Hella Bus Blog
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On Tuesday night, we went to the ACT Theater to see Hold These Truths, a play about Gordon Hirabayashi, one of the few people who resisted against Japanese internment during WWII. The show forced us to confront some uncomfortable truths – the failure of our country to uphold its values, the gross hypocrisy of our government leaders, and the human toll of all of this on Japanese Americans. It was about principles, and more importantly, the courage of the man who maintained them, even in the face of extreme difficulty and injustice. The play allowed me to reflect on my own values, and whether I would uphold them during such difficult times.
Recently, the International District lost a beloved community leader and hero, Donnie Chin. Much like Hirabayashi, Donnie was a man of values. Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to making his community safe. Donnie was the founder and director of the International District Emergency Center – a community-run safety patrol. He spent his nights watching for crime in the neighborhood, and providing emergency care to those who waiting for an ambulance. “He was like a real life superhero,” Sonny Nguyen recalled, as he told a story in which Donnie helped evacuate an entire building from a fire before the Seattle Fire Department arrived. Last week, we saw more than two hundred community members come together in a barbecue celebrating his life. I was moved by the many lives he has touched, and the compassion and kindness that he embodied.
As we come to a close to our time in Seattle, we have certainly learned a lot about the issues that the city faces. However, more importantly, we have learned about the incredible people and non-profit organizations that stand up to these issues. The work that these organizations do is not easy, but at the end of the day, their passion and courage help sustain their causes even during the most challenging of times.
Last week, nearly a thousand people gathered in Town Hall to witness the debate on rent control. The atmosphere was tense and the crowds were restless, highlighting how pressing the issue of housing affordability in Seattle has become.
Seattle City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata led the argument in favor of rent control. Both Sawant and Licata described the severe burden that the increasing rent prices are placing on low-income households, and called for the need to limit these large price hikes through the rent control policy.
“The housing market is broken, and needs to be fixed,” Licata stated, “Without rent control, there is no answer to these skyrocketing rents.”
State Rep. Matt Manweller and Roger Valdez, a developer lobbyist, painted a far more negative side of rent control. They explored rent control in cities such as San Francisco and New York, linking the policy with the rise of dilapidated housing and the lack of housing growth in these areas. For them, the problem is centered on the widening disparity between supply and demand, and rent control does not address this.
“Rent control does not work,” Valdez asserted, “Build more housing - it’s that simple.”
However, addressing housing affordable is never that simple. Housing affordability has been a growing problem in Seattle since the late-1970s, and is only getting worse. Even so, history and experts are not on the side of rent control. In a rare consensus, nearly 93 percent of economists agree that rent control creates more problems than it solves. Nevertheless, Sawant and Licata are convinced that it can work.
“At end of the day, we can recite all facts, but this is about vision,” Sawant concluded, “if you want Seattle to be a vibrant, dynamic, and culturally diverse city, then we will need policies like rent control.”
Each city is unique, and it is impossible to predict whether such a policy would work. However, if any city could break the pattern, my bet is on Seattle.
Natalie Brand, K5 News' chief political reporter, came to interview our very own Toby Crittenden this morning.
Toby is a master narrator- he told The Bus' story seamlessly. His hair also looked great (#TeamSaveIt).
Brand seemed interested in voter apathy and ways in which local organizations, such as The Bus, work to engage people. Brand asked, "Why is voter turnout lower in the tech community?" to which Toby responded, "I wish I could say that young people are a big, monolithic block, but they aren't... If I moved across the country, I would be aware of what's happening day to day, but it wouldn't necessarily catch my heartstrings."
Toby believes that the more time you spend in a city, the more likely you are to develop a keen awareness and passion for what's happening around you. The tech community tends to be in-and-out, and it's understandable that young people are likely to have strong roots and interests elsewhere. However, Toby argues that as tech community grows and solidifies, if in 10-20 years we are still asking that question, then we will have a huge problem.
On the efficacy of reaching out to young people, Toby explained The Youth Agenda's four core issues are purely representative of young folks' concerns and passions. Part of The Youth Agenda's goals, beyond engaging young voters, is to make sure politicians know which issues young people care about as a means of enhancing their credibility.
When questioned about voter demographics and target populations, Toby explained that we ask ourselves, "where are the most young people, and where are the most people of color? We strongly believe in racial justice, and we try to target folks who are least likely to have access to information." The Bus' places a substantial focus on Districts 2 and 3, for example.
In relation to The Bus' youth engagement, Toby relayed some of the super fun and cool things we do. He described Candidate survivor as a "...way to flip the Town Hall [paradigm] and take candidates out of their comfort zones... to ask real policy questions while creating an immediate feedback loop (i.e. text to vote)."
Kudos Toby, on a job well done!
On July 22nd, Seattle celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in Westlake. The first part of the event was devoted to the recognition of donors, sponsors, volunteers, and speakers, and the second half was devoted to a rally.
Over ten organizations volunteered, and the event was sponsored by a number of corporations, government affiliates, and independent donors (I.e. SPD, City Council, the City of Bellevue, Starbucks, Boeing-which-did-not-show-up, etc.).
The Executive Director of the Washington State Independent Living Council (WASILC), Emilio Vela Jr., stated that his favorite part of the event was recognizing those affected by disabilities—he pointed to one fellow stating, “This guy right here was one of the first guys to go to college in Kansas and make a case for accessible entrances, transportation, and walkways.” He further argued, “disability rights are civil rights… it’s about independent living; working and residing where xtyou want, using public transportation, whether you’re deaf or blind or a wheelchair user.”
One speaker evocatively explained how she had developed a debilitating, "invisible," disability, or a crippling anxiety disorder, and was able to benefit from the ADA in ways previously thought unimaginable. She claimed, “If it were not for the ADA, [the act] which told my family and my friends, and frankly me, that having a disability is nothing to be ashamed of, I would still be governed by my disability today.” Instead, she is making a difference in Washington State, by servicing those living with disabilities, and engaging folks on the importance of the ADA across the state. Her story dually speaks to the ADA’s protections for those living with mental illness.
Several politicians spoke to the importance of the ADA. Patty Murray, a Washington senator strongly in support of disability rights at both the state and national levels, left an audio message. She stated, “We have so much to celebrate today, but we must also think about what more can be done.” Murray is working to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) so that students with disabilities have the opportunity to “work and grow and thrive,” in an increasingly inclusive environment.
On a beautiful sunny day, the ADA was celebrated in a crowded city square—visible, potent, and necessary.
Last Saturday, we had the opportunity to visit Plymouth Housing Group, an organization that serves some of the most disadvantaged homeless adults in Seattle. During this visit, we learned about the organization’s unique approach towards tackling homelessness.
Plymouth operates under a “housing first” philosophy, which focuses first on bringing people off the streets and into stable and permanent homes. This means that individuals who often have no other options for housing – drug addicts, the chronically ill, and the disabled – can find a home at Plymouth. By lowering the barriers to housing, and accepting those who are struggling the most, Plymouth acknowledges the challenges that come with homelessness and aims to tackle the issue at its core.
What struck me the most was the extent to which Plymouth went to try to make their tenants feel at home. As part of our visit, we helped make welcome posters and calendars for new residents, to provide a more welcoming and comfortable touch to their new homes. The idea is that by prolonging their stay, tenants will have greater opportunities to seek the supportive services that they need and build towards a better and more stable life.
So far, the hard work seems to have paid off. According to Winona Caruthers, the Community Engagement & Housing Stability Coordinator, nearly 98% of tenants remain with Plymouth after one year. Today, Plymouth is serving more than 1000 formerly-homeless people in its facilities.
However, there is still much work to be done. The problem of homelessness remains rampant in Seattle, with nearly 4000 people still living on the streets – a 20% increase from 2014. At Plymouth, waitlists extend through several years, and have even closed. This poses many questions: Are we taking the right approach? Are we tackling homelessness at its source? What is the source? The city and non-profits certainly have a complex problem to address. Whatever the answer may be, volunteering at Plymouth has shown me the value of incorporating kindness and humanity into this solution.
Recently, I attended a City Council Committee Meeting on public safety, civil rights, and technology. There were some 60 attendees in addition to Committee Chair, Bruce Harrell, council member, Jean Godden, and Chief of Police, Kathleen O'Toole.
Harrell began by addressing a group of middle school students in the audience, stating, "we have the Chief of Police here today, the highest ranking police official in the city, AND, she is a woman...We are very proud that gender doesn't make a difference, at least not here in this city."
Last time I checked, gender makes a difference everywhere - even in a city as comparatively progressive and proactive as Seattle. Harrell, are you familiar with the host of LGBTQ hate crimes happening in and around The Hill these days? Unequal wage gaps? Apparently, you aren't.
(I'll revisit later on).
For now, allow me to debrief on a few of O'Toole's main points on the SPD's efforts to augment police accountability.
1. So far in 2015, the SPD has not been involved in officer shootings and other violent disputes (phew).
2. The SPD has implemented an Early Intervention System (EIS) to enhance officer accountability. O'Toole stated, "[the EIS] is a way to identify an officer's abnormalities before he/she becomes problematic." And yes, we've seen "problematic" from sea to shining sea.
3. The SPD mandates de-escalation training as a part of its police academy, in efforts to "use deathly force [only] as a last resort so that officers have the tools to effectively de-escalate a dangerous situation." While reminiscent of the "talk a man off the ledge" strategy, popularized in films and literary account of sorts, O'Toole argues that de-escalation has been largely successful to date.
4. The SPD is going #Social #WorldWideWeb, via "trying to get better at telling [its] story," says O'Toole. She is proud of the SPD's new social media presence (FB, Twitter, etc.). Personally, I'd like to see an Instagram account titled, "TheCopCar98105," but we're not there yet.
5. The SPD is working to align its statistical data with Seattle's 57 distinct micro-communities. Each neighborhood has its own set of diverse challenges, that O'Toole and fellow officers believe should be uniquely addressed. Kudos!
6. A new (mysterious ghost) IT man is working to develop "agile policing," or the use of data from previous events to render new protocols. O'Toole says that this will help to "rapidly deploy resources through the use of technology" (like drones, but not).
7. Community outreach is in. So is police recruitment. The SPD has the most "...diverse police explorer program in the state" for young people (like, 4th graders) to "...learn about policing... and to see if it's right for them." Forest Fire Fighting (yes, the FFF) was "right for me" when I was that age, but unfortunately, things change. Anyways, the program is diverse, and "targets historically underrepresented groups," says O'Toole.
8. O'Toole signed off (kind of) with these inspirational words, to soon be etched upon the back of a Pottery Barnes pillow - "I like to emphasize that prevention and intervention are always more important than enforcement." #True.
Long live O'Toole!
Today Seattle City Hall told the world that local shelter cats would be chilling for the public to enjoy. "Come," they said. "There will be cats," they said.
But really, we show up to City "Kitty" Hall today, expecting to find an abundance of fluffy ferocity left and right, and instead we find an ultra-exclusive tent housing no more than three kittens at a time. Not to mention the longest line in history (for City Hall, obviously).
The kitten to people ratio was probably 1:70. It's like asking a group of 100 strangers to split two jelly beans amongst themselves. Like, they can't.
We demand more cats in the wake of false advertising. Do you know how many stairs it takes to climb up there? And for what? Heartbreak?! Meow.
On the night of July 1st, I attended Ropes, a homeless youth training program run by New Horizons’ staff, Joseph Seia and Tristan Herman. The training was both intensive and interactive. At first, we were asked to name the various causes and characteristics (both stereotypes and realities) associated with youth homelessness. Then, we were taught to analyze ways in which volunteers can appropriately support these populations to minimize power differentials and transactional relationships. We participated in a role playing exercise, in which we were given identification cards of respective homeless youths, and asked to achieve a set of goals (i.e. SSI, transitional housing, a bed for the night, medical care, etc.) from service organizations played by other training attendees.
I played the character of 25 year-old Sage, an African-American transgendered female, who had recently escaped the confines of an abusive relationship, and had no financial backing. In our role play, Sage was denied SSI from DHHS because her illiteracy prevented her from filling out the right forms, denied transitional housing because of her anxiety during her housing interview, and was sent to jail for not being able to pay two tickets for jaywalking (is that even a real crime?).
Throughout the exercise, the police did little to help Sage and the other youth—rather, they were stifling. Right before the exercise was over, Sage received a change card, detailing a hate crime incident that left her in the hospital. She could not afford to pay the $1200 medical bill, and she was sent to jail. Again.
The exercise was difficult for everyone involved—service organizers were torn between wanting to do what was humane (denying no one) versus what they were told to do (stick to bureaucratic routines, rules, etc.). The exercise helped me to realize how readily the homeless are dehumanized or victimized by not only the public, but by government and law enforcement officials as well. Playing the role of Sage was especiallydifficult given her gender identity—in almost every scenario, she had a significantly harder time achieving her goals than did cissgender youths participating in the same exercise.
Joseph stated, “how you receive [trans youths] at the door [of any organization] will determine whether or not they continue to come back,” highlighting the importance of LGBTQ education in his work. As hate crimes increase on the streets, the world becomes infinitely more cruel towards LGBTQ homeless youth. Violence aside, Joseph and Tristan explained how internalized oppression is one of the most lasting and dangerous effects of youth homelessness. Tristan argued that one of the biggest obstacles New Horizons faces is “young folks’ really lowself worth… this unshakable sense of inferiority.” Internalized oppression drastically increases drug and alcohol abuse on the streets, as well, making it even harder to reach out for support.
This training was super helpful (thanks Josephand Tristan!) and informative. I’d strongly recommend attending—you won’t be the same person when you leave.
This weekend, we attended our first Seattle Pride. On Friday, we attended the TransPride festival on Capitol Hill, and on Sunday, we attended the larger parade in the city's center.
The Bus has been attending TransPride for two years, and the festival itself has existed for three. It is organized by the Gender Justice League and depends on donations from a number of organizations, such as the Social Justice Fund Northwest (SJFN) and the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA).
Karter Booher, The Bus' Fellowship Coordinator, stated that TransPride 2015 seemed to be about twice as large as it was the previous year, highlighting the festival's substantial growth.
The Bus had four fellows involved in TransPride this year, whose primary responsibility was to register voters and engage people in The Bus' youth agenda (police accountability, youth employment, housing accessibility, specifically) in regards to issues within and around Seattle's trans community. Namely, there has been a recent increase in trans related hate crimes and violence, the necessity for protection against discrimination in the workplace, and the need for safe and affordable housing. This past year, Seattle had the third-highest rate of LGBTQ-related hate crimes in the United States.
Karter believes that education around these issues is crucial to lessening tensions. Theo Savini, a 2015 fellow, stated that The Bus' involvement at TransPride is crucial because it urges people to vote and organize in spite of being made to feel invisible or silenced.
In attending Seattle's Pride Parade on Sunday, the Bus teamed up with Equal Rights Washington in marching. The march was nearly two miles long, and endless lines of supporters filed along sidewalks. At the end of the parade, we saw the rainbow flag hanging atop the Space Needle, evidencing Seattle's (and America's) recent legislative and judicial success and fight for social justice. We've undoubtedly come a long way, and the fact that #LoveWon this weekend is no small feat. However, there is still so much progress to be made, and as young folks, we're lucky to have both a hand and a say in where we go from here.
We spent our day at The Bus running about Capitol Hill (aka "The Hill," "Trapitol Trill, but never EVER CapHill), interviewing locals about their favorite neighborhood dessert spots.
The Hill was adorned in rainbow, in celebration of Pride this past weekend. 'Safe Place' signs were attached to windows and doors, and crosswalks were freshly painted rainbow. Locals were not only excited about the recent Pride festivities, but also about the ways in which each dessert cafe/shop/hub incorporated the theme into its decor and food items.
Seeing as we had already been lucky enough to eat bumbleberry pie at High 5 Pie just two days prior, we decided to go back and talk to Adaam King ("'King' like royalty") one of the the cafe's baristas. Adaam told us that he's worked at High 5 for over three years, and that his favorite pie is the peanut butter and jelly cream pie. He explained that the pies are made exclusively of butter crust, and only from local ingredients (fresh from WA, OR, and ID). When we asked Adaam what makes the coffee so fantastic, he responded "Me." No arguing here! High5 also specializes in the sweet or savory pie fries, or what we affectionately refer to as "the munchkins of the pie world." If you want to be cool like Adaam, you can enjoy the savory fries with a side of sour cream.
Upon arriving in Cal Anderson park, we met Joyce B., a mother, who recommended D'Ambrosio Gelato. In her opinion, D'Ambrosio has some of the best gelato in all of Seattle. Her favorite flavor is salted caramel fig, and her five-year-old daughter is crazy about the avocado flavor. #SophisticatedTaste. Sam Warren, a Seattle native, loves Dilettante's wide selection of cakes, and we later found out that the cafe services a complete chocolate martini bar.
Another local, named Nicole, recommended the chocolate eclair at Cafe Petti Rosso, which we then decided to try for ourselves. Really, REALLY wasn't bad. So basically, if you have your heart set on running into us (anyone?), chances are you can find us chilling here.
We were drawn to Marcus Garthe, a cyrwheeler (please, look it up, it's fascinating and magical). He told us that the best dessert is located in Belltown (not The Hill, but closeish?). La Vita e Belle has some of the best homemade canolis and tiramisu in the city, and as Marcus explained, "great Italian desserts are super hard to find."
While watching Marcus, we were also drawn to a rainbow-haired woman named Colleen Langdon, and her adorable dog, Maggie. Colleen works for the Social Outreach Seattle (SOSea), and as a security guard in The Hill. As a key initiator of both the pride-painted crosswalks and The Hill's Safe Place movement, Colleen lent an interesting perspective on LBGQT hate crimes, and told us that she is excited for the upcoming Seattle Pride Parade. On a lighter note, Colleen raved about Molly Moons (which we actually have not tried yet, despite tons of recommendations). She
also mentioned Cupcake Royale, which we decided to visit next.
Cupcake Royale is a princess's paradise. We spent ten minutes deliberating on which cupcakes to get, and finally decided on "The USA" (previously "The Gay" -thanks SCOTUS!) and a mini chocolate cupcake. Both were incredible. Seriously, better than Magnolia in NYC. They had all kinds of cool flavors, like Blueberry Lavender Honeycomb, Raspberry Pavlova, and Blackberry Brown Butter. Cupcake Royale also has really good ice cream, but sadly, we were already sugar crashing by the time we walked in.
Basically, we fell in love with Cupcake Royale, High 5 and Pie, and Cafe Petti Rosso. Thanks for the food baby, Seattle. We hope everyone had a great Pride weekend!
We are Allen and Natalie, and we come to The Bus this summer as DukeEngage interns. We are super excited to begin our work with The Bus and to experience all that it has to offer.
We are eager to begin working on and learning about issues of accessibility and equity resources, green and urban development, and anti-oppression mechanisms within the Seattle community. Together, we've had experience in marketing, branding, research, and developmental analysis. We hope to both augment these skills during our time with The Bus, and to learn more about Seattle's political processes, policy needs, and youth agenda.
We will be working with Sonny, The Bus' engagement coordinator, and blogging every week about various Bus happenings. If you see us out and about with The Bus at various events, please be sure to say hello and tell us where to grab our next meal!
Natalie hails from Duke University as a Public Policy Major. Natalie can often be found drinking the wrong coffee from the wrong places, helplessly navigating this majestic novelty of a city, or freestyle rapping at the expense of others. Natalie is looking forward to engaging and mobilizing the citizens of Seattle, and learning as much as possible about anti-oppression, human rights, and urban and green development. She is eager to get started in the field and will be blogging weekly about various Bus happenings.
Allen is a rising senior at Duke University, and is majoring in Biology. He comes from a small town in New York called Corning, and enjoys spending time outdoors, whether it is by running, playing soccer, or hiking. When he is not outside, you can find him catching up on sports or watching cooking shows. He is excited to be working as an intern with the Bus, and be a part of this movement of empowering the youth of Seattle in tackling issues important to their communities.
This blog post was written by Tatum McConnel, sophomore at the Seattle Academy and Communications Coordinator with the 2014 Fall Internship.
A battle has raged on between Seattle lawmakers and Seattle unions, AFT Washington and SEIU Local 925, for months now - so what’s it all about? Preschool. Might not be what you were expecting. By November 4th, voters will have to decide between two options on the ballot that both have to do with the child care industry. Here’s the thing, only one can get passed.
Prop 1A, backed by AFT Washington and SEIU 925, aims to improve working conditions by raising wages and creating a new training institute for child-care workers, while also limiting costs of pre-K to 10% of a family's income.
Prop 1B, proposed by City Council and the Mayor, wants to take a first step towards creating a universal Pre-K by subsidizing Pre-K costs for families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty line.
They say the devil's in the detail, so what's the catch?
Currently, the main issue is that no one has any idea how much Prop 1A will cost. Prop 1B aims to serve 2,000 3- to 4-year olds through a $58 million property tax levy over 4 years, but Prop 1A estimates have huge ranges! The Prop 1A campaign says it will cost about $3 million. The Prop 1B campaign says Prop 1A could cost $100 million. That’s a pretty big difference.
So how can there be such a huge difference between the two budgets?? The problem is that no one can really know how much Prop 1A will cost, because no one knows how the wording will be interpreted in court. There’s no way to know if pieces of the measure will be viewed as mandatory or aspirational. (For an in-depth look into the financials of Prop 1A check out Publicola's recent article on the subject.)
So why is preschool so important?
Hella Beautiful Tribute To Seattle Sports (source)
This blog post was written by Elijah Newman, a sophomore at the Puget Sound Community School and Communications Coordinator for the 2014 Fall Internship.
Seattle has long been deprived of consistent winning in professional sports. As the Mariners were playoff contenders this year for the first time in thirteen years (one game!) and the Seahawks got their first Superbowl Championship since joining the NFL in 1976, I thought it would be interesting to dive into a bit of Seattle’s sports history.
Since the year 2000 professional sports titles have been relatively scarce in Seattle. Sure, we’ve had some great teams here and there, but is it enough to justify the massive amount of public spending that goes into these modern-day gladiator games?
This blog post was written by Tatum McConnel, sophomore at the Seattle Academy and Communications Coordinator with the 2014 Fall Internship.
Buses may seem like an eyesore and a drain on the economy to someone who doesn’t understand their importance, but for those who use them or understand their value, it’s easy to see how much they mean. Buses get people to work. They get people to school. They create independence for seniors and disabled people. They reduce traffic. Buses are hugely important to having a healthy and productive city.
At my first phone bank to fund Seattle’s metro I heard someone say, “The bus is one of the only places that people are together on a daily basis regardless of class, race, and gender.” That idea really means a lot to me. It shows how Metro in Seattle is much more than just a bunch of buses. It’s a force that brings together almost every kind of person that lives and travels in our city.
The awesome #10 Seattle bus goin' up Pike towards 15th ave.
In the world today there are often very strict barriers between race, class, and gender. These issues are slowly improving but they’re far from over. On the bus everyone sits together
or stands if it's rush hour. Everyone who takes the bus spends a few minutes of their day in the company of a greatly diverse group of people. There may not be a lot of communication or dialogue but everyone’s still there and together in the same space.
Just being in the same space as others and seeing diverse groups together can help change the way people think about others. I think that just by taking the bus people can become more accepting and understanding of others around them. It may be a small change but even on a very small level this acceptance is critical.
So how should you support this amazingly important cause? By voting yes on Seattle Transportation Prop. 1 on November 4th!
Seattle Transportation Prop. 1 will fund the buses and make them run more smoothly and efficiently. With this measure the bus will be able to reach more people and will better serve our city. Gettin' people where they need to go. Bringin' the city together. All good things when it comes to the Seattle buses. And as always, don’t forget to
This blog post was written by Leila Reynolds, sophomore at the UW and Volunteer Coordinator with the 2014 Fall Internship.
Voting! You turn 18 and BAM! Everyone you know is doing it. In this case, I think we'll all agree that a little peer pressure is a good thing. You vote, but how much do you know about it? Here are a few quick facts to get you started.
Do you remember what you were doing in July and August of 2013? I know your grandparents do. So remember as you cast your ballot this November - there's an election, every year, two or three times per year. (And yes, each one is important definitely counts.)