Friday, October 17, 2008

Seattle Raging Grannies support Nickelsville

Seattle Raging GranniesEight of the Seattle Raging Grannies (including me) visited Nickelsville today and sang for the Nickelodeons. Some of them sang along with us. I forgot to take my camera! So I can't post a photo of today. In substitute, here's a photo of Seattle Raging Grannies singing at the Nickelsville Die-In, our last community rally before raising Nickelsville.

From the Seattle Raging Grannies:

We support the homeless people of Nickelsville, who are providing shelter and safety for themselves in a hard time.

We admire the courage and compassion of University Christian Church and we thank them for their gift to the community of Seattle, in hosting Nickelsville.

We call on Mayor Nickels to acknowledge the realities of homelessness in Seattle and stop the senseless sweeps of homeless encampments.

The Mayor knows that developers are destroying low-income housing three times faster than it is being created. The Mayor knows that thousands of homeless men, women, and children are left outside after all shelter space in Seattle is full. The Mayor knows that Alan Painter, the head of the Department of Human Services, told the Seattle City Council that all of the shelters are full. The Mayor has no excuse for harassing Nickelsville or its supporters.

The Mayor needs to stop wasting money on harassing homeless encampments, and turn his full energy to real steps to end homelessness. Stop the destruction of low-income housing. Open more emergency shelters. Stop portraying homeless people and advocates as the enemy, and help Seattle come together as a community.

The mission of the Seattle Raging Grannies is to promote global peace, justice, and social and economic equality by raising public awareness through the medium of song and humor.

Two of the songs we sang were written/adapted especially for Nickelsville.

(tune: There is a Tavern in the Town)

There is a rental in this town, in this town,
And there my fam'ly settled down, settled do-o-own.
We ate and slept and played there every day,
And paid our rent so we could stay.

    Fare thee well for we must leave thee.
    Do not let this parting grieve thee.
    Our rent jumped sky high believe me,
    And so we-e mu-ust part.

Adieu, adieu kind friends, adieu, yes, adieu.
We can no longer be with you, be with you.
We'll hang our clothes on a weeping willow tree,
And sleep in Nickelsville for free.


(tune: Back of the Bus)

If you miss me at the front of the bus
You can't find me nowhere
Come on up to the driver's seat
I'll be driving up there.
I'll be driving up there, I'll be driving up there;
Come on up to the driver's seat, I'll be driving up there.

If you're looking for shelter
You can't find it nowhere
Come on up to the greenbelt,
Folks are camping up there.
Folks are camping up there, Folks are camping up there;
Come on up to the greenbelt, Folks are camping up there.

If you miss me in the greenbelt
You can't find me nowhere
Come on over to Nickelsville,
Folks are building up there.
Folks are building up there, Folks are building up there;
Come on over to Nickelsville, Folks are building up there.

If you miss me at Nickelsville
You can't find me nowhere
Come on down to the jailhouse,
We'll be bunking down there.
We'll be bunking down there, We'll be bunking down there;
We'll be bunking down there.

If you miss me at the jailhouse
You can't find me nowhere
That's cause we all stood together,
And we're still building up there!
We're still building up there!
We're still building up there!
That's cause we all stood together,
And we're still building up there!

Sing On!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The "litmus test" question

In both the Presidential debate and the Washington State gubernatorial debate tonight, the candidates were asked about future court appointments.

Whoever is governor 2009-2012 will be appointing a replacement for Judge Gerry Alexander when he retires.  The first question of Gregoire and Rossi was: "Who's on your list to replace Gerry Alexander?  Will you have a litmus test?"

The Presidential candidates were asked a similar question during their debate: would they consider appointing a Supreme Court judge whom they do not agree with on some issues -- like abortion and same-sex marriage?

I was annoyed by how everybody answered this question.  Everybody falls over themselves to affirm, "I would never apply a litmus test, I will appoint the most qualified person."

Of course all appointees should be the most qualified persons available.  And one of the qualifications for the position of Supreme Court judge (on state or federal level) is commitment to the constitution.

The following are fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution:
  • All rights and powers originate in the people. 
  • Government, at any level,  can only exercised the rights and powers explicitly granted by the people.
Ergo, any person who says, "The right of privacy is not established in the constitution" is not qualified to be a judge.

To some extent both liberals and conservatives recognize the existence of a "public sphere" in which our interactions with each other can be legislated and adjudicated, and a "private sphere" in which government should not intrude. We may disagree on where the line is drawn, but for any conservative to deny the existence of a private sphere contradicts everything they say about why government should be limited.

As I see it, a judge who would consider it constitutional for government to regulate sex and reproduction, and who would authorize the state to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term against her will, is not qualified for the position.  That would be an honest answer from Gregoire or Obama -- and Obama, at least, did bury a recognition of that in the midst of "oh no I wouldn't."

And an honest answer from Rossi or McCain would be that they believe that constitutional principles were violated in the Roe vs Wade decision, and therefore any judge who would not overturn Roe vs Wade is not qualified for the position -- and McCain did bury a recognition of that in the midst of "oh no I wouldn't."

I would have been a lot happier if they were direct about it.  I would be a whole lot happier if our Washington governor candidates were even close to that direct.

B.C. court rules that homeless people can camp in city parks

Survival is a human right. The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled Tuesday (October 14) that, with insufficient capacity in Victoria's shelters, a bylaw forbidding homeless people from setting up tents and sleeping in city parks deprives homeless people of life, liberty and security in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

w00t! Good news for Nickelsville!

I just learned a new word while reading the comments on Tim's blog today.

Tim always blogs much more actively than I do, and he's been posting a LOT on the Nickelsville saga. His most recent post reports some good news I had already heard: the United Indians of All tribes dropped off a letter stating full support of Nickelsville. w00t!

Also w00t! - Human Services manager Alan Painter admitted in an open City Council meeting on Friday that shelters are full. To a direct question on that from a Councilmember, he said yes, they are full, and when they aren't it's only due to special circumstances.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Anitra 'Many Hats' Freeman, WHEEL, and the Women's Funding Alliance

Today was the King County Combined Federal Campaign 2008 Public Sector Employee Campaign and Recognition Kickoff Event.

Say that six times fast.

Like almost everybody else I know, I am a member of several organizations. One of them is WHEEL (Women's Housing, Equality and Enhancement League). (Aren't you glad you don't have to say that six times fast, you can just say "WHEEL"?) WHEEL is a member of the Women's Funding Alliance, a funding and support federation of 21 agencies serving women and girls in the Puget Sound region. As a small grassroots group of homeless and formerly homeless women organizing our own programs with the assistance of one staff member, what we get through WFA is a major part of our funding. Networking with other federation members is also invaluable; a few years ago, we worked together with the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence to protect the privacy of women in emergency homeless shelters during government data-gathering.

One of our obligations in return for the funding and support we get from WFA is to participate in events like today; staffing the table in a big, big fair and saying approximately 5,000 times fast, "We are homeless and formerly homeless women organizing our own programs. We are a federation member of the Women's Funding Alliance. For small grassroots groups like ours, the funding and support we get from the Women's Funding Alliance is critical."

Good thing I'm almost over that cold.

The doors opened at 11 AM and I had given out all but one of my WHEEL flyers by 1 PM. I kept one; since WHEEL doesn't have a website right now, here's the contents of the current WHEEL flyer:

WHEEL: Women's Housing, Equality and Enhancement League

The Women's Housing, Equality and Enhancement League (WHEEL) is a non-profit and non-hierarchical group of homeless and formerly homeless women working on ending homelessness for women. WHEEL is all about homelessness and action.

WHEEL is the women-only, women-concerned sister organization to SHARE (Seattle Housing and Resource Effort). Both WHEEL and SHARE provide self-managed shelters--including tent cities.

WHEEL works to get women out of the places where they have been hiding, recognize each woman as an individual and involve women in the process of improving programs and creating new programs for their own needs.

WHEEL's goals are to give voice and leadership to homeless women, to organize campaigns around increased services and safety for women, and to develop and support self-managed shelters.

Since 1993, WHEEL has initiated many campaigns that have improved the lives of all women. our efforts have included:

  • Pushing for longer hours at shelters and drop-in centers
  • Moving the entrance to DESC from "Crack Alley" to Third Avenue
  • Holding yearly Homeless Women's Forums, community gatherings, since 1995
  • Establishing new shelters, day programs, meal projects and housing for women... including the County Winter Women's Shetler, Meal of Fortune, and Dorothy Day House
Current Projects:

Women in Black silent witnessing vigils whenever a homeless person dies outside or by violence in King County. We have stood for 34 people so far in 2008.

Homeless Place of Remembrance, a public place to honor homeless people who have died. We have worked with church and community leaders for the past five years, and are now working with designers toward siting this project in Victor Steinbrueck Park.

Tent City3 is a self-managed camp of 100 homeless women, men and couples which rotates among churches/spaces mostly in Seattle.

Tent City4 is a 100-person self-managed camp in suburban Seattle, mostly on the Eastside.

Shelter for Women: This year there has been a severe lack of shelter for homeless women. our current projecgs and campaigns include: WHEEL's Severe Weather Shelter for Women, open during the worst winter weather, and Organizing for Provision of More Shelter for Women.

The Women's Empowerment Center is a self-managed day organizing, arts and education center for women.

The Dorothy Day Group works for more housing, food, dignity and power among homeless women. we currently have two projects: Sandwichmaking and distributing sandwiches at Westlake Park, and producing and distributing our own newsletter, The Occasional Times.

WHEEL Schedule:

Women's Empowerment Center
Sundays, 8:30 AM--1:30 PM
Hammond House (2nd & Stewart)
Trainings, workshops, educational and fun activities and lunch!

The Occasional Times Newsletter
Mondays 10 AM--Noon
Writing and publication meetings rotate between Angeline's and the WHEEL Office.

Weekly Organizing Meeting
Mondays 2 PM, with refreshments, at the WHEEL office (1902 Second Avenue)
Strategizing meetings for WHEEL--everyone has a voice and a vote

Breakfast and Education Project
Thursdays 8:30 AM--11:30 AM
Antioch University (6th & Battery)
A collaborative effort of WHEEL, the Sisters Project and Antioch, this program offers breakfast, workshops, and activities.

Women in Black
Wednesdays noon--1 Pm as needed
Municipal Courthouse, 5th & James
We notify people by phone/email when a death has occurred.

Homeless Women's Forum
Community celebration/platform raising held each November.


Since 1993, WHEEL has been working in partnerhip with other groups and individuals in one of the most unique programs in Seattle, or indeed in the country. All homeless and formerly homeless women are invited to any of our meetings.

Anyone can help in the following ways:
  • Join us at Women in Black vigils when a homeless person dies outside or by violence. Call (206) 956-0334 to join our notification list.
  • Does your church have room to host an indoor shelter or tent City? Do you know of other possible hosts? Call (206) 448-7889.
  • Join our Homeless Place of Remembrance Planning Committee, which meets on the third Wednesday of each month at the Josephinum (1902 2nd Avenue).
  • Our Women's Empowerment Center needs volunteers to help teach various skills classes, and art supplies for our writing and arts programs.
  • Contributions for general operating expenses and for special efforts are always welcome. WHEEL is a tax-deductible 502(c)3 program and a federation memebr agency in the Women's Funding Alliance.
  • Call us to discuss other ways to help!
Mailing Address:
PO Box 2548
Seattle WA 98111-2548

Street Address:
1902 Second Avenue (& Stewart)
2nd Floor, Josephinum

Phone: (206) 956-0334
Fax: (206) 448-2389

I did all that typing down here at the Real Change offices, where I am a member of the Editorial Committee and also teach writing and computer skills to homeless and low-income adults in a workshop format called StreetWrites. StreetWrites hours start at 5:30 PM, and when I checked in here at 2:30 PM, after the Convention Place gig, I didn't expect I could go home, nap, and get back by StreetWrites time. My Official Sweetie, Dr. Wes, observes (often) that I have no conception of the physics of space and time: I attempt to walk through physical objects if I am thinking about anything at all else, and frequently try to schedule three simultaneous events at once, in separate locations. But occasionally, I do get it right. It's now 4:40 PM. I just have time to put my personal hat on, and eat dinner.

Legal status of Nickelsville: update

Turns out that UIATF (United Indians of All Tribes Foundation) leases the 20 acres that Daybreak Star is on from the City of Seattle. The federal government deeded land that used to be Fort Lawton to the City of Seattle, on condition that the City lease 20 acres of it to the UIATF.

The City contends that the lease requires the UIATF to abide by city land use codes, and that hosting Nickelsville would be a violation of those codes. The posted 72-hour "Notice to Remove" signs Thursday afternoon. The Northwest Justice Project has filed an injunction on Nickelsville's behalf, and the City has agreed to hold off on sweeping Nickelsville until after the court hearing Monday morning.

I was not at the legal meeting this afternoon, between NJP and Nickelsville, so I don't know what arguments they are actually using. From my own experience (not as a lawyer, but as a party involved in some relevant court cases) these are the arguments I think could be used:

  1. The showdown between UIATF and the City over the People's Lodge established that, as Bernie Whitebear stated at the time, "We have the development and the administrative authority over our property."

  2. The King County Court decision in 2001 that the City of Seattle has been wrong in denying a permit for El Centro de la Raza to host Tent City 3 established that a homeless encampment does not automatically violate land use codes.

  3. A) Churches have the constitutional right to host homeless shelters or encampments on their property, and local governments have only the authority to establish reasonable health and safety standards for those uses. This has been well-established in court.
    B) Surely Native Americans have an equal right on their property.
We'll all find out on Monday morning. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nickelsville now on tribal land inside Discovery Park

Nickelsville has moved to tribal land! 75 tents are now up in Discovery Park, beside Daybreak Star Cultural Center on land that belongs to the United Indians of All Tribes.

Nickels was threatening to fine the state $150 a day for violation of land use codes if they allowed us to stay any longer on state land. Now that we are on Indian land, will he threaten the United Indians of All Tribes, or the federal government? Stay tuned...

Personally, I've had a sore throat/chest cold since Saturday, so I haven't camped out in the parking lot yet. I was out at the parking-lot site briefly today, then went back home to bed.

Seattle Raging Grannies had been planning to do a performance down at Nickelsville tonight, and I'd printed up song sheets; then we decided that the Nickelodeons seemed busy, and it might be best to come back after they were settled in the new site. Since I wasn't able to speak more than two sentences without my throat seizing up, I was actually relieved that I didn't have to sing. I gave out the song sheets to Nickelodeons, I'll print up more later.

I got up a couple hours ago; the news started posting to Google about 11. I have a WHEEL meeting at 10 AM; I'll find out more then.

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