Recently I read a statistic about property crime in Washington vs other states in the U.S.—we're number one! And as Tacoma has the highest crime rate in the state of Washington, that very likely puts us near the top of the list for property crime in the country. I don't like reading statistics like this, as they make me feel like I'm not living in a safe place. Sometimes these statistics can be hard to ignore.

Graffiti at Chinese Reconciliation Park

Living in a neighborhood that is on the upswing, has its benefits—but it also has its drawbacks. My husband and I moved to Hilltop in the Fall about two years ago, and we recently bought our home here. Since moving into our home, we have had only one item stolen from us—an electric timer for the bistro lights on our front porch. At the time, I thought nothing of it—but looking back on it, I realize I should have reported the theft. If it isn't reported it may as well have never happened.

Crime is a sensitive subject for Tacoma, and Hilltop especially. Tacoma is known locally as a smelly uneducated crack-den with no character. As a Tacoman I know better, and love the city, but it always stings a little when somebody labels my street "the hood." I've made a lot of accomplishments in my life, buying my first home is one of them and I am proud of it. I can almost excuse some of the misinformation that floats around about Tacoma. The very neighborhood I live in was once one of the most dangerous on the west coast. The alley behind my home has long since been closed on one end to combat drug movement and other seedy behavior. A little girl was once abducted from that same alley, her home—a beautiful old Dutch Colonial—stands right behind my house.

Tacoma has changed, and is still changing. People tend to look at Tacoma like it is at a stand still, but Tacoma isn't standing still. Tacoma is rising from the negative image that once plagued us. Tacoma is defining itself and growing and what I see is beautiful and inspiring. Tacoma is my home. When people used to ask me where I'm from, I used to say "40 minutes south of Seattle" but now I proudly tell them I live in Tacoma. I no longer need to define myself with Seattle, and neither does Tacoma. They're two different cities, that have a lot to offer—Tacoma does not need Seattle, and Seattle does not need Tacoma—we're all just as good as each other.

Tacoma's story has always been about change—though not always positive. Tacoma was once a proud city, positioned to take many titles. At one point Tacoma—a city larger than Seattle—boasted a lot of successes. It was chosen as the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which fed development in the city. Eventually, Seattle did overtake Tacoma, and many years of neglect have left Tacoma crumbling and clawing out of a pit of filth.

Tacoma today is rediscovering the pride it once felt. Crime rates are on the way down, the downtown parking lots are on their way out, and the city is doing everything it can to improve the quality of life for its residents. What we have today is a beautiful, character rich city, that most people may never experience as they've already made up their minds about it. I was once one of those people, but I let myself see the beauty in a blighted city. I let myself believe in change.