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Archive Gem: In 1970, Rainier Beach students created a protest group called Stop Traffic’s Obnoxious Pollution

Sometimes when you’re digging through the city archives, you stumble on some true gems. This letter I found deep in a box in the Seattle Municipal Archives is one of them.

In 1970, some students from the Rainier Beach Cottage Program (a sort of alternative school program for middle and high school students housed within Rainier Beach High School) founded a group called STOP: Stop Traffic’s Obnoxious Pollution. The group did not mince words. They wanted everyone to stop driving cars because cars are noisy and pollute the air. And instead of driving in the streets, we could dance there.  Enjoy:

The original letter. Text is in the body of the post.Text of the letter:

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Have you ever thought of how nice it would be to get up one morning to a cleaner, clearer, quieter environment? And how much the elimination of the automobile would contribute to it? Some of the students in the Rainier Beach Cottage Program have been thinking, and have formed STOP (Stop Traffic’s Obnoxious Pollution) as a result. Though we realize that this goal cannot be accomplished overnight, we are organizing to sponsor a one-day city-wide protest of the use of the automobile. The date is tentative: Sunday, May 3, 1970.

Some of our ideas for activities that day include: Bicycle Sunday in the parks, seminars on pollution (with a particular interest in the automobile’s contribution), organized hikes and walks, and a street dance. We advocate bicycles, rollerskates, skateboards, transit, and walking as means of transportation on that day. We have much enthusiasm, and would appreciate your help in making this event successful, by means of support, donation, an idea for an event or publicity. To learn more or to contribute ideas and support, write to the above address or call PArkway 5-1677 and ask for Karen Wilson. Thank you.


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5 responses to “Archive Gem: In 1970, Rainier Beach students created a protest group called Stop Traffic’s Obnoxious Pollution”

  1. @tfooq I wonder what those kids are doing now as adults, maybe parents and grandparents. :)

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I like to think they are still cool as hell.

  2. Jeremy Benton Oliveria

    Where are these protesters today ? Probably driving gas guzzling SUVs…

  3. Don Brubeck

    As a member of the class of 1969, I’d bet some of those younger veterans of the first Earth Day in 1970 are still working at it 52 years later. This really shows how long it is taking to make this culture and economy change.
    “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” MLK Jr.

  4. Portland’s version of STOP, Sensible Transportation Options 4 People, began in the early 90’s if memory serves me well. Monthly critical mass rides got a bit out of hand hogging lanes, slowing & stopping traffic. Protest rides there then made more progress than today’s pretentious Vision Zero overrun with “driverless” AV nonsense posing as a solution to insane traffic.

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