It’s been a long winter in terms of the weather. Seattle tv stations reported that between October 2016 and March 2017 there were only three sunny, mild days! We’ve all been feeling it. That’s one reason our Capitol Hill Neighborhood Action Coalition took a chance and had our first outdoor meeting in Cal Anderson Park this week.
The park is extremely popular when it’s sunny. It’s one of the main parks in the neighborhood, only a few blocks from our apartment. It’s named after the late Cal Anderson, Washington state’s first openly gay state legislator who served in both the state House and Senate. It’s the same park where Nick and I gathered with thousands of our neighbors, the governor, and mayor in the hours after 50 people were murdered inside an Orlando gay nightclub in June 2016. It’s also the park where our neighbors came together only one day after the election in November 2016 to begin forming what would become NAC.
During this week’s meeting, we sat and stood in a circle on blankets and wearing coats because it was still chilly. This is what it looked like while Daniel wrote our group’s ideas as we discussed the vision of NAC.
After the meeting, Daniel and a few other of our neighbors walked around the park and talked with people who were just outside enjoying the day—telling them about NAC and finding out what issues they are most concerned about.
Here are the notes Daniel wrote on what our neighbors said about their concerns for our community and city. I’ve typed everything here verbatim because I think it’s telling of the place in Seattle’s history that we find ourselves:
“Too expensive/not nice looking.”
“No new buildings until we figure it out.”
“They need more input from people who live here on development and how it looks.”
“You have to work for a corporation to be able to live here and that is not in line with Seattle ethos.”
“They need to cater to the people who created the culture here.”
“The homeless problem.”
“Starbucks ban–no more of them.”
“Gentrification is pushing artists out.”
“Landlords are adding pet rent into base rent.”
“Lower income people can’t afford security deposits.”
“No resources for being involved in the development of our neighborhood.”
“Public space–being allowed to exist.”
“Too much private property.”
“Not enough space to play.”
“Finding affordable food–prices keep going up.”
Virtually everyone in Seattle recognizes that homelessness is at crisis level in our city. Only days after our NAC heard the above responses about neighborhood concerns, officials were sweeping homeless folks out of their community again. The Seattle Weekly reported:
“This morning, Seattle authorities evicted an encampment of tents, campers, makeshift structures and RVs beneath the east side of the West Seattle Bridge. A camp resident and a city spokesperson both estimate that about 40 people are being displaced by the sweep, out of the hundreds of campers who live beneath and along the bridge/overpass. The city has not offered campers an alternative site.”
I showed you another homeless camp sweep that I witnessed several weeks ago. I did not see this most recent sweep in-person, but a man who’s running for Seattle City Council Position 8 was there to stand in solidarity with community members the day before the sweep. His name is Jon Grant:
I’ve talked about the City Council Position 8 race before. I went to the campaign launch for Sheley Secrest, I’ve met Mac McGregor and heard friends talk about other candidates Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant.
Less than one week prior to this homeless camp sweep, I’d gone to a barnstorm for Jon Grant’s campaign to learn more. I was immediately impressed by his campaign’s ambition to stand up to developers. I’ve also been impressed with his expertise on the homeless and housing crisis and his experience working years in the trenches for tenants’ rights. Here are pictures I took at that campaign event:
Grant spoke for about two minutes, then everyone got into groups with neighbors from their council districts to discuss our concerns. Our District 3 concerns looked like this:
The barnstorm ended with people signing up to door-knock on specific upcoming weekend days all the way through June. His campaign appears extremely organized and ready to win. It might be partly because Grant ran for this same position two years ago, but lost to the incumbent who had tons of money. Grant is not taking corporate money and is running his campaign mostly on Seattle’s new democracy vouchers, which I discussed in a previous post.
Something to note, this is a citywide council race. Only two of the nine council seats are elected citywide, the others are elected in specific districts only. This year only the two citywide council seats are up for grabs. And, Grant’s race is the only one without an incumbent.
I’m now excited for Grant’s race and I want him to win. We need people who are going to stand up and fight for average folks in our city government, not more politicians whose pockets are lined with money from developers. Grant’s campaign pointed out that developers will always have enough money and power, we need politicians who will stand up to them and protect average folks so that our city can be more liveable and diverse. Grant seems like the candidate who will fight hardest and he also seems the most expert on pressing issues.
I was so inspired by his campaign that today after work I’m meeting one-on-one with his campaign Field Director. I’ve also signed up to do door-knocking for his campaign in different parts of the city the next two weekends.
Everything I’ve just told you about has happened under the shadow of the biggest story in our city right now, the scandal involving our mayor. The story took a dramatic and head-spinning turn this week when the mayor’s lawyer held a news conference to discuss a doctor’s examination of the mayor’s penis and testicles. I am not even joking. Here’s part of what The Seattle Times wrote:
This week a scorching editorial from The Seattle Times, our city’s main newspaper, called for the mayor to stop his bid for re-election. Here was the headline:
Still, as of my writing, the mayor says he intends to continue his re-election campaign and stay in office. This is a picture I took (since my last writing) of The Seattle Times in our favorite coffee shop a couple blocks from us:
Here are other headlines I’ve seen come across my phone this week from The Washington Post. This Republican administration seems to be igniting conflict in all corners of the world. We are very concerned.