I’m giving a TEDx talk on May 4th.


The details will be updated here, at the home page for TEDxUofW. 

I’ll be intermittent on The Urbanist between now and then, but it’s not because I don’t love contributing! I need time to finesse this thing so it can be worth your while. You know how I like to get these sorts of things right (check out the Speeches page on my site for past public speaking appearances of mine!). 

That’s one update. The other update is that as of last night I’m finally back where I belong: on the fabulous, legendary nighttime 7/49. You won’t have to read about me griping about lack of community on the 5 (although I’ve really grown to adore some of the folks out there; more on that anon). Instead, you’ll hear me waxing poetic about the litter on my bus, pictured above, on one of the few lines where the route is instantly identifiable by the condition of the coach interior!

And sharing moments like this one, which happened on my first night back, and the number of similar incidents of which I’ve already lost count:

Sensitive dark eyes glinting with a human spark after hours, deep in the southland interior. “Where you been, man?” he exclaimed. He had that certain middle-aged grin, easy, a face that still thinks it’s a child from time to time, able to glow.

I smiled wide. “I been right here waiting for you!”
“Ha! Really though!”
“I was hidin’ out on another route but I had to get back here. I missed this one!”
“What number they had you on?”
“The 5.”
“The 5, oh. How you like that?”
“The 5 is…” I gave the ‘more-or-less’ hand gesture. “It’s okaayyyyyy.”
“It’s okayyy.”
“Yeah it’s, you know. They’re all right. But I miss the energy out here, people sayin’ hey!”
“Tha’s what I’m talkin‘ about! My guy is IN TOWN!”
“You know it!”
“IN TOWN!” He had to put his ebullience somewhere; it was too much for only me. He turned to the person next to him, a half-attentive younger fellow this midnight hour, but who nodded in agreement to his enthusiasm: “Ey, you know this guy? Talkin’ ’bout this driver, bro! Beautiful boy! Man’s got a heart, you know wh’I’m saying?” He reached back up to me with his voice. “Ah love you. No. I love you.”
“Love you back, my guy! Great to be back!”
“Sheeeyit. Man, stay on our shift! Love you. Everyday just like you know, we already got what we need!”

I might be the only person who’s equally excited to be giving a TED talk and driving the night 7….

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Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.


  1. Being a Metro bus driver yourself, I’m honestly a little disappointed you didn’t take a moment to recognize the heroics of your colleague Eric Stark.

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