I TELL people that I am a native of Seattle, but that I only knew it before it became cool. The creative economy hadn’t really happened yet – Boeing was the booming Microsoft equivalent back then; there was nascent grunge music and no coffee culture to speak of.
But amid the rain, and the fog, and the rain, and the rain, Seattle was home to the beginning of my journey traversing the fields of technology, art and design.
Eighteen years later on my journey, my foremost conclusion is that there is great power in these fields taken separately, and even more when they are put together. It’s why I believe we need to add an “A” for art to the national STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education agenda – to turn it to STEAM.
It all began at Graham Hill Elementary School in southeast Seattle, when my third-grade teacher, Ms. Horita, told my parents at a parent-teacher conference that I was good at two things: math and art. My father, a Japanese immigrant, owned and operated a tofu store for 27 years in the Chinatown International District. The day after the meeting, he proudly announced to one of his tofu customers: “John is good at math.”