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