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Entries from September 2009

SHARE protesters will camp out in front of Councilmember Burgess’ home again tonight

September 30th, 2009 by Thea

Homeless men and women from SHARE (Seattle House and Resource Effort) camped outside of City Councilmember Tim Burgess’ Queen Anne home last night and the organization has just announced that protesters will return to his house again tonight. After camping outside of Mayor Nickels’ West Seattle home on Monday night and having the opportunity to speak face to face with Councilmember Burgess outside his home yesterday, the group said they were able to straighten out some misinformation and will return in the hopes that tonight’s repeat performance will bolster awareness even more.

In a press release sent out just after 10 a.m. this morning they wrote:

For the second night in a row, the homeless men and women of SHARE are sleeping outside of City Councilman Burgess’ house.

Last night’s sleepout protest was a far cry from Monday. First and foremost, there were no police cruisers posted outside of Mr. Burgess’ house. Apparently, the powers that be realized what a waste of taxpayers money it was to assign 6 police cars to watch people protesting peacefully. A few SHARE participants also had the opportunity to talk at length with Councilman Burgess. It seems that he was under the mistaken impression that the offer of a $50,000 advance on our regular funding was with no strings attached. He was not aware that we would have had to promise not to close down our shelters if/when that money ran out during the coldest months of the year. Mr. Burgess also told us that he would look into the matter. It seems that finally, the correct information is starting to come forward.

SHARE is a grass roots organization of poor people empowered by our system of self management. We provide more than 500 shelter beds every night in 15 indoor shelters and 2 tent cities. The City funds us only in the amount of $300,000.   Meanwhile, the City spends $400,000 a year on its Roy Street shelter which only houses up to 50 people. You do the math…

The sad reality is that unsheltered people die outside. So far this year, the Women in Black stood for 29 homeless people who died outside or by violence.

Until enough affordable housing is available, interim survival mechanisms such as the SHARE shelters and Tent Cities—and also Nickelsville–are necessary.

The reality of our sleepout is that it is not political in nature. It is about survival of the poorest in our community.

But despite the organizations claim that their cause is not a political one, but rather a social issue, many disagree. One reader, SorryButNo, commented on last night’s story against the SHARE/WHEEL protests. They wrote,

They already receive $300,000 from the city, and are using this media event to extort more money from the city in a time of dire financial crises. Just say no, Seattle.

SHARE/WHEEL has long ago moved away from its mission to help the homeless, and has instead moved into political activism, at the expense of the very people it is supposed to help. They have people who have been living in tent cities for YEARS. They have become a con game, and a haven for scam artists.

Other groups are far more effective in assisting the homeless. Donate your time and sympathy to them.

According to SHARE, the group did receive $300,000 from the city for the 2009 year, money which they say ran out when the Metro bus fare went up, rendering them unable to provide around 16,000 bus tickets for their 500+ members. With protesters returning to Upper Queen Anne for the second night in a row tonight, we’d like to hear what you think. Comment or email us at tips@queenanneview.com

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Homeless community members and activists camp outside councilmember’s home hoping for the funding needed to keep their shelter alive

September 30th, 2009 by Thea

At around 8 p.m. last night some 40 homeless men and women set up camp outside Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess‘ Upper Queen Anne home in peaceful protest. They are members of the homeless-advocacy group SHARE/WHEEL (Seattle House and Resource Effort and Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League), the same group that protested by sleeping outside Mayor Greg Nickels’ West Seattle home on Monday night as a plea for additional funding for their program.

SHARE is local non-profit that helps 500+ homeless people find housing every night at one of their 14 self-managed shelters and two Tent Cities, providing services like Metro bus passes so that members have a reliable and safe means of transportation from shelter to shelter or to and from their work every day. The organization had applied to the city for $50,000 in additional funding to support the bus tickets, but said their application “Mysteriously disappeared in the Mayor’s office and never made it in front of the City Council to be voted upon,” in a press release earlier this week. Without additional financial support SHARE said it must take “direct action” to keep the shelter program alive, and has pledged to continue their protests on a nightly basis until their “financial crisis has been solved and the solution of purchasing bus tickets is found.”

Despite the rain, participants lined up on the grass beside the sidewalk and built beds out of mats, tarps and plastic garbage bags used to cover their belongings and keep them dry through the night. Most of the protesters settled on the opposite side of the street, although a few set up in front of the homes on either side of Burgess’.

The majority of the protesters are from Tent City 3, a temporary encampment of up to 100 homeless people that began in 2000. TC3 is currently located at All Saints Episcopal Church, located at 5150 S. Cloverdale, in Rainier Beach. (Last night and tonight members of different shelters have taken turns protesting. Last night’s camp out was comprised of primarily Tent City 4 residents, which began in 2004 on the Eastside). Steve Friberg, Thomas Bolander and Darlene Kembitskey (pictured below, left to right) are all TC3 residents who were participating in last night’s camp out.

All three said that they hoped to have the opportunity to discuss the vital role bus tickets play for homeless men and women with Councilmember Burgess.

“It’s really important because a lot of people are trying to find jobs and housing and you can’t get around without it,” Bolander said.

“He said that he’d be more than happy to speak with a couple of members,” said, Friberg, who is the Camp Advisor to Tent City 3 and serves as liaison between the SHARE staff and the five TC3 committee members. According to Friberg, although the protesters were around 40 at the beginning of the night, they were anticipating the arrival of another group in the event that they were unable to find a ride to their shelters.

“We’ve approached the bus drivers as a group and asked for rides,” he said. “If the bus driver says yes, they get on the bus and ride. If the bus driver says something else, they get off the bus and call us up and we arrange a ride to get them here.”

Friberg is just one of many who can attest to the need for SHARE’s shelter program. He joined SHARE two years ago after breaking his ankle, an injury that rendered him unable to work until healed.

“If it wasn’t for Tent City, I’d be bad off. They took me in. I’m back to the point where I can work, but unfortunately I’m a carpenter, and there’s not a lot of work for carpenters right now,” he said. “Without additional funding, we won’t be able to purchase any more tickets.”

And so, with no bus passes to help him look for work, Friberg is protesting. And he is not alone. 45-year-old Irish Kelly, a native or Orlando, Fla., had a place to stay tonight, but instead he chose to weather the wind the rain with other protesters for the second time (he also participated in Monday night’s protests).

Kelly (speaking about his experience in the above video) is an activist with Food Not Bombs, an international grassroots movement that aims to feed the hungry and protest war. He has been living in Western Washington for the last four weeks. Kelly stays at one of SHARE/WHEEL’s host churches in the University District and says the accommodations are both safe and comfortable.

“We’re in by 7 [p.m.] and out by 7 [a.m.] and we leave the place exactly the way we found it,” he said. “Every day I get a bus pass to get to and from.”

Kelly said he plans on staying in SHARE shelters, if he can, until he leaves Seattle in two months. He believes so strongly in the program, he thinks the city should not only find the money to support it, but that it should be expanded to the rest of the country.

“It’s great! They don’t have this on the East Coast,” he said.

And waiting to fund SHARE with money from the 2010 budget won’t help the 500+ members who are on the streets today.

“They wanted to give us money from next year’s budget, so these people would have been out here anyway,” Kelly said.

Lantz Rowland (above, left) has been a TC3 resident for years. Unlike protest opposition who have said the camp out is invasive, he is of the mindset that a peaceful protest, where participants are making a conscious effort to call attention to their cause without disturbing the neighborhood, will help garner support.

“This isn’t about causing trouble. It’s a civil protest,” he said. “SHARE’s indoor shelters are the cheapest and most cost effective, and we’re housing more people than anybody else…It’s SHARE’s indoor shelters that we’re supporting here. At SHARE shelters we always promise that we’re going to leave the neighborhoods in the morning, and to do that the bus ticket is critical.”

The $50,000 the organization is asking for, would break down to around $100 a person, a small price worth fighting for for the hundreds of lives it improves daily.

“Share is all run by participants. The staff in SHARE can’t vote and can’t veto votes,” Rowland said, explaining that Tent City and shelter participants protest because there are very few bodies who will speak for them.

Tent City 3 will move from its current home in Rainier Beach on Saturday, October 24 to the new site across town at St. George Episcopal in Lake City. Rowland is currently organizing a Facebook campaign to gather support for housing TC3 at the University of Washington Seattle campus in the future, a push supported by student organization Students for Civic Engagement on Homelessness. And, with locations changing every 90 days, SHARE’s need for reliable transportation is only greater.

“Our budget didn’t have any fat to be cutting off,” Rowland said. “We don’t have a $120,000 a year director. The money we use goes to where we need it.”

Among the protesters present last night were three legal observers wearing bright green hats with the words “National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer” printed in large type on the front. They declined to comment, saying they were not supposed to speak with the media.

SHARE staffer Carolyn was passing out large pieces of paper that were slightly damp from the rain and markers, encouraging protesters to make signs and hold them up as cars drive by. “You could write ‘I’d rather be in my shelter tonight,’ or ‘Am I not worth $100?’ she suggested to one young woman, named Elise. When asked if she was staying the whole night, she responded “For the most part.”

In the morning, she and the other protesters will pack up and leave. According to Friberg, SHARE’s committee members, who are all democratically elected amongst the homeless community the organization serves, will meet tomorrow to decide the next course of action and if, and where, the next protest will be.

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There’s still time to nominate local park heros for a Denny Award

September 30th, 2009 by Thea

City parks rely on the dedicated volunteers contribute their time and effort to keep the public parks clean, and available for everyone to enjoy. So why not nominate active members in your community parks for the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department’s 6th Annual Denny Awards?

The Denny Awards acknowledge and honor the crucial role volunteers play in neighborhood parks, community centers, and recreation programs throughout the city. Volunteers help Parks and Recreation staff and management in the work of the department and give valuable advice on important decisions about our Parks and Recreation facilities and operations. Volunteers pull ivy and plant native trees in our parks, coach kids’ sports, work as docents at selected parks and the Seattle Aquarium, and serve on various advisory councils and boards

The awards are named for Seattle pioneers the Denny family, who were dedicated to preserving park land and open space for the public. David and Louisa Denny donated land for the first Seattle park, Denny Park, in 1884 (it was originally donated to the city in 1864 as a cemetery, being rededicated as a public park almost 20 years later).

Minimum qualifications for Denny Award nominees are:

  • Demonstrated exceptional stewardship to parks and/or recreation;
  • Provided stellar leadership related to enhancing and preserving parks and/or recreation programs;
  • Demonstrated a significant personal commitment of time and effort to assist the Seattle Parks and Recreation department; and
  • Gained respect of community peers for efforts to help Seattle Parks and Recreation.

The award nomination form deadline was originally this Thursday, October 1, but has been extended to next Wednesday, October 7. Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, November 17.

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See how local homes and businesses conserve at the Seattle Solar Tour this Saturday

September 30th, 2009 by Thea

It may be raining, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the Seattle Solar Tour this Saturday, October 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 30 homes and businesses are showing how they conserve energy and harness both sun and rain. There are a Queen Anne homes and businesses on the list, including the McCaw Performance Hall at Seattle Center, a Seattle City Light “Green Power” project. See a list of participating homes here, with links to maps and directions.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently designated Seattle as one of 25 Solar America Cities. According to Seattle City Light, only about two dozen customers had solar electric installations in 2005, a number that has since climbed to about 200 residential and business customers.

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Homelessness activists camped outside Mayor Nickels’ house last night, tonight they’re coming to Councilmember Burgess’ Queen Anne home

September 29th, 2009 by Thea

Last night some 50 homeless men and women, members of the homeless-advocacy group SHARE (Seattle House and Resource Effort) camped outside Mayor Greg Nickels’ West Seattle home in peaceful protest of the city’s denial of funding for bus passes used to get from shelter to shelter. (See the West Seattle Blog coverage here). Tonight they’ll be bunking down on top of the hill, in front of Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess‘ home starting at 8 p.m.

The video above is from the West Seattle Blog’s coverage of last night’s protest outside Mayor Nickels’ home.

SHARE, a grassroots organization, helps 400-500 homeless people organize together and find housing each night at one of their 14 self-managed shelters and two Tent Cities. In a press release sent out prior to last night’s protest, the organization explained that last year they submitted a request for additional funding from the City for bus tickets for their members so that they could travel between shelters, service organizations and tent cities safely. On September 22, their bus fare money ran out. Here is what they wrote:

A year ago, SHARE, a grassroots sheltering and organizing effort of homeless people, submitted a green sheet asking for additional funding from the City. Our green sheet mysteriously disappeared in the Mayor’s office and never made it in front of the City Council to be voted upon!

The politicians failed to heed SHARE’s pleas for an additional $50,000 in funding to keep 500 men and women going to and from their shelters with bus tickets. This is only $100 per person and shows the overt contempt the City Officials have for homeless people.

Our elected officials are inept in more ways than one especially when it comes to practicing the three tenets of good government (Justice, Compassion, Common Sense). They are more likely to respond to corporate pleas for bailouts than to the needs of the poor.

$50,000 is a ridiculously low amount of money for a City which wastes millions of dollars on a useless computer tracking survey and is wasting 1.6 Million bailing out an underused and useless light rail.

Apparently our leaders are more interested in monitoring homeless people’s activities than in keeping them together and safe at low cost.

Our shelters cost less than 3 dollars a night compared to the City “sweeps” shelter which costs over 21 dollars a night

Having been ignored, this leaves us with no other choice but to close down our shelters due to lack of transportation and sleep outside of the Mayor’s and the City Council members’ houses.

All we can say is SHAME!!!
(206) 448-7889

According to SHARE, all neighborhood bus shelters except one got to their safe places without a bus ticket, due to the kindness of city bus drivers. (The organization is keeping a tally of member riders who are given transport to their shelters without bus tickets so that they may reimburse METRO as soon as funds are available). Those who cannot get to their shelters will spend the night outside Councilmember Burgess’ home.

The protests were planned at a SHARE meeting on Monday morning (see Seattle Post Globe coverage here), in an attempt to take direct action and alleviate homelessness in Seattle.

Queen Anne View will be covering the protest tonight, so check back for updates.

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Library changing borrowing policy, fines & fees

September 29th, 2009 by Thea

Beginning on October 15th, The Seattle Public Library will be making some changes to its borrowing policy and adding/changing fines and fees on some items.

The number of items you can check out will drop from 100 to 50, meaning in order to check out more books you must have less than 50 library items out. The number of holds you may have is also dropping to 25. “Cardholders won’t lose unfilled holds, but won’t be able to place more holds until the total is below 25,” according to the bookmark being handed out. If you want to borrow a book from a different library system, it will cost $5 (fee does not apply to items owned by SPL). Items designated for kids twelve and under will start accruing late fees. Daily fines will be fifteen cents per day per item.

The SPL board of trustees revised these policies (.pdf) to “address the high demand for limited library books and other items during tough economic times, continue to provide quality service with a constrained budget, maximize the circulation of books and other items for all customers and bring borrowing limits and fees in line with other library systems.”

Last month the entire library system took a week-long furlough to help with budget cuts.

This story first appeared on My Ballard.

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Mompreneur makes ends meet…by moving out

September 29th, 2009 by Heidi

When Jill Dickinson’s husband finished his last job contract, she wanted to prepare for the worse-case scenario.  With two young children and a mortgage to pay, the Queen Anne mom began thinking of ways she could help make ends meet.  Then one night it hit her in her sleep.  The next day she posted an ad on Craigslist that read ”3 Bedroom CRAFTSMAN HOME for rent in heart of QUEEN ANNE”.

Packin' Shoes

By the end of the week, Jill had received ten inquiries about her house and by the end of the month she and her family were moving out for two weeks - and moving in with her mom in Federal Way.  Turning their full-time residence into a part-time rental has since become a regular money-making opportunity.

Packing

So far there haven’t been any problems with renters staying in their home. The only odd incident was with one family who moved all the furniture around and took everything down from the walls. Other than that, Jill doesn’t worry too much about people taking things. Instead, she takes pride in her shabby chic style. “Everything is replaceable, at least in my world.”

Empty Fridge

A week before renters move in, Jill starts getting cupboards “down to the nitty gritty” so there’s no worries about their food being eaten.  A rental agreement and up-front payment accompany her landlord instincts.

Cleaning couch

Each move usually means two days of having to “clean every little thing”, including blankets, comforters, and even the couches.  Jill and her husband also make sure life stays normal for their kids, too.  That means tennis lessons with dad every morning before school, with or without a commute.

Jill says that moving the family out just feels like going away for a long weekend and, financially, it’s absolutely worth it.  Renting out their house has been so successful that since their initial move four months ago, the family has vacated nine times.  Jill only rents out the house for a minimum 3-night stay, and rates start at $200 a night and $1200 weekly.  She has lots of tips on how to do it yourself on her website www.mombite.com.

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Students at The Center School will unveil the Washinton State Student Bill of Rights tomorrow

September 29th, 2009 by Thea

Students, parents and community members at The Center School will unveil the Washington State Student Bill of Rights at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30, on the rooftop of the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. In a public address students will ask the most important question facing educational policy makers today: Does a Washington State high school diploma enable every high school graduate to pursue and complete college or job training and attain a living-wage job in order to succeed in life?

A petition, written for students, by students, the Washington State Student Bill of Rights outlines the eight fundamental rights students say they are all entitled to get them Ready for Life – a campaign by the League of Education Voters that works to ensure that every high school graduate has the opportunity and access to college and/or job training so that they may have a fulfilling and successful life.

The Washington State Student Bill of Rights launch event will kick off with student artist from The Center School putting the on final touches of an 8 x 8 foot mural of the Bill of Rights they designed, and a spoken word performance by Youth Speaks.

After introducing the Bill of Rights, students will be given the opportunity to speak out about the importance of student-activism in improving schools on a grassroots level. President of the Seattle School Board Michael DeBell will then talk about the power and opportunity students have in engaging and improving their education. A Q&A will follow.

The Fisher Pavilion is located at 305 Harrison St, on Thomas St. between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

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Aurora Bridge closures continue tomorrow

September 28th, 2009 by Thea

The Seattle Department of Transportation crews were repairing an expansion joint on the Aurora Bridge today, and aren’t quite finished, so they’ll be back out there again tomorrow, Tuesday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The right-hand, northbound lane will be closed for these repairs, weather permitting. If it rains, the work will be rescheduled for another day. Either way, expect some slowdowns.

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Drivers in Fremont enjoyed ‘Bridge Talks Back’

September 28th, 2009 by Thea

Saturday drivers lucky enough to be stuck while the Fremont Bridge went up, were in for a little artistic (and musical) surprise – “Bridge Talks Back,” the result of artist Kristen Ramirez’ summer-long residency inside the northeast tower of the Fremont Bridge.

Between 1 and 4 p.m. on Saturday participants joined in with signs and live music to celebrate the the Fremont Bridge through a sound art project that honors the historic Bridge through all of its daily rhythm and noises. Literally: Ramirez recorded sounds from the bridge (cars, horns, birds, bells, etc.) and played them over the sound speakers, while sixteen different horn players played live from the bridge’s four towers.

Get the full story at Fremont Universe.

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Queen Anne blackout caused by junction box failure

September 28th, 2009 by Thea

Roberto Bonaccorso from Seattle City Light just sent me an email with the most up to date information the city has on what caused last night’s power outages in Queen Anne and Magnolia. He writes,

What we (City Light) know at this point is that a planned repair in an underground vault near the Seattle Center was completed on schedule early Saturday morning. In order to prepare a test of the repair, power for the Center was diverted to an alternate feeder (a feeder is a big line that transmits power to large areas of the city).

At that point, a junction box failed on the alternate feeder. Power was switched to a second alternate feeder in order to identify what repairs needed to be made. On Sunday, we had a failure on this second alternate feeder at another location.

Crews were sent out to isolate the problem and our switching operators were able to restore power to customers using multiple feeders. Meanwhile repairs are ongoing to the original junction box and failed cable.

At this time power has been restored to all affected by last night’s outages in Queen Anne and Magnolia. According to Bonaccorso there is no estimate for the completion of the original repairs.

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Pictures from Saturday’s Fishermen’s Fall Festival

September 28th, 2009 by Thea

The survival suit race was only one of the festivities at Saturday’s Fishermen’s Fall Festival at Fisherman’s Terminal. See more pictures at Magnolia Voice.

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