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Eat Play Thaw has enjoyed being featured in the local media.


Story aired 7/10/14

Thawing the Seattle Freeze, one neighbor at a time


The Seattle Freeze. It’s a local phenomenon so well known it even has it’s own wikipedia entry. If you’re unfamiliar, The Seattle Freeze is a term that describes how hard it is to make friends in the city. The belief is that locals are polite, nice and friendly, but it’s tough to establish a real, long lasting connection. Or get an invitation to hang out.

What I’ve noticed is born and bred locals are often oblivious to the existence of The Freeze, while transplants like me have experienced it for years.

“I was born and raised in Seattle,” says Sammamish resident, Loren Callahan. “So it’s interesting to think about all this because I’ve heard about Seattle Freeze over the years, that it’s not friendly. And I thought, ‘That’s strange.'”

Becky Henchman is from the Seattle area, so when she learned about the Seattle Freeze she decided to do something. Starting with a blog called Eat Play Thaw.

“Seattle is my city. What can I do to change that? What can I do to be a more welcoming person? So I just set a goal for myself of wanting to get to know more of my neighbors. So I’m going to have one dinner with a neighbor, once a month, for the next twelve months, in the hopes of getting to know more people better.”

Some have blamed The Freeze on Seattle’s nordic roots, others say its the weather.

“For a good, maybe, nine or ten months out of the year, you leave in the morning when it’s dark and you come home when it’s dark,” Becky says. “The garage door goes up, the garage door goes down. You may go ten months without seeing a next door neighbor.”

Case in point:

“I was pregnant in the winter. My next door neighbor, when they saw the stork in the front yard, they thought, ‘Well, maybe they just adopted.’ Because she had never seen me pregnant.”

For her first attempt at thawing, Becky arranged a lunch for a group of neighborhood women, and since then some of them have caught on to the idea as well.

“I read her blog and ended up asking a few neighbors over,” says Becky’s neighbor, Jennifer Smith.” We were going to share a bark delivery so I thought, why don’t we have a barbecue afterward? It’s kind of funny when you suggest that. You don’t know what the reaction is going to be. ‘Do you guys want to come over afterward for a barbecue?’ But everyone was just, immediately, ‘Yes, that would be great!'”

To many people around this country, hesitating or being nervous about asking your neighbors over for a casual barbecue sounds strange. In other parts of the country, that’s the norm.

“The neighborhood drop-over has disappeared,” Becky laments. “How often do you knock on the neighbor’s door to drop in for coffee? We are a suburb that just doesn’t do that. We can make an excuse: oh, that’s just southern hospitality, they do that in the south. Well, why don’t we do that here?”

Becky says not everyone will be interested in connecting, but for every one person who wants to be left alone, there’s another who’s craving connection.

“I think you have to allow for some awkward moments when people you don’t know very well show up at your house,” says Loren. “It’s okay if there’s an awkward moment. Let it pass.”

Becky has been documenting her thawing experiences on her blog and she encourages everyone to hop on her Eat Play Thaw movement.

“It’s kind of a social experiment. If we do get intentional, what can happen in a year’s time?”



Front page Friday, 8/8/14

Sammamish blogger declares war on the ‘Seattle Freeze’

by KELLY MONTGOMERY,  Issaquah Reporter Staff Writer 

Becky Henchman has lived in the Seattle area for more than 20 years before deciding that it was finally time to meet her neighbors.

“When people first move here, it is so hard to get to know your neighbors,” said Henchman, who lives in Hampton Woods in Sammamish. “People in Seattle are friendly, but they’re not warm. It’s hard to make real relationships.”

Henchman is referring to the “Seattle Freeze,” a term on both Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary referencing Seattle’s attitude of “have a nice day, but have it somewhere else.” Urban Dictionary explains that it’s easy to get along with people in Seattle, but making friends is almost impossible. Henchman heard about the term, and realized it was in fact a pretty true statement.

“I decided to declare war on the Seattle Freeze,” she said.

Henchman began a “de-freeze” campaign in April. She started a blog called ‘Eat Play Thaw,’ vowing to have one neighbor over for dinner once a month for 12 months.

“Sometimes we make these pre-judgements on people, instead of just inviting them for coffee,” she said. “I’m just trying to be very intentional and to do it for myself, and then also encourage others to open up our own circles of friendship and accept some of those invitations as well.”

Henchman said that all friendships in life start somewhere, whether it’s through a common interest or chance meeting. Seattle is a place that is becoming more and more diverse, Henchman said, and just because people are working too much doesn’t mean they don’t need that connection.

“It means we need it even more,” she said. “People want to connect.”

So far, Henchman has had four neighbors over for dinner, a Fourth of July barbecue and a group of Sammamish women over for lunch.

“In other areas of the United States, having a neighbor over is no big deal,” she said. “But I’m doing a blog about it because it’s so odd for Seattle, and nobody really knows why that is.”

Henchman said that life is what we make it, and her goal is to commit to the “De-freeze” campaign for a year and maybe longer in the hopes of changing that Seattle reputation.

“We already live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country,” Henchman said. “What if we became the friendliest area as well? What would that do to our community?”

Henchman, who has a background in marketing and communications, said she loves to write and find stories, but wanted her blog to have a sense of integrity. Her entries include her thoughts and reflections as she journeys through her “De-freeze” campaign, ideas for people trying to get involved and meet people in their communities, recipes and more. Henchman said she hopes that more people will check out her blog simply for ideas and encouragement.

“The greatest gifts in my life have been people,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that you can’t have too many connections.”

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