A little compare & contrast never hurts when figuring out what works and what doesn't. Seattle and Vancouver have a light rivalry of a sorts - both have similar ideas about what constitutes civic virtue - that can make such a thing useful.
Knute Berger at Crosscut has a report on a meeting that put one up against the other, the spokesmen being Seattle council member Peter Steinbrueck and Vancouver council member Gordon Price - each speaking up for the other city. Some of the points of praise were interesting (and notably, the points of praise for Bellevue, which tends to get more than its due share of knocks from the other side of the water).
It's all worthwhile. Here's a slice for flavor:
Price praised Seattle as a "great American city," which made folks in the audience laugh, apparently thinking the word "American" was a qualifier, as "great for an American city." But Price, wearing an American flag tie, quickly corrected the impression. Vancouver, he said, has not nearly had the impact on Canada that Seattle has had on America, or Canada for that matter. Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Costco: these are Seattle originals that have been widely influential in a way Vancouver is not and never has been.
On the other hand, Steinbrueck rates Vancouver much higher on the livability scale, in part because the city's more consistent and integrated planning has resulted in a denser, more people-oriented city that is more family friendly than Seattle and has a larger slice of its middle class living in the core. In short, for all of Seattle's protectiveness on livability, Vancouver is doing a better job.