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. [...]

No comments:

Post a Comment