Myra Lara is frustrated with classist zoning restrictions

Local queer, Latinx artist Myra Lara held a very well attended art opening at Hybrid_Space last week. Not Even Barely Legal: (Desperately) Creative Infill Development included a mix of architectural sketches, comics, and is grounded in activism. Myra Lara is a thoughtful, talented artist who is foucsed on education and advocacy for spatial justice.

The art exhibit was a fantastic intersection of accessible entry points for people to think about zoning, maybe for the first time. It also included some urbanist inside jokes that would satisfy any policy wonk. For example, she designed an exclusive “snug club” wearable patch. I found this to be a fun tongue and cheek allegory to counter to existing neighborhood groups, themselves often exclusive groups that perpetuate exclusionary zoning of big lot detached single-family​ homes. Instead of watching a dry presentation about converting parking to housing, Lara demonstrated the possibilities through using the color yellow to highlight current use versus future use of limited land in our cities.

Lara told The Urbanist that she is working to “reframe the conversation” about what it means to share the city. She wants to “make it accessible through making it visually interesting. Alex Brennan, a Capitol Hill renter, quipped, “This exhibit says everything I want to say about Seattle, but better!” Another attendee said, “I’d never thought about this before. It made me think about (the housing crisis) differently.”

Housing policy is full of difficult jargon, counterintuitive relationships, and if you finally become confident enough to advocate for changes, city government is quite intimidating to access. Lara’s art exhibit is an example of how people’s imaginations can be engaged to spur action.

When you’re new to thinking about how to grow our cities, conversations feel exclusive and off putting to non-wonks. Seattle urbanists often talk about welcoming communities; Myra Lara’s exhibit was one of the most welcoming urban planning events I’ve attended.

Learn more about Myra Lara // @nullthread // Support the artist by donating here.

Check out the exhibit through June 2nd at HyBrid_space. HyBrid_space is located at 1205 E Pike St, # 2D (upstairs).

Article Author
Laura Loe (Bernstein)

Laura Loe (Bernstein) is an educator, musician, and gardener from Colombia/NY/LA/Chicago who has lived in Seattle since 2009. Her writing has appeared in Data for Progress, The Urbanist, The Seattle Globalist, South Seattle Emerald, and International Examiner. She is passionate about womxn urbanist voices, climate justice, community ownership, equitable community development and renters' rights. Laura founded Share the Cities with like-minded folks and performs civic matchmaking that leads to unlikely allyships. She tweets as @sharethecities and @lauraloeseattle and is supported by 90 monthly patrons on Patreon.