You would think that living on the street would be cheaper than paying rent every month. However, it is not the case for this one client. I was shocked when I learned that our client would have more expenses overall living in his truck despite the rent he can save. The client initially called with suicidal emotions to ask for advice about moving from transitional housing to his truck. He has a bunch of credit card debt along with student loan debt, so he wishes by moving to his truck he can save the housing expense to pay off his debt. After doing some research, we have found that it would cost him way more to live in his truck and he could develop chronicle health issues as well. Living in his truck would mean that he no longer has his bed, kitchen, bathroom, and a free parking spot for the truck. Our client is very tall. Sleeping in the back of his truck could cause problems to his knee and he would have a hard time staying warm in the truck during winter times. Not having a kitchen would force him to eat out more, and often eating out is more expensive and less healthy than cooking at home. Additionally, he has no tool to prepare food he could be getting from the Food Bank. The client said that he has access to a gym’s bathroom during the day, so he’s covered there. However, not having a free and safe place to park is a critical problem. He could receive parking tickets or the risk of being towed. Criminals could also break into his car while he’s sleeping. Those are very dangerous and real problems. When the client came in for the meeting, he sounded very pessimistic and hopeless, talking about how difficult it is to pay off his debt and that bankruptcy is not an option. After Judy dissected and explained his financial situation, he was able to understand the pros and cons of living in his truck and most importantly he was able to see hope. That moment, when he left with a smile on his face, will keep me motivated to devote my time in social works.
By Alex S.
I don’t eat enough vegetables. The thought first occurred to me in May during the first few weeks of this summer. Once again, I made the commitment to use these four months to be more physically active, get enough sleep, and start eating better. While looking forward to Duke Engage Seattle, where I would be working on a farm and cooking for myself, I planned to use this opportunity to become more intentional about my personal health and nutrition. So I pinned a few vegetarian recipes from Pinterest, tried a kale smoothie once, and thought that was really all there was to it.
On my first day assisting with the children’s programming sponsored by Lettuce Link, vegetables came up again. Every summer, the Seattle Community Farm and Marra Farm host educational childen’s programs. Groups of kids spend around an hour and a half learning about who grows their food, how it gets to their plate, and what should be on it. One of the goals of the program is to introduce youth to nutrition habits that will allow them to live healthier and longer lives. How do you do that? Snacks, of course. Fried rice, green egg omelets, and a salad with homemade ranch dressing- good food with good vegetables. On the first day of class, I was helping the students with coloring in MyPlate, which are nutritional guidelines put forth by the USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama. MyPlate illustrates the five building blocks of a healthy diet. Vegetables are the largest group on the illustration, larger than grains and much larger than fruits, dairy, and protein. Half of your plate at every meal should be fruits and vegetables. That was news to me. I should eat more vegetables.
A couple days later and it was harvest day at the farm. The lack of vegetables in my life became apparent again. The first thing that our Farm Coordinator, Scott, does with volunteers at the farm is make them guess things. Of course, my first day on the farm was no exception. We wandered through the beds that were either just beginning to grow or h and he would ask me what vegetable or herb was growing there. Occasionally, I would get hints like “this one is a root vegetable”, or “this one is the trendiest vegetable”, or “you eat this in salsa”. And sometimes, I could identify the thin feathery leaves of a carrot poking out from the ground or the spiky branch that is characteristic of a zucchini plant. Most times, I would make a more or less random guess and hope that I wasn’t embarrassing myself. Admittedly, I had never seen, tasted, or heard of rainbow chard in my life. I need to learn more about where my food comes from. And I need to eat more vegetables.
I’m not very good at talking to people. I’m really not good at talking to strangers. Which is why it’s a logical step forward to say I am extremely uncomfortable with canvassing. Successful canvassing requires a delicate balance of choice words, a welcoming demeanor, and a person that is actually in the mood to hear what the stranger approaching them on the street has to say (this is the most difficult part, as you can imagine).
It also forces you to open yourself up to being vulnerable in the face of constant rejection. And to me, vulnerable is handing out flyers while wearing a giant red sandwich board that basically yells “STOP OIL TRAINS NOW” at everybody in a 20 foot radius--especially when those people are 100% interested in getting to the Mariners game you’re blocking and 0% interested in signing your petition.
Through the Washington Environmental Council (WEC), I helped organize 6 days of flyering in front of Mariners games to protest the oil trains that pass directly under Safeco field. Over the course of that week, we passed out over 2,000 flyers and only got a handful of signatures for our Stand Up to Oil petition (standuptooil.org). It was disappointing to see weeks of effort cumulate in so little response. Although my supervisor reminded me that educating the public is a huge part of the the work done at WEC, it was hard to see weeks of preparation result in minimal tangible payoff.
Summer in Seattle is great for photography. The city offers a combination of modern skyline and nature beauty. There are many parks in the city that are great for people to enjoy sunsets. In this blog I will review some of the parks that I’ve been to. If you are interested in sunset photography or you just enjoy seeing beautiful sunsets, read on!
The first spot I’m going to talk about is Alki beach. According to Wikipedia, Alki Beach Park is about 136 acres located in West Seattle. It is quite a travel from the U-district (20 minutes in a car; 1 hour and 20 minutes if you ride the bus), but it is a great spot for a group of friends to go in the afternoon and just hangout for the whole afternoon/evening. Alki beach will keep you entertained. There are many restaurants/bars alongside the beach, and they also have grills and spots for bonfire on the beach.
The second spot is Rizal Park. This park is located just south of downtown Seattle with a great view of Seattle skyline, however you cannot see the space needle from here. This park doesn’t offer much entertainment, but it is definitely a perfect spot for sunset photography. I love to take photos on the bridge next to the park. The bridge over watches the intersection of I-90 and I-5, the football stadium, and the skyline, making the photo composition very interesting.
By Alex L.
Two weeks ago, my lovely Alumni Partner Lily Su took Alex S. and I to lunch at a small Italian restaurant in Pioneer Square. The restaurant, Il Corvo, which means "the crow” in Italian, offers three different handmade pastas each day and opens only for lunch. You’d wonder how a restaurant that provides only a few menu choices could survive. But everyday, the tiny restaurant is always filled with customers with a line of people waiting along James Street, extending all the way to 3rd Avenue. Upon tasting the pasta for the first time, I would have to agree with The Stranger: the pasta is “really, really good.”
The three-dish menu concept of Il Corvo was mentioned in the book Modern Romance, which Alex S. read the day after our first meal at Il Corvo. The author, Aziz Ansari, was drawn to the limited choices offered by the restaurant. While the world forces us to make myriads of decisions, many of which do indeed benefit us, the sheer quantity can sometimes overwhelm us. Perhaps the fewer choices we have, the happier we would be.
When I first heard about the Legacy Project I was skeptical, puzzled, and unsure. I did not know how I was going to be able to draw a connection between my organization, Seattle Works, and my friend Krista’s organization Year Up Puget Sound. Seattle Works is an organization that does not have a specific focus or social injustice that it works with, rather it addresses many issues in the Seattle community indirectly by matching young Seattleites with different volunteer opportunities. Year Up Puget Sound, on the other hand, does address one specific issue. Namely, they provide low-income young adults a one-year intensive training program that includes a combination of hands-on skill development, college credits, and corporate internships. Once Krista and I sat down and discussed the project, though, we began to develop a clear vision for the legacy project.
Krista and I know that we want the focus of our video to be what both organizations do to help low-income young adults in the Puget Sound area, and what each organization can learn from the other about volunteer recruitment, appreciation, etc. However, as I reflected more and more on the work that Seattle Works does, and after my one-on-one with Leezel, I found myself wondering about the long-term impacts and goals of both Seattle Works and Year Up Puget Sound. I am extremely curious to compare and contrast the impact/lack of impact short-term and long-term volunteer opportunities create, the demographics of the volunteers for each organization, and how both organizations foster continued volunteer community engagement after their programs/opportunities are over.
I thought I knew about goal-setting. It’s how you get from A to B. I’ll write one page every day this week and by Friday the essay will have finished itself. Anti-racism goals don’t finish themselves. Most people hide from goals that harbor failure in their very structure. The success-failure dichotomy becomes obsolete and pursuing such a lofty goal becomes a matter of lessening the degree of failure. Solid Ground seeks out such goals.
Solid Ground corroborates its commitment to addressing root causes of poverty by holding Anti-racism meetings that encourage personal and professional goal setting. I can envision in a different work culture, employees might adopt a going-through-the-motions attitude during this workshop that would never yield an authentic impact. The earnestness in wish Solid Ground employees took responsibility for their own ability to tackle oppressions moved me. They wanted to help and they meant it.
It’s difficult to set goals where you cannot measure tangible results. You put your pride at stake. Perhaps, you forfeit a sense of accomplishment. Systemic societal injustices are not the kind of problems that you can work on a little today and a little tomorrow, and by the end of the week you can move on to the next goal. They require a permanent commitment. You have to identify the injustice, and decide you want to help. Then you have to mean it.
During the commute to the Rainier Valley food bank, there is a one second moment that foreshadows exactly how the day is going to go. I am riding the number 7 southbound bus towards Rainier Beach and my anticipation grows stop after stop. By my third week, I’m waiting for that moment with about 50% apprehension and 50% excitement. The Rainier Valley food bank comes in to focus. From the bus window, as it barrels by past the food bank in transit to the next stop, I can see how many trucks are being unloaded with food, how many guests are receiving numbers to be served for the day, and how many volunteers I will soon be joining the ranks of. The calm before the storm, if you will.
There are a lot of moving parts to the food bank. In fact, I don’t think there are any parts that don’t move at that place. The food bank is many things-organized chaos, extremely diverse, surprisingly efficient, and most admirably, committed to serving the larger Seattle community justly and equitably. It is a mixture of smells from the fresh produce from the Seattle Community Farm, cakes and croissants from local bakeries, and of course, a hint of compost (Seattle thing). It is a mixture of languages. Located in one of the most diverse zip codes in the country, languages spoken include English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Filipino, Vietnamese and others too. It’s also a mixture of music. There’s a boom box that sits in the garage and plays what can be described as nothing short of jams, including Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, Hoobastanks “The Reason”, and Chris Brown’s “These Hoes Ain’t loyal.” The end goal is to make the supply of food last and serve as many people as possible.
As one of 27 food banks in the city, between January and May of 2015 the Rainier Valley food bank has received over 10,000 unduplicated visits. In 2014, the food bank provided diapers, baby food, and formula to 25% of the infants receiving assistance from food banks in Seattle. (!!!) Food distribution days are Wednesdays and Saturdays, with Wednesdays being the “slow” day of the two. A slow day means around 400 visitors over the course of around 5 hours. In other words, people are moving through and they are moving through constantly. There are guests shopping for food, volunteers unpacking boxes, staff moving crates of produce, meat and poultry into the fridge, navigating through narrow aisles and spilling out into the driveway and street.