for local developers. Current and past clients include Lake Union Partners, Allegra Properties, SCIDpda (pro bono), and Evolution Projects.
In 2017, we helped facilitate a year of conversations across the national political divide. The resulting story has a lot of implications on connection and community at the local level. (Full story | Summary | Moving forward)
In 2014, Bo wrote two articles on the semantics of density and the relationships between neighborhoods and small-scale developers.
In 2012, we hosted a community conversation with candidates for public office in Seattle on how to better advance the cause of socially responsible development. [URL]
Brian’s 2012 master’s thesis analyzes re-development incentives and their suitability in the International District’s historic core, in light of social structures and owner objectives. [PDF]
Bo’s 2011 master’s thesis is a history of community dialogue in the re-design of Pioneer Square’s Occidental Park, interpreted through the lens of local power structure. [PDF]