Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2018 Edition – Part One

By Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness

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Tess, Madison and Katie celebrate graduation with SU-themed treats from Cupcake Royale June 12.

This is always one of my least favorite tasks — saying farewell to a student team at the height of its camaraderie and success. This year, it happened in a blur. There was just too much going on at the end of the 2017-18 school year. In the final days leading up to graduation, we:

  • Co-hosted a major eventIgnite Project Homeless with The Seattle Times, June 7
  • Finished up final edits on the documentary our student team produced for Affordable Housing Week, “Central Division
  • Completed the infographic for the 2018 Count Us In point-in-time count of homelessness, for All Home (the third year in a row our student designer has created this piece)

In the midst of all this, the goodbye to our incredible team of students felt inadequate and hasty.

So it’s time for a more fitting farewell as we post our annual tribute to our graduating students and the incoming team — Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes. Part One is the hard goodbye, a look back at some of the incredible work by our student team Katie Bradley, Tess Riski and Madison Vucci.

A staggered but high-powered start

Let’s start with some words from the first student to join the team, Tess.

“When I first started at the Seattle U Project on Family Homelessness, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d gotten myself into. I knew I was hired onto the project to help combat family homelessness in the region, but I wasn’t sure how to go about creating those solutions. And I don’t think I was alone in that feeling. In fact, I believe that many in our region – Seattle, King County, the broader Pacific Northwest – feel a sense of powerlessness at the thought of ending homelessness. How can one person, after all, solve an entire crisis? I see my fellow residents in Seattle internalize this belief. For some, it is expressed through anger at the homeless, guilt within themselves or dismay for the government. (Seattle City Council is a notoriously easy scapegoat, though I think many still struggle to point out what, specifically, our elected officials – who we voted into office – are doing wrong.) It is, after all, a lot easier to blame others for the homelessness crisis than to reflect internally and ask oneself:

1) How have I or the systems from which I benefit exacerbated this crisis?

2) What can I do personally to make a positive impact?

This internal reflection is what I spent the last twelve months doing. And during these twelve months, I learned that, while there are many naysayers out there, there are also dozens of wonderful organizationsparticularly our partners – who strive to answer those two aforementioned questions on a daily basis.” — Tess

We got off to an unusual start this year because our team was somewhat patchwork till January 2018, due to summer internships and a study abroad.  Till then, individually or in pairs, they produced some great work in summer and fall, including:

  • The Voter’s Guide on Housing and Homelessness website, a partnership with Solid Ground, Housing Development Consortium and Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness. Tess worked long hours building the site, where we posted responses from 12 of the 21 (!) Seattle mayoral candidates. The site drew more than 3,000 views before the primary.
  • A Get Out the Vote video that Tess and Madison put together right before the primary, garnering more than 1,200 views in one day.

 

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The online ad that Madison designed, which ran in Crosscut; it features her illustration of the two general-election candidates.
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Katie and Madison learned how to write poetry in the Pongo method, and how to teach others, at the October training.  

And then there was The Florida Project — our favorite film about family homelessness! Madison and Katie attended the screening in October, and Katie wrote an insightful review, in which she addressed issues like overcoming the judgments that start to creep in while watching this challenging young mother try to keep her family afloat.

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Katie and Madison at the Pacific Place screening of “The Florida Project” in October 2017.

The team comes together just in time for HHAD

It wasn’t till January that Katie, Madison and Tess came together to work as a team — but then they were unstoppable. Here they are in January as they started planning their incredibly successful events in winter and spring 2018.

Team 2017-18 in January 2018
L-R: Madison, Tess and Katie, taking a break from their “craft project” creating images for their HHAD events.

From the day they first started finger-painting images and slogans about homelessness for postcards, stickers and posters, it was clear this would be an unprecedented campus event for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD). It culminated in a visit to the office of Sen. Christine Rolfes, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, where they presented more than 500 postcards from the SU community urging action on homelessness in Washington. They even got mentioned in Sen. Rolfes’ constituent newsletter.

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The team earns recognition in Sen. Rolfes’ newsletter.

 

To document their experience, they created unique reflections; Katie created a flipbook, Madison wrote about the design project and Tess reflected on the “imposter syndrome” she overcame as a first-time advocate. Check out their projects here.

No senioritis: Taking on their biggest project

Our usual capstone event each school year is a campus and community event for Affordable Housing Week. This team decided that their event would be a screening of a documentary about gentrification in the Central District, which they set out to produce themselves. It was a massive task, but they handled it splendidly, interviewing five leaders (including our project alum Ashwin!) and filming throughout the changing Central District.

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In the editing room at SU, home away from home for several weeks: L-R, Madison, Katie and Tess.

On May 15, with moments to spare, they finished the film, “Central Division: A documentary exploring gentrification in the Central District,” and screened it for about 50 students, staff and community members. The event included a post-screening conversation with community leaders, which they facilitated. Here’s their recap and reflection on what they learned.

 

 

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L-R: Madison, Katie and Tess facilitated a discussion with guests Miriam Roskin, Patience Malaba and Sean Abdul.

While most students would then focus on graduating, they decided they wanted to go back in the editing room and polish up the film. It’s now available to watch on YouTube.

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Once a student on our team, now a local expert and important partner: Ashwin Warrior talks about gentrification in the documentary.

 

Overcoming obstacles

All this great work was set against a highly stressful spring marred by tragedy.

Tess, in her role as investigative editor for campus newspaper The Spectator, broke the story of the theft of stacks of our student newspaper because a faculty member deemed the cover inappropriate. It led to some painful campus-wide conversations about inclusivity. (But it also earned The Spectator and its adviser, Prof. Sonora Jha, an award from the regional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for their courage.)

We also lost one of our co-workers, Adrian Mayorga-Altamirano, our department’s student assistant who died unexpectedly in April. Taking time to grieve was important for our team, and we will always feel the loss of Adrian, a business student who we remember for his brilliance and helpfulness.

What’s next for the team

Some parting thoughts from Madison.

“From brainstorms, to crunch-time, to celebrations, to overtime, and all in between, we were the best team of three I could have dreamed to be. Together, we pushed one another to new levels and always inspired the further development of our ideas. We had one another’s backs and always gave equal commitment and partnership, even though we were all full-time students with at least one other job commitment each. I feel honored to have worked with these ladies and wouldn’t change anything about our time together.” — Madison

Clearly, saying goodbye was also bittersweet for these amazing young women, who truly enjoyed and were inspired by each other.

With graduation behind them, our trio joins the pantheon of distinguished project alumni and sets forth into exciting new ventures:

  • Katie Bradley, Strategic Communications and Public Affairs graduate, will start a job at Amazon in marketing later this summer.
  • Tess Riski, Journalism graduate, starts grad school at Columbia School of Journalism this fall.
  • Madison Vucci, Digital Design graduate, will be freelancing as a designer and flinging awesome pies as she plans her next chapter.

Congratulations to all three of them and many, many thanks for their stellar work this year for our advocacy partners, our university and our project!

Team 2017-18 in January 2018-2

 

A Look Ahead from Katie

“The experiences you will gain by working on the Project are seriously impressive. Take note of all that you do and have pride over what you accomplish.  I was able to develop so many new skills – like videography and making a flipbook — by working on the Project. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and push beyond your boundaries. You will gain more skills with the challenge and will have way more fun as you learn. I am so excited to see the work that you do and what is ahead for the Project!” — Katie 

Coming this fall: Part Two — Happy Hellos, as we welcome the new students to our team.

“Central Division” — Behind the Scenes on the Making of the Gentrification Documentary

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By Katie Bradley, with Tess Riski and Madison Vucci

Student Project Assistants, 2017-18

 

Note: For the third year in a row, our student assistants planned a campus event in support of Affordable Housing Week in King County, May 14 – May 18. This year’s team – Katie Bradley, Tess Riski, and Madison Vucci – decided to make a documentary focused on the gentrification of the Central District and the impact it has on access to affordable housing. On May 15, they hosted the premiere screening of their documentary and led a panel discussion after the film. Afterward, they reflected on what went well, what could be improved, what surprised them, and what they learned. 

First, here’s the film on YouTube:

 

Our purpose for making the documentary, “Central Division,” was to showcase the impact of gentrification in the Central District in relation to affordable housing. As Seattle University students, we recognize how close our school is to the Central District and how many of our peers and students live off campus there. In our four years of attending Seattle University, we have witnessed the changing the Central District and have questioned the impact we have as students individually and as an institution as a whole on the black community in the Central District.

We decided to make a documentary so that it could be passed along to other communities and leave a longer impression as a conversation starter for Affordable Housing Week. Continue reading

Katie’s Declassified HHAD Survival Guide

 

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From the cover of my Declassified HHAD Survival Guide flipbook. L-R: Tess, Me, Madison.

By Katie Bradley, Project Assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness

 

For my Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD) reflection, I decided to create a flipbook describing my experience and what I learned throughout the day. An online flipbook is a new version of the traditional flipbook — a series of pictures that appear to be animated when you flip through them quickly. I felt like HHAD was a lively growth experience for me, and wanted my reflection to be equally dynamic, both visually and physically.

I also wanted to provide insight into what HHAD was like for me and share what future HHAD attendees can expect throughout the day.

The “Declassified HHAD Survival Guide” flipbook showcases my experience, while providing recommendations for the process of preparing for, attending, and reflecting on Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day.

Continue reading

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day

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Our team at HHAD. Image by Digital Design project assistant Madison Vucci.

By Tess Riski, Project Assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness

Up until recently, I had never considered myself to be an “advocate.” The term just didn’t seem to fit quite right. Being an advocate, I had thought to myself, was all about quantity, as if there is an advocacy checklist that looks something like this:

□ Attends multiple rallies each month;

□ Dedicates 40+ hours a week to saving the world;

□ Eats-drinks-breathes their chosen cause.

The more boxes you can tick off, I had thought to myself, the closer you are to being a bona-fide advocate. I didn’t tick many boxes, therefore I felt I simply did not meet the minimum qualifications.

Continue reading

“When You’re Proud of What You’ve Done” — Inside the Pongo Poetry Training

Our new partnership will help bring this training to schools across the state

By Katie Bradley, Project Assistant, with Madison Vucci, Digital Design Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

 

Pongo Katie and Madison at training
Madison (R) and me smiling by the Pongo Teen Writing sign, feeling fulfilled after a day full of learning, writing, and growing. 

 

A good day is when you’re proud of what you’ve done. A bad day is when you forget all of what you can do.”

I hadn’t written poetry since I was in fourth grade. But after attending the Pongo Poetry Training in October, I had a subtle sense of accomplishment about what I had shared, and a sense of pride that I’ve been trained in a process that can help so many people.

As I rode back to campus, I had three takeaways from the training repeating in my mind.

Everyone has a story. The world wants to hear your story. Poetry can be about anything. Continue reading

“The Florida Project” — Homelessness at the End of the Rainbow

It’s up to advocates to connect this story of family homelessness to action

By Katie Bradley, project assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness

 

As the credits for The Florida Project rolled, I was floored. This movie made me cry while I sat in the theater, and I didn’t even cry when I saw Titanic for the first time as a child. A movie about a family living in poverty at an Orlando budget motel got to me in the most heart-wrenching way.

I had just seen a raw portrait of family homelessness set in contrast with the happiest place on earth, Disney World. It made me want to do something to help families living like those depicted in the film. But I felt lost with what I could do, and it left me with my head spinning.

Fortunately for me, I work with a bunch of people who think about family homelessness all the time, and we think that we may be able to connect audiences to action, which we will explore later. First, here’s a description of this remarkable film and what it says about family homelessness.

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Bobby (Willem Dafoe) and Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), the two main characters in the movie, at the real-life Magic Castle budget hotel.  Credit: IMDB.

 

The Florida Project is a breakout movie that depicts the struggles of living in poverty from a childhood perspective, set in a not-so-magical purple budget motel, the Magic Castle. The film depicts the often-unseen struggles of homelessness, which director and co-writer Sean Baker calls the “hidden homeless,” to represent the life of the modern-day “Little Rascals” who live a “life on the margins.” Continue reading

Seattle Candidate Forums, Fall 2017

 

 

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Patriot Pup photo credit: iStockPhoto

 

Seattle voters: Learn more about our next Mayor and City Council members at candidate forums this fall. Be sure to ask the candidates about their housing and homelessness platforms!

 

Candidate Forums (Check back for updates)

 

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Continue reading

Seattle Mayoral Candidate Forums in July

 

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We don’t have a dog in this fight. We just want you to vote! Image from Buzzfeed.

 

Seattle voters: Still trying to decide who to vote for in the mayoral race? Here’s a list of some candidate forums (fora?) coming up before the Aug. 1 primary. Be sure to ask these candidates about their housing and homelessness platforms!

UPDATE JULY 16: Check out our Voters’ Guide on Housing & Homelessness, published in partnership with Solid Ground, Housing Development Consortium and Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness.

 

July 8 (Saturday) Seattle Neighborhood Coalition forum, part 2, 9-11 a.m. at Central Area Senior Center. With the other three of the “Top 6” — Moon, McGinn, Hasegawa (first forum was June 10).

 

July 10 (Monday) – Seattle Youth Mayoral Candidate Forum, hosted by Seattle Young People’s Project. 6-8 p.m. Black Power Epicenter, 6218 Beacon Ave S. Ages 22 and under invited. Candidates: Cary Moon, Mary Martin, Nikkita Oliver, Harley Lever, Gary Brose, Jenny Durkan*, Mike McGinn*. *apparently tentative

 

July 11 (Tuesday)Candidate Survivor, hosted by The Stranger, partnering with Washington Bus. 8 p.m. at Neumo’s. “Top 6” candidates plus Greg Hamilton and Jason Roberts (chosen by poll).

 

July 13 (Thursday) – Seattle Mayoral Forum, hosted by Allied Arts & Forterra. Doors open 6 p.m., event 7-9 p.m., Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. Top 6 invited. Enrique Cerna moderating.

 

July 15 (Saturday)CIRCC Mayoral Candidates Forum, hosted by Coalition of Immigrants Refugees and Communities of Color, at Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. No indication as of July 7 as to which candidates are attending.

 

July 17 (Monday)Seattle Mayoral Debate, hosted by KING, KUOW, Geekwire and City Club, 6:30-8 p.m., Impact Hub. “Top 6” candidates. Ross Reynolds and Natalie Brand moderating. Top 6 invited. KING and KUOW will air live, and Geekwire will livestream.

 

July 18 (Tuesday)Candidate Forum, hosted by Eastlake Community Council. 7-9:30 p.m., Pocock Rowing Center, 3320 Fuhrman Ave. Candidates for mayor plus District 8 & 9 City Council. Submit questions to info@eastlakeseattle.org.

 

July 19 (Wednesday)Queering Politics Candidate Forum, hosted by LGBTQ Allyship, Southside Commons, 6-9 p.m. With mayoral candidates Nikkita Oliver, Bob Hasegawa, Jenny Durkan, Jessyn Farrell, Mike McGinn, Cary Moon, Jason Roberts, and Alex Tsimerman. Also attending are select Position 8 & 9 candidates. Nicole Keenan, executive director of the Fair Work Center, will moderate.

 

July 20 (Thursday)Dark Horse Mayoral Forum, 6-9 p.m., Box House, 124 S. Washington St. Hosted by “dark horse” Jason Roberts. With mayoral candidates Casey Carlisle, Greg Hamilton, Michael Harris, Harley Lever, James Norton and Jason Roberts.


Any others? Please send them to hinrichc@seattleu.edu. Thanks!

Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2017 Edition — Part Two, the Hellos

Tess Madison Katie

 

A few weeks ago, we said goodbye to our wonderful project team from the 2016-17 school year. Now comes the “happy” part — welcoming a new team of Seattle U students. Say hello to three new project assistants, all with different backgrounds but a common desire to make a difference in the work to end family homelessness.

 

Tess Riski, Project Assistant

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A rising senior double-majoring in Journalism and Teaching for the Humanities, Tess Riski joined us in mid-June 2017. After some orientation and training, she quickly jumped into our busy summer.

On her first official day in the office, she wrote about what she learned during #SeaHomeless, the day of concerted reporting on homelessness by 20 different local media organizations. She’s also helping us with our collaboration on a voter education project about Seattle’s mayoral election with housing and homelessness partners, including an online voters’ guide and the fall candidate forum.

Finally, she’ll be helping us prepare for the upcoming project with Pongo Teen Writing and Schoolhouse Washington, before doing a study abroad this fall.

You can read more about her here. Welcome, Tess!

 

Madison Vucci, Digital Design Project Assistant

Madison Vucci photo

Senior Madison Vucci is the fifth Digital Design student to serve on our team. When she joins us in mid-July, we’ll draw upon her design skills to help promote the voter education project and the Pongo project.

Madison says an early understanding of inequality in America is the root of what pushed her to make an impact on society with her art.

Digital Design Prof. Naomi Kasumi, who every year recommends the design student she feels is the best fit for our project, connected us to Madison. Prof. Kasumi first introduced us to Madison’s work by showing Catherine one of her class projects — a phenomenally creative and highly functional civil rights tool that maybe Madison can share more about sometime. Thank you, Prof. Kasumi, for yet again sending a great design student our way.

Check out Madison’s background here. Welcome, Madison!

 

Katie Bradley, Project Assistant

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This fall, Katie Bradley will join our team after a summer internship at Amazon. Katie is a senior double-majoring in Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, which means her education straddles both our previous home in Communications and our current home in the Institute of Public Service.

Katie also works as a resident assistant in one of the SU residence halls and serves as executive vice president of SU American Marketing Association. She learned about our project from her friend and fellow Strat Comm major, our just-graduated project assistant Shan Yonamine. (Thanks, Shan!)

When she’s officially on campus this fall, we’ll ask her to write her bio. Till then, we await her arrival with great anticipation. Welcome, Katie!

 

 

Flashback: Revisit some of our previous project teams:

We’ve had many more awesome students on our team — most recently, Haley, Krista, Paige and Emma — and apparently we didn’t do a tribute to all of them because they graduated at different times during the year. You can see some of their great work by entering their names in the search box below.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Learned About Family & Youth Homelessness from #SeaHomeless

Tess Riski headshot

By Tess Riski, Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Editor’s Note: Seattle University Journalism and Teaching for Humanities rising senior Tess Riski recently joined our project team. This is her first post for our project. Read more about her here.

 

All day this past Wednesday, June 28, a host of Seattle media outlets participated in #SeaHomeless and concentrated their reporting on a group of people often kept in the shadows of mainstream news coverage: those experiencing homelessness.

I just started my position as Project Assistant at the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness, and this last week has been an intense learning process for me. Continue reading