Lifelet: The Seahawk Twelves

What an unbelievable journey for Seahawk nation here in Southeast Alaska (thank you Jimmy Johnson).

For the last month, “Flipping My Perspective” is a way of life as I do my daily flips. For the last two weeks my Seahawk fandom and exercises are intersecting. Too many of my daily flips and free writing are about the Seattle Seahawks 12th man flag icon representing our over the top civic support.

My first 12th flag capture came while driving on the Bainbridge Island ferry to Seattle. Here is the photo, pithy flipped tag line, and my “free writing” for the flipping perspective exercise:

ferry terminal 12

“We in Southeast Alaska are living through one of those way too rare optimistically hopeful and severely anxiety making run of the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. Each week is pins and needles time to see if the Seahawks are going to keep the magic going for another week. There is something about being ignored by all the national media here in the far northwest corner of the USA. Which brings us to the 12th man phenomena. The joy of seeing 12th man flags in so many surprising places just warms my heart. Today’s surprise was seeing a 12th man flag on the ticket taker’s booth at the Bainbridge Island ferry entrance. A smile automatically comes to my face and a wonderful conversation with the ticket taker. Just a brightening of an otherwise dull gray day here in Seattle. As I continued to see 12th person flags throughout Seattle and environs I started wondering what it would be like if each of us had the energy and enthusiasm and bonding of a 12th man in our work or personal lives. Somebody that was always faithful and not judgmental and constantly cheering me on. Maybe that is a business we can start or a new URL ending like .COM – .12man.  At any rate, back to basics, GO SEAHAWKS! Beat the snot out of those Broncos in New York (oops New Jersey).”

Every day the local media capture Close Encounters of the 12th Kind. My two favorites are what Russell Investments Center companies committed to and the “take that Denver” corporate support of Boeing.

seattle skyline Russell 12

The Puget Sound Business Journal shared the story of the work it took Carl Shumaker of Daniels Real Estate to figure out how to create an 18 story high 12 on the west facade of the Russell Investments Center 42 story building.

Carl Shumaker, Daniels’ vice president of construction, worked with a Seattle company called Blue Danube Productions to sketch out the design of where to tape light-defusing paper to the windows, each of which is lit with two 500-watt spotlights that are left on in the building scheduled to open in April.

It’s a more complicated undertaking at the Russell Investments Center, a big, busy building where 3,500 people work. Many of them are in on the building’s 12, helping position the shades on 418 windows just so. If even one is off, the whole scheme unravels.

“The first night we had a backward five instead of a two,” said Coleen Spratt, a general manager with CommonWealth Partners, the owner of Russell Investments Center.

CommonWealth is riffing off something that happened in 2006, the first and last time the Seahawks made the Super Bowl. Back then the building was Washington Mutual’sheadquarters, and the bank configured the window shades to light up the skyline with a 12.

“We tried to take the original idea and make it look exactly like the 12 the Seahawks use. The font, everything,” said CommonWealth’s Matthew Hale, the property manager.

Hale plotted the grid on an Excel spreadsheet and worked with CommonWealth Operations Manager Rob Keator on the design and many other colleagues on the execution, which took time and patience.

The first night, Jan. 8, CommonWealth had the tenants shut every blind on the west side of the tower, where employees were stationed to open shades.

“Everyone stayed late,” Hale said, adding no one questioned the non-essential nature of the mission.

Keator, meanwhile, was monitoring the results from West Seattle. This entailed finding just the right spot: the home of longtime West Seattle resident Bob Horton.

“I actually went up and knocked on the door of a complete stranger,” said Keator, who took pictures of the building and sent them back to the building.

The team tweaked the design over the course of three nights with help from passersby in West Seattle. Keator relocated to different spots, including Salty’s on Alki Beach. The restaurant set up a special spot for Keator, who said “all of the guests were all involved in getting [the 12] shaped. I had lots of helpers.”

On the first couple of tries adjusting the shades took around three hours. The team tweaked the project over three nights, and the display was finalized on Jan. 10 the day before the Seahawks’ first playoff game against New Orleans.”

At 2:48pm on January 30th, I got an email from my son that Boeing was flying a “12” pattern over Washington state and I followed the pointer to the Flightaware flight tracking website:

Boeing 747 12 flight pattern

I caught the flight just as the plane was completing the lower right part of the bottom of the “2.” I assumed that it was either a hoax or a small corporate jet. I couldn’t believe it when Geekwire the next day showed photos of the 747 freighter that made its inaugural flight flying the “12.”


For more photos of the Seahawks 747 see the Geekwire article.

“Starbucks’ 12-cent coffee campaign was cool and Microsoft’s on-campus decorations were neat, but it’s safe to say Boeing just might have the most Seahawks passion of any company yet.

We’ve been hearing a few people complain that Boeing is “wasting fuel,” by flying the 747-8 Freighter today in the “12″ pattern. We reached out to Boeing to see if the company had a response, and here’s what they sent:

“This is a Boeing owned airplane that is already being used in test flight. We are sponsors of the Seahawks and have partnered with them for many years for community projects. We’re proud to show our support of the team and their fans across the Northwest.”

Microsoft spelled out their support with their 12th man photo:

Microsoft 12

While Google’s new building is just starting construction, they didn’t want to be left out of the 12th man craziness. So the construction team painted a Seahawks logo at the bottom of the construction pit:

Google construction 12th

In my continuing series of daily flips, the Space Needle jumps into the fray on January 20:

space needle 12 flip“The Seahawks 12th men are everywhere. It is a delight to be experiencing the 12th man flags in all kinds of strange places – from the ferry terminal, to 18 story light patterns on Seattle’s skyscrapers and on that old standby the Space Needle. The many ways of flipping perspective in this photo of the top of the city looking down on Century Link Field, to the green color of the roof as a 50 year celebration of the building of the space needle to all of the people actually standing on the top of the space needle representing the 12th man. What I really like about the change in perspective of the 12th man is the bringing together of the fans and team as one. Instead of just flying a Seahawks logo flag, it is a tribute to the oneness of team and fans. And we are everywhere – whether here in Seattle or the native New Yorkers who are coming out in droves for Super Bowl run. And on Super Bowl Media day the real attraction for me wasn’t the crazed international media but the Seahawk 12th man flag waving and number 12 jerseys of the fans sitting in the stands cheering their “teammates” on. We are ONE of the 12. How cool is that? There are so many ways that the elite athletes are separate from those of us who are mere uncoordinated mortals. Yet the notion of the 12th man brings us all together. It is another way of reaffirming why it is so important to have a live audience cheering the team on. Having sat (well stood, you can’t sit at a Seahawks game) in Century Link field the raw power of the 12th men and women at full roar is something that has to be viscerally experienced. The sound goes right through you. You are unable to hear yourself or even your neighbor. You can only feel the sound vibrating through every part of your body. We won’t be in New York for the Super Bowl but we 12th men will be there in spirit helping the local 12th men shout their support for our collective team.  Go Hawks!!!”

For our finale of 12th man support, what could be better than the Seattle Opera saluting the 12th man at the end of their Rigoletto performance:

A close up view of those Rigoletto performers in their 12th man shirts.

Go Seahawks! Trounce those Broncos.

Seattle 12 skyline

This entry was posted in Content with Context, Curation, Flipped Perspective, Humor, Lifelet, Patterns, Relationship Capital, Sports, User Experience. Bookmark the permalink.

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