Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sacramento, CA: Homeless campers forced to move say shelters not an option

Came across this article at - mainstream news... A college student . . . A part-time office worker with pets... A man with children who was a carpenter, but work dried up...    Sacramento encampment  used to have more than 150 people, their stories are very similar to stories of people in Nickelsville, Tent City 3 and other tent cities;  the stories are the same across the country.  And now Sacramento people have nowhere to go.   Watch the video and read the entire article at link below, I only quoted some of the closing paragraphs. We better wake up.

Homeless campers forced to move say shelters not an option
8:56 AM, Dec 29, 2011  
copied url of the pic from the article, but it gives no credentials...

"I can't go to a shelter, because it'll conflict with my schooling," full-time Sacramento City College student Jordan Davis said. "The scheduling for sign-ups is tedius and certain programs you have to attend, if you miss one, they'll kick you out."

Another homeless woman refuses to give up her pet dog she's had for 10 years to enter a shelter.

"Can you give up your best friend? My dogs are all I have," said the woman who didn't want to be identified, because she works part-time in an office.

"There's no shelters you can go to with dogs."
Rest of the article here....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

1.6 million US children are homeless now - Merry Christmas America

Nickelsville's Christmas tree - 12/16/11
With all good wishes for a Merry Christmas and 
a Happy new Year to our friends in Nickelsville!

While the mainstream media informs us that CEOs of our banks will unwrap the biggest ever (did I say 'ever'?  Yes, EVER) bonuses this year for Christmas, I found this, just published gem on the webpage of  The National Center on Family Homelessness:

America's Youngest Outcasts 2010

A new report by The National Center on Family Homelessness finds that more than 1.6 million children - or one in 45 children - are homeless annually in America. This represents an increase of 38% during the years impacted by the economic recession. The 124-page report, America's Youngest Outcasts 2010, ranks the 50 states from best (1) to worst (50), and offers specific policy solutions. Read the full report and find out where your state ranksMedia inquiries.

Nickelsville, 12/16/11 - general view

Six of those children, aged from 1 y.o. to 16 y.o. live in Nickelsville now; sure they have extended family of 120+ tent city members  who dot on them and take turns providing care for them, which is way better that untold numbers of other homeless children who will spend their Christmas in cars, shelters, friends' couches or maybe nowhere close to warmth and light;  but is this kind of childhood we meant for our youngsters?  One in 45 children means roughly one child in every classroom in America!

T.J. and her son, Adam - Nickelsville, 12/16/11

Last Friday Lynnda packed her car full of wood for Nickelsville, bags of warm clothes she collected among her neighbors, bags of fresh fruit (none of her signature cookies, because we read in 'Real Change' paper that Nickelsville is currently overloaded with surplus  holiday pastry donations from bakeries and restaurants, and that they wish for simple fresh fruit) and off we went to see our friends, who still live outside of the city, on Marginal Way (address and map on the right hand corner of the blog), where they moved to in May of this year.  Of course we brought a bucket of soup, and of course it was West African Peanut soup, which became my signature by now...

The camp's original entrance became a donation gate - Nickelsville 12/16/11
The gate of Nickelsville has been moved to the opposite side of the encampment, much closer to the bus.  The original entrance serves as donation entrance only (has parking space).  We found mainly new faces in Nickelsville, and what appeared as an extended area of tents, way past the line where it ended when we visited in September; but we were told that the current number of residents is still the same: about 120 (including six children), and that some of the tents are temporarily empty.

The camp's original (and resident from the Day 1)  historian of the place, Richard, did leave as planned,  and hopefully is enjoying holiday cheers with his family in Arkansas - hand-wave to Richard in Arcansas...  Lynnda was worried about Jarvis - his phone has been disconnected for a while and he no longer calls her, either - we learned that he reunited with his wife and kids in California, so hopefully he and his family also enjoy a  nice holiday break now - hi Jarvis in California...

Greg enjoying a quiet moment by the fire - Nickelsville, 12/16/11

Tracy and Mike are still in Nickelsville, and so is Nate (we didn't see him), Jerry, Greg and T.J.  We run into T,J, and she was beaming - introduced us to her just recently found son, Adam, who came to pick his mother up and drive with her to see their family in Bellingham - hope Adam's truck is now safely parked there and there is lots of family joy to share.

Nickelsville has a beautiful Christmas tree and there was a party to dress it - lots of lovely hand made decorations and even some gifts under the tree already; Lynnda and I wondered who has a job of moving them indoors when it rains.
Tracy's sic-pawed cat, Socks, is all grown up and very cuddly.  Nickelsville, 12/16/11

Nickelsville has large number of military vets, maybe next time I'll find a study on how America treats them - judging from number of them being homeless, not too kindly.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sweet and sour sorrel soup

7/22/11 • new bright fence
at the entrance to Nickelsville

Lynnda came on Thursday with her car full of firewood (her yard lost a tree recently) arranged around a big rain barrow and with big box of her homemade cookies on top of the pile, of course – she seem to be unable to leave the house without them (my husband thanks you, Lynnda, for the cookies you kindly appropriated to him, he is enjoying them as I am writing this).

We poured the content of two big pots (sweet and sour sorrel soup – recipe below) into a soup bucket and off to Nickelsville we went.  Lynnda had, but I did not visit the place since June - the new, bright colored fence greets visitors at the entrance: such a joyful accent!

9/22/11 • General view of Nickelsville from the entrance
9/22/11 • Inside the kitchen tent
Right now Nickelsville hosts about 120 residents, including 2 families with 8 or 9 children between them: we met very pretty Jackie, almost 2 year old, enjoying a quiet lunch with her mother…  At the height of summer Nickelsville had about 150+ people + numerous four-legged family members (lots of them still there).  Many new faces now, but we met some old friends, too: Tracy, Richard, T.J., Nate and Tim; there must be more, because as Richard walked us through the compound to show the new developments we heard greetings of recognition: the soup ladies are here… :)

9/22/11 • Container garden space

Richard may be leaving soon:  his family had a reunion in Seattle this summer and there was a talk that he may join them in Arkansas - he would live with his sister, while helping elder family members with tasks they no longer can do.

9/22/11 • Swing set for
the children of Nickelsville
So, what is new in Nickelsville? Several more structures went up, the container garden is growing healthily,  there are 2 resident-goats which are tasked with clearing the brush, a play-structure for children was assembled and there is a cat castle – a separate tent where kitties enjoy  each other’s company + cat-gym and toys.

I’m sure there is more that I didn’t catch –our visit too short, as usual, alas.

9/22/11 • Shelly petting resident goats

(Vegan – but you can ‘fix’ it by throwing chunks of chicken in the beginning).

The ‘essence’ of this soup, as Brian, a one-time resident of Nickelsville would put it, comes from combining the sweetness of sweet potatoes and caramelized onion with tartness of sorrel.

I cooked it in 2 large pots: the actual soup in one and the filler (to make the soup go further) in second.  You can either follow the actual soup and skip the filler, or add some (or all) of the ingredients from the filler part to your ‘actual’ soup pot, if you are cooking for 60+ people.

‘Actual’ sorrel soup:

1.  Combine in pot and cook till carrots are semi-soft (about 10 minutes):
- Caramelized onion (you know that one:  sautéed on low flame in scanty amount of olive oil, till it is very juicy and sweet, about 20 minutes – I actually do huge amounts in crock-pot ahead of time, and freeze it in containers for further use)
-  Chopped carrots
- (Optional:) any seasoning you have – mine: laurel leaves, chopped fresh rosemary leaves, lovage spring or 2)
- Water to cover the stuff in the pot; + add water later as you see it fit.

2.) Add chopped sweet potatoes and cook some more till carrots and yams are almost soft, but not mushy (about 10 minutes more)

4.) Add veggie cubes and chopped sorrel – the more sorrel you add the more  sour the soup will be (I harvested and chopped  a humongous bunch from 2 pots  - this stuff is easy to grow and seem eternal as it comes back in same pots for years now).  Cook for some 5 minutes (not long, you want the leaves in nice green color, not rotten green).

5.) Add chopped broccoli and turn the flame off (broccoli needs just the surrounding heat to steam itself up) and some canned butter beans (or other favorite beans you) for protein content.

6. Finish the soup  - all optional; my fixings here:  crushed garlic, olive oil (anything with fat will taste better) and chopped cilantro and parsley.  If the soup is not sour enough for you, add lemon juice, too.  Serve with good bread.

Soup filler (you can use any, all or none from this part of the recipe); mine was a combo of:
- Red lentils (cooked for some 20 minutes to thicken the soup)
- Broken spaghetti noodles  (5 more minutes)
- Chopped cabbage (+ 5 minutes)
- And more veg cubes.
9/22/11 • Kristin and Abbie.  Abbie is an cat from India, where Noreen rescued it and brought back to US last July.
9/22/11 • Tracy's cat:  Socks
9/22/11 • Lynnda and Richard look at the new structures;
the blue tarp/tent on the right is a house for the goats

P.S.  Sorry for possibly misspelled names in captions – will get it fixed when able.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Comment from Hanna: Another article on homeless vets from 'Seattle Times'

'Stand Down' offers homeless vets access to services, benefits, clothes

Some three hundred homeless veterans went to Seattle Central Community College on Thursday for a "Stand Down" event where they could access health care and counseling and learn about disability benefits or other services. At the end, they could leave with a new backpack, a jacket, socks and other essentials for life on the streets.
Seattle Times staff reporter

Vietnam veteran Jerry Shaw, 57, picks out a sleeping bag from a pile of government-surplus items Thursday.
Enlarge this photo
Vietnam veteran Jerry Shaw, 57, picks out a sleeping bag from a pile of government-surplus items Thursday.Jerry Shaw, a rail thin Vietnam veteran, entered the gear room at Thursday's "Stand Down" at Seattle Central Community College and gazed at the huge piles of sleeping bags, gloves, hats and jackets.
"This will save lives here this winter," Shaw said. "If it only saves one, it will be great."
Shaw was one of about 300 men and women who showed up at the event, which offered homeless veterans a kind of one-stop shopping, where they could access health care and counseling and learn about disability benefits or other services. At the end, they could leave with a new backpack, a jacket, socks and other essentials for life on the streets.
The event was a cooperative effort launched by veteran and student Sam Barrett, 30, and involved more than 50 agencies and organizations. Barrett is a Seattle Central graduate now attending Seattle University, and both institutions helped sponsor the event.
King County officials estimate 2,500 to 3,000 veterans are homeless in King County, and their plight has twice-spurred voters — in 2005 and again this past August — to approve a special levy to help improve their lives. The levy has raised more than $13 million a year for veterans and was one of the funding sources for Gossett Place, a 62-unit low-income housing complex that opened in Seattle's University District earlier this week with some apartments set aside for homeless veterans.
Thanks, Hanna!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another article

Sol commented below on another article, here it is, with an active link:

Feeding Seattle's homeless: a decade of doing "good"
Posted by Nancy Leson

In 2001, John Platt and Paul Butler had an epiphany: They could help feed the homeless. As owners of St. Clouds bistro in Madrona, Platt (who knows his way around the kitchen) and Butler (whose contribution to the cause is a central spot in the dish-pit) remain committed to that goal. On Aug. 17, they'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of their "Homeless Cooking Project."

What began as a half-cocked effort to feed 125 residents of a nearby tent city has blossomed into a monthly community celebration providing a restaurant-quality meal to 450 people at seven shelters throughout Seattle.

On the third Wednesday of each month, a small army of volunteers descends on St. Clouds. Troops show up at 9 a.m. with paring knives and cutting boards, fresh produce and other staples. They're done by 1 p.m. Old hands know the drill. New recruits ask, "What should I do?" Platt -- a former high-school principal -- is the friendly taskmaster who provides the answer: "Good."
Rest of the article here....

Now that I'm back from travels, time to check on my friends who are homeless ....  Lynnda says tent city 3 is moving again....  They are closer to me than Nickelsville so I may visit them first.  She also said that the homeless in Seattle funding was cut by FEMA -  it affects SHARE and WHEEL...  A story on this on Nickelsville's FB:

Visiting Krakow this summer I noticed many homeless?/begging people on the streets - a truly sad sight...  I guess they are now free to beg...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Article about homeless family in Seattle

I will be traveling most of July, but before I go just wanted to bring to your attention an article about a single mom in Seattle - it is written by Mark Horvath, Founder of

I spent the day with a homeless family here in Seattle, yet it felt like spending the day with a normal family. The big difference was at the end of the day Carey and her daughter Maggy drove their van to a park to sleep for the night.

I first met Carey Fuller through I post she wrote on, "What It's Like To Be A Homeless Mother". She blogged anonymously so I had to beg the editor to connect us. From that point on, I have been so very impressed by Carey. I have done everything I can to help her and will continue to do so.

Yesterday, I met Carey and her daughter at a yard sale they were holding. On weekends she tries to make a little money by selling either old stuff she had in storage or new stuff she finds. Carey is very resourceful. When she needed money to repair the van they live in, she published a Kindle version of a book she wrote on, Writings From The Driver's Side.

Carey wants to start chronicling homeless life on video. I was bringing her cameras, but they were stolen at my first stop when my car was broken into. I am all about empowering homeless people so that did not stop me. I just took Carey to Best Buy and let her pick out a camera that would fit her needs.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest and can help please contact me or Carey directly. Let's get this family the support they need. Let's get this family into housing.

The rest  + video is here....

Friday, June 3, 2011

5 bucks shower & need for (hale - cross that out) HAY bales

5/2/11 • Guard gate at Nickelsville
P.S. 5/4 - Lynnda just pointed out that Jeremy asked for HAY bales, not hale bales - thank you my friend! (I do keep making words up - why is the world not catching up to them, dammit)....

Tracy was waiting by the gate when Lynnda and I arrived at Nickelsville; she left a message earlier  that morning, and  I called back, thinking that perhaps she wanted to alert us to some specific needs we might fulfill, but no, Tracy doesn't have a computer (she wishes she had), didn't know we were coming and generally just called to see how I am - what a timing!  'I'm several shades darker than last time you saw me' - she laughed, responding to my noticing how suntanned her face is;  she must tan very easily, as we had total of 1.5 days of sun since Nickelsville moved to Marginal Way.

Tracy gave us a camp tour while other residents were emptying Lynnda's car  from firewood and lawn chairs she packed for them, and oh, the cookies she bake, too - Jeremy intercepted them with a fast smile, saying he will hide them till proper dinner time, when most people are in the camp - I didn't even see what kind of cookies Lynnda baked:)...

5/2/11 • Nickelsville
We walked past sheltered from rain and sun social area of tables and chairs, along rows of tents and toward the end of the encampment, where the first solid wooden structure was being completed behind the orange warning fence.  The pic here shows men working on it, although it was finished by that very evening (go to Nickelsville's FB page to see it); Jeremy was rushing there to help, too, even though he and Andrea are planning to move to their own place August 1st (Andrea's daily school commute is now 1.5 hrs to reach her veterinary school in North Seattle) - there was a sense of pride, excitement and solidarity in the voices of all who talked to us about this project:  homes they are building together for themselves, more solid than tents and mainly using recycled materials, true eco-village.   They have architectural and material support from friends of Nickelsville and need some more - again check Nickelsville FB page, hopefully somebody posts a list of needed materials and maybe you even have it in your garage.
5/2/11 • Work on the first wooden home-structure

Tracy sounded quite happy and settled about being in the tent again and pointed out that although the old fire station provided them with kitchen and roof, it was definitely crowded and people were more cramped than they are now.  Presently camp has about 120 residents, which is 20 above the fire station capacity - and there is space for more; she also mentioned the benefits of the fresh air.  Asked about daily life details, Tracy said there are 2 food stores in a short bus ride distance - it would be walkable distance, but it's up the steep hill to White Center, so the bus ride is definitely preferable; they had some food shortages at the beginning and went through the most of the canned soup pantry collection, but now  are reconnecting with services + a few local churches also started to help.  I promised Tracy to find a phone contact number for the agency which used to drop wrap-sandwiches to their old place - need to ask Lynnda about the name of the agency...

How about laundry and showers?  That is somewhat inconvenient, informed us Tracy - the closest facility is downtown service center with free showers and laundry, but a bus ride there costs $5 round trip - $10  if she and her husband Mike go together....  We run into Julie, who seems fine and was about to go out for the 5 bucks shower with 2 friends - she, too, said that is one of the inconveniences of being not close to city services; she mentioned that she obtained a voucher for a bus ride, so it'll be free for her, but just the idea of having to figure out where to get voucher for the bus, then ride it with backpack full of change clothes in order to complete such a simple task as shower, gave me a pause.

5/2/11 • Richard and puppy Bear
We were about to leave and I still didn't see Richard, so Tracy pointed out to his tent and I went to harass him - I called his name and told him mine when he responded with 'yes?' He came out for a brief chat and played with baby dog Bear (now much bigger than puppy we saw back in the fire station).

Our visit happened to be in a dry moment of  this rainy Seattle spring, but the puddles around the camp  were not quite dry and Tracy cautioned us repeatedly to avoid them.  Dealing with mud must be one of the daily irksome tasks of life in Nickelsville, because Jeremy was  speculating on how much time it'll take for it to dry completely - a month? two? - and before we left he asked to post this message on the blog: 'WE NEED HALE HAY BALES, PLEASE'.  So if you have them - share with Nickelsville, so their pathways are dry and safe to walk on.

• The soup, for those wishing for a recipe:  Lebanese tomato soup with rice  and black-eyed peas; originally it was a simple black-eyed pea stew in tomato sauce, very garlicky and served over rice that my friend's Lebanese mother fed us on her visit to Seattle.  Here I just combined it into one pot meal: soak the peas overnight then cook till soft (about 1 hr+), add rice and more water, cook additional 20 minutes till rice is cooked, add canned tomato or tomato paste, season (salt, pepper, lots of fresh garlic + I added chipotle chili peppers for a kick, but not necessary), and you are done.  Nickelsville version had onions, celery and carrots added for extra nutrition somewhere around with rice, as well as loads of fresh parsley and cilantro on the end, but none of that was in the original Lebanese recipe - you have to figure out your own proportions, we cooked for about 50-60 people.

• I'll finish this long post with a link to very interesting article form,  the last place I'd look for such story, but here it is:

'I didn't think I'd stay homeless for that long ...'

By Rick NewmanU.S. News & World Report

A few months after losing her administrative job in the summer of 2008, 23-year-old Brianna Karp got rid of her furniture, a beloved piano, and most of her books so she could move back in with her parents. When that didn't work out, she moved into an old trailer a relative had left her, settling into an informal homeless community in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Brea, Calif. By the summer of 2009, she was living without electricity, regular showers, home-cooked food, and most basic conveniences.

Karp held tight to her laptop, however, and began writing a blog about her experiences. That generated attention that helped her land a part-time magazine internship, and eventually ink a book deal. Although her book, "The Girl's Guide to Homelessness," was recently published, Karp still lives in a dilapidated shed that the state of California considers not fit for human habitation. I spoke with her recently about her experiences.[...]
The rest of the article here...

Note, that Briana has a blog 'The Girl's Guide to Homelessness', and a recently published book based on her blog, she also has a job and still is semi-homeless (she cannot afford an apartment) - very instructive and well told story which will resonate with struggles of many people trying to survive in the present economy of no jobs or low paying jobs and scarce affordable housing.  This is what she said when asked:

[...]  What do you feel people should know about the homeless? 
There's a stereotype that they're lazy, dirty, mentally ill, or there because they want to be. It's a hard life. You can't be lazy and be homeless. You have to do so much just to survive, to get by from day to day. You don't always have transportation, money, or food. You have to worry about where it comes from. Yet get tired easily, and depressed more easily. It's not like you say, I don't feel like working any more so I'm going to go sleep on a park bench. [...]

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thursday is coming

I read Ibu's post on FB a few days ago about people being hungry....  It made me sad; I don't know what exactly is happening, but imagine that being far from stores and food-banks does not help.  Having to truck water, no electricity, no kitchen. And all that energy spent to adapt to the new environment. Must not be easy.

Last issue of 'Real Change News' had a short  article about former Nickelsville's home, Fire Station 39:

With Nickelsville gone, old Fire Station 39 up for grabs
by: Cydney Gillis , Staff Reporter

Now that residents of Nickelsville have moved out of the old Fire Station 39, two groups are competing for control of the 1949 building.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced that he and council would work to turn the firehouse into a shelter, but the question is, who will run it?
The rest is here....

Anyway, this coming Thursday Lynnda and I will go to Nickelsville; will bring some cookies and soup;  Lynnda also found more firewood.

P.S. Perhaps I should take my super-simple solar cooker to Nickelsville and see if anybody is interested - that is if we have any sun in Seattle anytime soon...  I cooked quite a few soups and stews in it - it's wonderful, because it requires no energy but solar to use it - you just put the soup stuff in it, turn it towards the sun, go do something else, and 4-6 hours later the soup is ready, no sweat, no worry. Mine looks like the picture here - just a cardboard with reflective aluminum foil.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Visit to the new location, 5/24/11

Nickelsville 5/24/11 • Food tent
(limited amount of food available to residents);

by Lynnda

Nickelsville 5/24/11• Cooking area
with 2 propane grills and one charcoal grill

Yesterday, I was in South Seattle and decided to visit the relocated Nickelsville. I have been making soup with Aleks on Thursdays, and last week was the first week I wasn't cooking in the Lake City Fires Station. I missed visiting with my friends. So, I was glad to have the opportunity to drop in and bring a batch of freshly baked cookies and a carload of firewood.

Jarvis gave me a tour of the camp as others unloaded the firewood. The outdoor cooking area has two propane powered grills and a few smaller ones.

Nickelsville 5/24/11 • water station (water brought in from off site
since there is no city water at Nickelsville)

Nickelsville 5/24/11 • social area and meeting location.

Water is brought in from off site and is available at the entrance to Nickelsville. They use wheelbarrows to transport heavy objects lile the firewood. There is a community gathering place with lawn chairs around a firepit. It was sunny when I visited and everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The kitchen is closed.

It's a bit over a week since Nickelsville moved from my neighborhood - I miss the people and hope everybody is dry, warm and has a full belly, too. Present location of Nickelsville precludes my routine involvement, so now I'm only able to follow on Facebook or through emails, unless I'm as lucky as Lynnda who run into Jarvis on the bus the other day!

So no more direct reports, unless I visit, which I occasionally plan to do - there is no way to actually know how people are, without actually seeing them in their environment.  I know Lynnda is planning a visit shortly;  she will be in Nickelsville's  new neighborhood for something else and plans to drop off some firewood she has and never uses, but they are short of - have you seen that pic Pamela Kliment posted on FB where cardboard is burned with a caption 'needing wood'?

Again: Nickelsville's Facebook page, click here.

I will try to keep the pages of this blog alive by posting local stories about Nickelsville or issues of homelessness, as i find them.

Here is one very nice, from 'West Seattle Blog', although I loathe the premise of the article - that there is a separate category of people who are homeless, and the authors found one who is, surprise, surprise, just like the rest of us.  The truth is the people in tent cities are one of us, and we are one of them; there is no separation.

I'll assume that the authors knew the normal bias mainstream media has when it comes to the homeless people in our culture (quite sick culture of revering the rich no matter how they gained their goods, and blaming the poor people for their misfortune) and decided to work from that angle against the bias;  but I'd much prefer if they quit looking for 'special' homeless people and realized our common humanity.  With that small complaint, enjoy the article (most comments are refreshingly sane in support of Nickelsville, at least when I looked at them some 12 hours ago):

So you think you know who’s at Nickelsville? Read Mike’s story

May 20, 2011 at 10:22 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 67 Comments

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Shortly after the encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” returned to West Seattle a week ago, two longtime WSB Forums members e-mailed with news that another longtime member and WSB site participant, whose many comments have provided humor and history, Mike aka “miws,” was among its newest residents; they helped him get set up there after he was evicted from his Morgan Junction apartment. We have met Mike several times over the past few years; we knew he was struggling, but didn’t know he had become homeless. We were glad to hear they wanted to tell his story, provided he gave his permission, which he did.)

Story by Joanne Brayden
Photos by Kevin McClintic
Special to West Seattle Blog

On Monday, Mike, who posts on the West Seattle Blog Forums as miws, became a resident of Nickelsville, the tent-city encampment that recently made news as it moved out of a city-provided shelter at old Fire Station #39 and back to an empty field in the industrial area along the Duwamish River at the eastern base of West Seattle, without the city’s blessing.

By Wednesday, Mike had already worked one shift as Security and voted in camp meetings that will determine the future of his new home. He hasn’t just settled in, he has become part of the community, and can’t stop telling everyone how lucky he was that Nickelsville moved back to West Seattle so there was space for him when he needed them.
The rest is here...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Saturday visit to ex- Nickelsville.

I stopped by the fire station in the evening on a hunch that somebody might  still be there:  maybe cleaning, maybe guarding, or maybe packing whatever was left.   2 or 3 people were on the guard duty and 6 or 9 people  (coming and going, hard to count),  I'm not sure why still there:  looking for a way to get to the new Nickelsville location?   Cleaning stuff?  Packing? I really don't know - but we were all very happy to see each other - like an extra bonus time given after our paths were destined to part.  One of the hugs nearly  broke my ribs - given in such an earnest joy.

Oh, and we saved the fish:  'I lived in this pet room for six months - with cats, dogs and fish.  People took their pets with them to the new Nickelsville location, but that one fish was somehow left behind, I don't know why.  I just put it in a small aquarium and want to save its life.  Soup Lady, could you please take it and keep it?'.  Oh, sure, I said - the young man's empathy for the fish was contagious and who wants to be on the  record as a fish-executioner?

'Look here, it comes with this big nice aquarium, and great  stuff to put it in for the fish to play with - (looked like a fish-playground and a tree-park) and there is the fish food to go with, too'.  He was now emptying the big aquarium from water and working fast on assembling the whole thing for me to take, breathlessly advertising how personable the fish is + its biological name (which I promptly forgot by now); all the  while my mind was in over-drive trying to figure out who should inherit the fish - I know nothing about the fish-keeping, and at this point mainly worried that I'd off the fish accidentally (by not feeding, not playing) while looking for a  home for it.

Then I met Rob -  he was there volunteering to help with the move, and presently was in the parking lot packing two residents' belonging into the trunk of his car - he was about to give them a ride to the new location. Fortunately Rob has 2 children and he thought his boy and  girl would enjoy taking care of the fish.   THE FISH HAS A HOME - hallelujah!  Thank you Rob, and whoever left the fish behind feel better, too.

How about dinner at the fire station?   'Well, could  you make a soup out of fake eggs and old bread?' -  somebody asked jokingly.  That was all we found in the kitchen, so I went to Fred Meyer nearby and brought back some sandwiches, roasted chicken  and potato salad.  It went fast - the people were hungry, probably no food since Nickelsville moved 24+ hours ago..

Later in the evening  I looked at Nickelsville's Facebook page and found pictures and videos from the new location - was very happy to see familiar faces in the pics, making themselves home and  pitching the tents .  Less happy about the  all night  rain, followed by nearly all day rain today and cool temps...  Hope  everybody is warm and dry.

TJ posted on the FB about trying to get to Nickelsville on the bus + this poem - a very sweet one:

10 years have past since ive been back
to the seattle streets i call home
I,ve missed the well known faces
and wondering around by road


And here a  story about Nickelsville from yesterday's KOMOnews:

SEATTLE - The homeless camp known as Nickelsville is back where it began.

Tents now sit in the same South Seattle lot where the camp first popped up in 2008, when Greg Nickels was still mayor of Seattle. The city forced everyone out in 2009 - sending them all over town to find new locations every three months.

While Seattle is in the process of finding the camp a permanent location, residents say this is their choice.

"It's a good middle ground - a lot of green, a lot of room for people to come in anytime they need to, good bus routes, only a few neighbors who might have a problem with us - and who we hope to negotiate with them in good faith," says Nickelsville resident Nate Martin.
The rest here....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nickelsville has moved. 2 days ahead of schedule.

Thursday 5/12/11 - tents are getting packed
No wonder the atmosphere in Nickelsville was crazy last Thursday when Lynnda and I went there to cook chicken pesto pasta.  2 huge trucks parked in front of the fire station made my heart skip a beat, so I stopped to take a few pics before entering.

Tracy was so nervous she could hardly speak, Richard was busy taking down the tents in the backyard, the cupboards were empty, people were milling frantically, the pasta was gone, and so were the pots, big kitchen utensils or most of them, anyway...  I went out to the truck and asked where the pots are:  Jimbo pointed his finger indicating the stuff behind him, tightly packed: 'there'... Anyway to retrieve them? 'Nope. Like half an hour of unpacking'.  All of this 3 days before move?  I kind of lost it: 'don't you guys need to eat for the next 2.5 days?  What about today's dinner? I thought we discussed it last Monday!' - I started to yell at Richard. Lynnda stayed cool and said: stop it, we will cook in the two pots left, whatever we can, and we can get pasta at Fred Meyer; it's crazy enough without you adding to it. True dat - thank you, my friend, and so we did.

Jarvis and Nate helped us with chopping, and Richard emerged in time from tent packing to deal with garlic - the pesto pasta turned very good, especially that it was fortified with Lynnda's homegrown basil.  A few people stopped to shake our hands and said words like: 'well, if nobody officially thanked you yet, than I am' - I though it weird, only now know why:  all the talk about Sunday service before moving was just that: a talk, they knew we might not see each other for a while...

5/12/11 • Bye, bye pasta and pots. Note Nickelsville's portable container garden in forefront - hope it wasn't forgotten!
The same night there was a concert at Nickelsville.  Friday, the next day the Black Caravan  procession, which I was tempted to join, but got stuck at some other errand.  My heart was heavy all day with concern about the people in Nickelsville, so I resolved to stop by on Saturday afternoon with bunch of shopping bags for the last minute packing. This morning, Saturday, I woke up to an announcement email posted by Ibu Oni last night:

Our new location is our First Location. We have come full circle!!!
We are at 2nd Ave SW and W MArginal Way SW
7116 W Marginal Way SW



1)  Nickelsville isn't an indoor shelter for 99 people; it's an eco-village for up to 1,000!

2)  Every night at old Firestation #39 we were turning people away - a larger site is needed to save human lives!  8 homeless people have already died outside or by violence this year.

3)  Sleeping in the Bay Station for a Fire Truck, with 20 other people, doesn't afford anyone privacy and everyone deserves that - especially families and couples.

4)  Last May, 2010 we were advised to give the new Mayor a chance.
Last August the Mayor's Encampment Panel got started and recommended giving us a permanent site.  7 months ago we were told that the Sunny Jim site would be ready in 5 months.  Now Council President Conlin says he'll decide what to do by the fall.  We think this fall Council President Conlin will say maybe something will be ready next spring.


5) Nickelsville has pets, couples and kids. They all need privacy and simple sturdy sleeping structures.  None of these are possible long term at Firestation #39.  That is why we asked Mayor McGinn on February 22, 2011 to let SHARE and WHEEL take over Old Firestation #39 on May 15th, and begin operating it as shelter.

6)  We told Richard Conlin about this but he ignored Nickelsville.
SHARE/WHEEL told Richard Conlin about this but he ignored SHARE/WHEEL.
Richard Conlin hasn't written us or anyone about working something out.  Richard Conlin hasn't written the Mayor and asked him to keep the Old Firehouse open for Nickelsville or anyone.

7)  Richard Conlin's aides will talk the talk about Old Firestation #39 with any tom, dick or harriet, but Richard Conlin hasn't walked the walk to make anything happen.

8)  That's why we've got to make something happen for ourselves. Richard Conlin won't do it for us!

The Black Cat Caravan (has arrived!)
by Tex Shirey & The Nickelsville Central Committee

While checking the Internet google maps (click here) for Nickelsville's  new location I noticed a blurb in The Stranger's Slog; read it for yourself and don't forget to check the comments - some of our fellow citizens have pretty callous hearts or very weak, prone to propaganda minds; fortunately there are a few sane and sympathetic comments as well - hopefully more will appear as the day goes:

Nickelsville Moves to West Seattle
posted by CIENNA MADRID on FRI, MAY 13, 2011 at 3:53 PM
Nickelsville has moved to 7116 W. Marginal Way SW, two days before their move deadline, according to a press release sent today by the group. Nickelodeons were invited by the city to stay at their old location—Fire Station 39 in Lake City—for a few more months, however, Nickelsville's press release notes that, "Nickelsville isn't an indoor shelter for 99 people; it's an eco-village for up to 1,000!"

DON'T FORGET TO VISIT NICKELSVILLE'S FACEBOOK PAGE - that's where the whole communication action is!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The first goodbyes

• Nickelsville is  MOVING 5/15 & YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!!! - please, read the bar on the right.

Joanna was in the parking lot when I was unpacking my car last Monday and she came up to chat about her big news: the family is moving back to California. 'We gave it 6 months here. It didn't work.  It's hard to survive, and I'm never going to leave California again, as long as I live'. They are going back this Thursday on the Greyhound bus, Andy already has his $280 ticket, and Joanna will get hers and LeeAnn's on Wednesday, when she receives the last payment form Jack in the Box, where she works.  The paycheck will be not enough to cover the tickets, but a charitable organization (Joanna wasn't sure about its name: 'Mother's hand'?) is paying the difference.  What is LeeAnn's reaction?  "She is too little, she doesn't understand, but she is happy to hear that she will see Nana again.  There is much to be said for family support; here we have no family to help us'. Joanna and her family will be staying with her mother or possibly sister once back in California.  Good luck to the 3 of you and sorry Seattle didn't work for you - happy travels home!

T.J. was just leaving Nickelsville and also stopped to chat: 'I'm only visiting here now, found my long last love and staying with him now, in a place near Gasworks park'. She, too, won't be moving when Nickelsville moves, but she will come visit her friends.  In her hands she had carefully wrapped in a tribal blanket a native american flute, that once belonged to her Klinkit father: 'He performed healing ceremonies with it for 20 years'. Can you play it?  'Oh, yah'.  Too bad I didn't know that - love Native American flute playing, but T.J. was saying goodbye now.

Once in the kitchen I found Jarvis cooking on 2 burners already, and he will need the 3rd one for the  rice: long promised traditional red beans and rice and if he doesn't cook it now... Who knows when there will be a kitchen available anytime soon.  He was making a meat version and a vegetarian version - any of the stuff meant for peanut soup would be of use for you?  'Naw, cabbage, zucchini, cilantro or tomato cans don't really fit this traditional southern recipe, I already had and used onions, unless you have the green ones'.  Nope.  'Oh. Any peppers?".  Now pray to me - I have 5 of them!  Jarvis bows and waves his hands up and down: 'You are my Kitchen Goddess, now hand over the peppers!'  After a bit of horse-playing he swiftly and expertly chops them into little bits and throws them into the pot.  Tracy said she will find use for the other veggies: 'maybe I'll cook a cabbage stew'.

With no soup to cook I briefly visit with Julie - she will be moving with Nickelsville - 'I have no other choice'...  Then join Tracy, Richard and Terry at the table; Mike, LeRoy, Jeremy (holding his aching head) and other folks coming in and out. Richard says not everyone will be moving along with Nickelsville: 'some people find it too nerve-racking and/or afraid to be distressed or arrested'.  Tracy is speaking about the upcoming week of cleaning and packing - 'everything in refrigerators has to go, so we can clean them'; Terry mentions trucks showing up on Wednesday or Thursday to haul away not needed stuff.  The atmosphere is palpable with anxiety: Richard tells me to better check with Scott regarding Thursday chicken pesto pasta: 'who knows if the stoves will be there, or electricity and so much is happening now'. (Later checked with Scott: 'stove and electricity will be there, pasta much appreciated, although advisable before 5:15 pm, as at 6:30 Jim Page and Joe Martin will be giving a music performance, complete with a meal of chili dogs - the only meal planned so far; BTW, you are invited to the performance').

About that chili last Thursday: so how much longer did you cook it after Lynnda and I left?  'Well, about 3 hours, but then it was soft and good', said Mike. 'And cookies!  I found cookies in the office, everybody forgot about them, so I brought them in and we had them after chili', added Tracy.

Nickelsville has a facebook page now, please visit:

While looking for some articles about homelessness to add to this post I came across a promising 2/8/11 snippet about 'Nickelsville model coming to Hawaii?', so I clicked it, and what a load of crap I found there!  Was wondering if it's any good to link to this obvious propaganda, but  was so taken aback by soulless and loathsome attitude of the writer, that thought exposing how some people frame other people's  misfortunes could be quite educating... The author speaks about the 'homelessness industry' - as if he honestly believed there is a manufacturing plant somewhere, cranking up the homeless people solely to annoy the rest of the population and embarrass the politicians.  Yeah, right. And, oh horror,  the homeless are self-organizing in Seattle, instead of waiting for some private corps to run them.    Here is a fragment of this despicable piece, full of arguments no doubt known to people who has been active in fighting homelessness,  but eye-opening to the rest of us:

Seattle’s tent cities are organizing bases for self-appointed activists who use the homeless to extract money and other benefits from various government agencies.  The residents consist predominantly of methamphetamines addicts.  They have also become a factional tool in Seattle politics used on behalf of Seattle politicians who give the organizers money and against those politicians who don’t.  The camps are moved from one district to another to embarrass and extort politicians.

On positive note and to balance the crap above I also found an article in 2/2/11 Seattle Post Globe, truly informing about issues of being homeless; enjoy:

David Bloom, one of the early organizers of the Center, says the trend Cole forecasted has continued unabated and is anything but encouraging. “Since 1980 in Seattle, the growth in numbers of homeless people has continued to outstrip our capacity – some would say our willingness – to provide shelter for those who need it,” Bloom said.
“Despite many caring and creative efforts to develop more shelter and more affordable housing, we’ve witness growing numbers of people who are homeless on any given night,” he explained. “That number is now approaching 10,000, while it was less than 1,000 at the time of the first One Night Count – a tenfold increase.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thursday: Chili and Andrea's well passed exam

• Nickelsville is  MOVING 5/15 & YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!!! - please, read the bar on the right.

Tracy pre-soaked 5 lbs of mixed kinds of beans a night before, and Lynnda pre-cooked ground beef. I got to Nickelsville an hour earlier than usual to meet with Glen, who is kindly helping me create a facebook page for one of my blogs - that was good for the beans, as they started to cook before Lynnda got there, but not good enough after all:  later, after total of 2.5+ hours of bean cooking and what we presented as finished chili, Mike pronounced them as undercooked still - and so we left it on a small flame to hopefully finish after Lynnda and I left.  Perhaps today I'll find out if it was ever soft and done.

Small cooking note:  Lynnda and I differ on chili cooking methodology - she believes and has experience of no harm in putting beans and tomatoes together for cooking, while I believe (and have a sad experience of it) that acid in tomatoes may stop some beans from ever cooking soft, therefore tomatoes should be added after the beans are completely soft.  Well, they WERE soft enough for me (I like beans in my chili still intact) when we added tomatoes after more than 1.5 hrs of cooking time, but apparently general taste for beans in chili is way softer than mine, so we may find out the about the tomato/bean theories...  I should remember to ask today.
As you can see Garrett and Richard are the real chefs; Mike (in the middle)  is just sitting, and  like a good overlord doing nothing but smiling:)
When Glen and I went to the nearby library (Nickelsville internet connection is too weak) to tackle the facebook issue,  Garrett and Richard set out to chop the mountain of onions, green peppers, also garlic and cilantro and open cans of tomatoes..  By the time we were back the bowls of chopped veggies were almost ready and Lynnda appeared with Thursday usual: a mother/daughter production of many cookies - THANK YOU LYNNDA AND BROOKE!  As usual the cookies traveled to the office, so nobody mistakes them as appetizer.

Lynnda also brought 2 big bags of tortilla chips which we planned as chili companion, but as the beans took seemingly forever to cook, the chips started to disappear while guacamole dip and salsa miraculously appeared as a companion to them:)...  Having nothing to do but season and watch the beans slowly simmer, Lynnda and I cooked 2 lbs of rice to go with chili instead.  Before we left Nickelsville  - the darned beans still cooking and not soft enough -  Lynnda set out in the bowl another chili companion she brought:  shredded cheese.  Wonder if the cheese lasted  - I can easily imagine that someone creatively made nachos from remaining chips and cheese while waiting  for the beans in chili to get soft (at this point I can only hope that Lynnda's bean/tomato theory was right, and mine was wrong).

Andrea got 90% on her exams!  While we were cooking, a migraine stricken Jeremy (he ended up at ER the night before, but only slightly better now) kept coming to the kitchen to anxiously watch through the window for his wife Andrea: she had one of the final exams that day in the vet school she is attending, and Jeremy was hoping to see her coming off the bus home and to find out how she did.  When she finally appeared the whole kitchen was pregnant with expectations and we were all delighted to hear that she aced the exam.  BRAVO ANDREA AND CONGRATULATIONS!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Butoh dance in Nickelsville

• Nickelsville is  MOVING 5/15 & YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!!! - please, read the bar on the right.

Thank you Sheri, Mary, Will, Joan, Doug and Helen + David and Herbert (music and lights) for sharing your talents and giving us a  night of wondrous art of butoh dancing!
(Click on pics to see  larger version)

Last Saturday the dancers came about an hour before the performance to set up music, lights and prepare the stage:  they put yellow tape on the floor, creating 6 lines, then they disappeared to change and get ready.  5 minutes before the performance Julie read and introductory note about butoh and then the music started.  Each of us probably saw what our senses prepared us to see but here is my short description (not a dance-trained eye)...

The artists  appeared on the side and proceeded in a mannequin-like state to dance their way each into separate line, every performer in a sort of non-descriptive trench coat and each carrying a suitcase.  What followed was a fusion of modern dance and theater influenced by the Japanese culture: 6 stories and 6 lives told sometimes waltzing happily, sometimes whirling half-crazily, sometimes hopping in bewilderment, sometimes  stooped in pain, and sometimes contorted or curled in a fetal position.  Sometimes twisting, leaping or treading solo, and sometimes  getting involved into dance of lives intermingling - looking casual here, accidental or purposeful there.  We found out the things the dancers carried in their suitcases, as each of them opened his or her and used the content to create another persona, perhaps from a different stage of life:  green tutu-like skirt, white caftan, makings of an eastern warrior, red high heels, dramatic kimono, an umbrella. The suitcases also carried the gifts for each other between their shared lives and even presents for the audience - we enjoyed being suddenly pelted with candies....

After the performance the people of Nickelsville were invited to ask questions, and I learned quite a bit from them, too, as naturally sum of collective knowledge and understanding is greater than individual one.   All in all it was a a fantastic, delightful and  thought-provoking performance which was very well received by the audience, in particular  by 4 y.o. LeeAnn, who not only sat quietly through the entire rather adult-addressed form of  theater, but after the end she enthusiastically joined the troupe.
LeeAnn joins the troupe
Sorry that my pics are lousy, I blame it on a camera which doesn't handle darkness well, as I am a perfect photographer:).  Not.

Artists and some of the audience

Friday, April 29, 2011

Check out music from Glen Still - Spoken Word & Monday usual: peanut soup

• Nickelsville is  MOVING 5/15 & YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!!! - please, read the bar on the right.

• Another song from Glenn Still for your listening and thinking pleasure above. 

• One thing about blogging:  noticed that unless the post is made close to the time it describes it's almost impossible to come up with anything but bland platitudes:  the fleeting impressions are gone and so are the observations made in that time.  Unfortunately, I waited too long to write about last Monday and now my head has something like this to say: came, cooked and left:(....  I know i talked to a few people about how did the Easter egg hunting/barbecue go, but can only report 'fine', as all the details left me, except that it wasn't raining....

I briefly talked to John of China, his going back home now moving from April to May - last week he missed his wife's birthday and was pretty dispirited about it.  Have you called her? 'The day didn't start in China yet, waiting for her to wake up'...  Jarvis is out of Nickelsville, and in Tent City3 now.   Mike was making sure that we have everything we need for cooking, and Richard went through the veg donation pile to see what could be salvaged.  That last task was somewhat depressing,  the produce is likely donated the day of or day after 'sell date';  some of the things are half rotten already and if you leave them for another day or two, the entire content of package is one smelly mess.  I once volunteered in the food bank doing the same sorting job every week and thinking that in a perfect world it would be the poor people getting wonderfully fresh and nutritious produce that they desperately need, and the rich and healthy would have the job of sorting out the leftovers to see what could go well with their caviar and shrimp.   

All I have is pictures of Monday chopping team - by now it is quite easy to find a whole group of people doing this communal task of making gigantic pot of soup.   I know I enjoy this time together, when we talk and laugh and chop.
4/25/11 - Tony, a.k.a. L.A, Richard, Terry and Patricia - soup prep
4/25/11 - Tony a.k.a. L.A.  and Richard
Tomorrow is butoh dance performance in Nickelsville!  Hopefully I'll be able to post some pics.

• An item I found in Seattle Times, published 4/25/11:

Seattle homeless man and dog live in rowboat
The Seattle Times

Under the concrete pillars of the Highway 520 bridge, anchored in a foot of water, William Kaphaem and his dog, Lulu, live in an aluminum 14-foot rowboat.

They seem to have found peace at the edge of the Arboretum.  Kaphaem has rigged the boat so it's covered by a 20-by-18-foot brown plastic tarp, with a few feet of headroom. It seems to blend in with the muddy bottom by the bridge posts of the Montlake Boulevard East exit.

You wouldn't even know there was somebody inside unless you yelled over the noise of the rumbling cars and trucks above, "Hey, Three Stars!"

Kaphaem, 51, says he has Mohawk ancestry and so he prefers to be called by that name, which reflects the outdoors.   Hearing your voice, Kaphaem - Three Stars - will lift up the tarp that serves as his cocoon.  "Actually, a lot of light gets through," he says.
The rest is here....

Check out the comments under the article, too -  I find them more interesting than the article itself: some positive, but some complaining about the writer's trespassing privacy of the man:
I do not believe you should have published this article. He was doing just fine without any help from you.  Now he has officialdom looking into his situation. The state will want to charge rent for him anchoring on state property. The Coast Guard wants ot know what he is doing with waste. That will be the end of that.

I certainly can identify with complainers, since this is the very issue I struggle with on this blog - how to write about the homeless people without bringing an attention they might not wish upon themselves: which details are ok to share and which are too private - thanks people of Nickelsville for teaching me some of that!