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

IMG_6005

By Katie Bradley, with Tess Riski and Madison Vucci

 

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.

In the past our project has hosted a screening of the “American Refugees”  animated short films and a Renters’ Rights Workshop  for Affordable Housing Week. So we wanted our documentary to build off of the past events and model what the past project teams found to be helpful and worthwhile.

We hoped that the documentary and panel discussion would be a relevant and helpful tool for sparking conversation about the Central District and affordable housing for students and community members. We also wanted to stimulate ideas about what our audience can do to preserve the Central District and inspire advocacy for affordable housing.

After premiering the documentary May 15 on campus for a crowd of students, staff and community members, we reflected on our experiences through some questions that our supervisor, Catherine, asked us.

What was your role? What did you produce or accomplish for the video and the event?

Katie: I played more of a project manager role as well as an event coordinator role. I entered the idea of producing a documentary with no video editing experience. I had never even played around in iMovie. So, using an advanced video editing software like Premiere was a whole new world to me. Luckily, Madison and Tess were able to take the editing “front seat” since they had worked with Premiere before. I was able to play a bigger role in coordinating interviews and preparing for the event, although I tried to help with editing as much as possible.

Tess: I partook in various roles throughout the project, but I think most of my time was spent editing the documentary itself. This was a laborious process, mostly due to the fact that I’ve only used Premiere once before. But after getting the hang of it, it became very enjoyable. Other than editing, I shot b-roll, interviewed subjects and organized meetings.

Madison: I collected footage, including interviews and b-rolls, and help to story-board and edit  the film. I also designed the flier and the credit scenes.

Central Division poster
Madison designed the poster for our premiere screening of “Central Division: A Documentary Exploring Gentrification of the Central District.” We decided the photo of the crane accurately highlighted the gentrification and development in the CD.

 

What do you think worked well for the video and the event?

Katie: The narrative arc of the video worked really well, and people seemed to like the end of the video, the big idea that Tyrone Brown shares. It really caused people to discuss his idea as well as ideas of their own. At the event, I think having a panel of professionals in advocating for affordable housing was really great because the audience had some hard-hitting questions after watching the documentary. (Our excellent panelists were Sean Abdul of Catholic Housing Services; Patience Malaba of Seattle for Everyone; and Miriam Roskin of Seattle Office of Housing.)

Tess: Passion. As a team, we are incredibly committed to the issues of affordable housing, homelessness and gentrification. After researching the Central District, the injustices that occurred seemed so self-evident to us and we were motivated to create something powerful and long-lasting in response to that. I think this passion was interwoven into the documentary and into our event itself.

Madison:  I think how we created dialogue by filming dialogue with other people gave a really human representation to the issues. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with topics and information like this and people start thinking it’s not our place to talk about it, when really it is everyone’s place.

 

IMG_6005
The team spent a lot of time editing clips for the documentary in the SU Media Production Center. L-R: Madison, Katie, Tess.

What do you wish you/we had done differently?

Katie: I wish we had started going through the interview footage earlier, so that we could have pieced together our narrative earlier in the process. By doing this, we would have had a more informed idea of what b-roll we wanted to use and we probably could have drafted our event questions and “script” earlier in the process. I also wish we had the time to interview more people. But considering that this was our first attempt at filmmaking as a team, I am extremely proud of it.

Tess: I would have left more time for editing. Our boss, Catherine, said that it takes approximately 800 hours to edit every one hour of film. Now, she was referring to Oscar-worthy films when she said that statistic. [Note from Catherine: I think I was exaggerating.] But the sentiment still sticks with me. Our documentary was 30 minutes in length at the end, but we probably spent 30 hours editing it total. I would have liked to have spread those 30 hours evenly over a month period or so instead of cramming them into a couple of weeks. But I’m happy with and deeply proud of the way the documentary turned out at the end.

Madison:  I would have liked to have gotten at least one more interview featuring someone who lives in the Central District today. [Note: They tried.] While we did get a lot of first-hand experiences of the Central District, they were still kind of detached from the community with an outsider view. I would have liked to have emphasized the voices of the people that are living there now in order to respect their experience, and to also immerse ourselves in the community even more.

Ashwin Warrior sharable image.png
Our interview footage had a lot of great insights, like this from SU alum and former project assistant Ashwin Warrior. Catherine pulled impactful quotes to help promote our event.

 

Did anything come up that you didn’t expect?

Katie: When we started to play the documentary at the screening, I think the entire team had a moment of panic as the video started to play two times slower than normally. Luckily, Asher, the tech person, had decided to stick around and watch it. He helped troubleshoot and told Tess and Madison to refresh the video and re-start it, which fixed the problem. Also, during the creation process, we ran into some complications in saving our files. So, I learned that if you don’t know the best way to save a different form of media, it is always a good idea to ask for help. Despite these unexpected challenge, we were always able to find a solution.

Tess: Pretty much the entire process of creating a documentary was filled with obstacles that I did not foresee. It was a learning process the entire time, which was actually really enjoyable for me. We constantly had to put our heads together as a team and figure out how to handle certain situations.

Madison: Similarly to Tess, I entered the process with little expectations since I didn’t have any documentary experience. With that said, something I learned was that you can never get enough b-roll or footage to keep the documentary visually interesting.

What is the outcome of which you’re most proud?

 Katie: The outcome that I am most proud of is the documentary itself. From the beginning of the process, we realized what a big idea we had set out to accomplish. I think every member of the team was overwhelmed by the amount of work and coordination that was required to make a documentary. I was surprised to realize just emailing potential interviewees and scheduling their interviews was a lot of work. I am proud that as a team, we were able to overcome such a huge hurdle and make our first documentary. The fact that we made the documentary successfully and had such a positive response to it during Affordable Housing Week was definitely the best outcome of the project for me.

Tess: My favorite outcome is the audience response and engagement at the film screening. Immediately when we turned to the audience Q&A, hands flew up in the air. We actually had to cut off questions before everyone who wanted got a chance to ask them because we ran out of time. It was really special to spend hundreds of hours pouring our heart and soul into this piece of artwork, and for the community to be so moved by it.

Madison: I am proud for the same reasons listed above, and more importantly that I got to do this with Katie and Tess specifically. It was a wild ride and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else by my side.

love-unite-respect-build-e1529099823200.jpg
A painting in the Central District that encourages people to love, unite, respect, and build. Tess and Madison found this as a part of a mural while filming b-roll in the Central District.

Name 2-3 things you learned about gentrification in the CD from making the documentary.

Katie: It happened slowly and silently over time. And the gentrification of the CD is like a gut punch to the black community after facing a history of redlining and general racism, working to re-build a community, to just be pushed out again.

There is hope.  As Tyrone Brown mentions, if people stop talking about how sad the gentrification of the CD is and start asking themselves what they can do to change it and to make a difference, the community could come back and we could work to preserve and maintain it.

Tess: That the process of gentrification in the CD is over by now. Charles Mudede really emphasized this point during his interview with us.

Once the CD became gentrified, that wasn’t the end of gentrification in the region. Now we see the issue spreading further and further south throughout King County to cities like Renton, Burien, Des Moines and Kent.

Madison: I learned that the City of Seattle has historically been extremely racist. To clarify, while doing research, we found copies of documents that the City of Seattle had written using specific terminology that I would have never expected or deemed appropriate.

I also learned how hard the fight against gentrification really is.  Even if you have a community with a shared understanding of what is happening, there is a limit to the amount of change that the individual can do when compared to how much power the city has.

 

Did you have moments of anxiety about the video or the event? What were they, and how did you work through them?

Katie: I definitely faced moments of anxiety about the event and the documentary. I think the event gave me a lot of nerves because we were not able to discuss the “script” beforehand as a team. The run-of-show document really helped in keeping us organized through, and my confidence in us as a team helped me push through my anxiety and nerves.

Tess: I was nervous about what the audience’s reaction would be. I’m used to working in the journalism world where people tend to be highly critical, especially in the comments section of stories. But Catherine, Katie and Madison reminded me that this audience would likely be much more supportive of us and our film, which they were. Standing by my teammates’ sides also assuaged my anxiety a bit because I knew if I struggled with an answer or forgot to introduce a speaker, that they would fill in and support me in those moments. They didn’t let me down.

Madison: I think there were a lot of times that we were all thinking that we bit off more than we could chew. That was really nerve-wracking because we wanted to make this documentary as well as possible. We didn’t want to come off in the wrong way, with a white savior complex. So, we had to be careful ensuring what we were doing are most and making it so that it was done well in respect to the people that this situation affects most.

Panel-team and panelists_for blog
Panelists answer questions from the audience. L-R: Madison, Katie, Tess, Miriam, Patience, and Shawn.

What advice do you have for next year’s students about planning this type of event?

Katie:

  1. However long you think a task will take you, double it.
  2. Rely on the other members of your team, and work with the strengths of the group.

Tess: 

  1. Plan your time well.
  2. Don’t worry about “biting off more than you can chew.” It’s a really fun opportunity to go big and put all of your effort into one massive project. Tackle something you’re unfamiliar with: you’ll grow a lot from the experience.

Madison:

  1. While we shot for the stars, I wouldn’t take our project back because we created something that people can share and reference for time to come. Try to make something as a Project Assistant that can go beyond just one moment in time.
  2. Communication is key. So, clearly communicate your skills and what you can accomplish along the way.

 

 

Team at podium_best_by Lindsay_crop
The team answered questions from our panelists and the audience during the Q&A after the screening. L-R: Tess, Madison, and Katie

Name 1-2 things that each of your teammates produced for this event that you admire, and why.

Katie:  I admired Madison’s poster that she was able to whip up in a day. She also made really cool Instagram story posts that we could add to our stories to promote it to students the day of the event. Her creativity and skillset as a designer is something I have admired about her from the start of the year.

I admired Tess’ headline and music idea, I think it was a powerful tool that added to the narrative of the documentary and allowed for the audience to see the headlines that show the CD community in a struggle for preservation. She has a strong sense of story thanks to her journalism background, and I was so grateful she was able to shape the narrative of the film into what it is.

Tess: Katie basically ran the entire event, which was a total godsend. I was unbelievably impressed with her. We were asked some tough questions – ones I had no idea how to answer – and she tackled those questions smoothly, professionally and with precision. She also led the Q&A portion of the event, which definitely got tense at moments. I’m so glad she was there.

Madison took on such a creative and artistic role throughout the entire process. She made our documentary enjoyable to watch, moving and beautiful. She really knows how to convey emotions through film and she by far has the most filmmaking experience out of the three of us. Her creative direction helped the documentary go from good to great.

Madison: I really admired how Katie took questions confidently at the event and how clearly she responded. I get nervous and flustered in front of an audience and assumed we all would, but I felt like Katie really took initiative to answer a lot of the questions coherently.

As for Tess, I was quite blown away at how she pieced together the interviews. For example, Katie and I spent 20 minutes trying to remember what was said in one interview compared to another. Without her, I do not know if the storyline would have been as strong.

Team post-event photo by Lindsay IMG_6043
The team after the successful event! You can tell we are all ecstatic at the outcome after the conversations of the night. L-R: Katie, Madison, Catherine, Tess. Photo by: Lindsay Ohab.

What is your favorite image from the whole experience?

Katie: The image Lindsay took of our team after the event; we are all so happy we pulled it off!

Tess: At the end with flowers in hand (a gift from Catherine). In this moment, I took a sigh of relief for the first time in six weeks. It was a euphoric feeling and a huge weight came off my shoulders. I was so, so proud of what our team had done, but simultaneously so, so exhausted. That picture captured a mixture of relief and joy. Plus, it’s one of the few photos with our entire team together.

Madison: Figuratively, I love the image of the three of us going about the city and presenting ourselves professionally for interviews. Physically, I would have to agree with the image of us after the event. It captures how meaningful my co-workers and supervisor are to me.

Would you do this all again? Why or why not?

Katie: I would do this all again; I would like to have a longer timeframe because we were not able to feature as many voices as I would have loved to and we sort of had to rush putting the film together. So, with a longer timeframe, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat because we got to talk with really cool people to help us tell a really important story.

Tess: Yes! And now that I’ve made a documentary (this was my very first one), I feel confident in doing it again but with a much smoother, more well-executed process. Most of all, it was so much fun to spend so much time with my teammates. We got very close to each other by the end of it, which made it a really special and meaningful experience that I would do 100 times over again despite the fact that I barely slept for two weeks straight.

Madison: Most definitely! I feel like film is fun to work with and fun for audiences to engage with. So, I would do it for the film’s sake. I also enjoyed the way we did interviews and pieced together what professionals had to say about affordable housing and the gentrification of the Central District, rather than giving our voices hierarchy on the issue. I think our documentary and overall message was more reliable and stronger because of it.

To see the film, click here.

What You Can Do:

  • Watch the documentary we made. Host a screening or invite friends to watch it. Have a discussion afterwards.
  • Encourage your school, organization, family and friends to support Affordable Housing Week 2019. Attend the events celebrating Affordable Housing Week hosted by the Housing Development Consortium.
  • Support the Central District! Go to local businesses and help to maintain the community. You can support organizations like Byrd Barr Place  and the Africatown Community Land Trust.
  • Be mindful of the history of discrimination that originally developed the Central District and of how you enter the community as a renter.

Katie’s Declassified HHAD Survival Guide

 

HHAD 2018 Katie Declassified Guide Cover.png
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.

New technology, new challenges, my recommendations

In the process of creating this flipbook, I ran into more challenges than I thought I would. It was difficult to find and choose a platform to make the PDF flipbook responsive, so that the pages would flip as the viewer turns a page. Additionally, embedding the flipbook proved to be a complicated and overwhelming process – especially as someone who is not familiar with HTML coding.

Based on what I learned throughout the process of creating this guide, I have some recommendations for anyone wanting to create their own online flipbook:

  • Make a PDF file of the content and information you want to share. To create my flipbook PDF file, I used the free site Canva.
  • Find a platform to make the PDF responsive. I originally planned to use FlippingBook and the company’s free trial, but the free trial only saves the flipbook for the trial period and there is an annual fee of $44/month. I ended up using a company called Flowpaper and downloaded their software onto my laptop, which allowed me to upload my PDF file and create an online link to share the flipbook.
  • Consider if you want to embed the flipbook on your site. Be sure to look into how embedding works and understand the process for your specific website. This was where I had the most difficulty. Because we were trying to upload this to a WordPress blog, I could not embed the Flowpaper flipbook without installing a plugin, which requires a premium WordPress account. I wish I would have researched the embedding process more in-depth before I fully committed to the platform I used for my flipbook.

Here are the two tools I used to create my HHAD Declassified Survival Guide flipbook:

  • Canva to make the flipbook. I used the magazine format for my PDF.
  • Flowpaper to make the flipbook responsive, so that viewers could flip the page.

Check out my flipbook here!  And good luck if you decide to try making one!

 

For more about HHAD 2018, you can also read Tess’ reflection about our day and how we delivered 545 advocacy postcards to lawmakers: Overcoming Impostor Syndrome at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day.

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day

HHAD Backgorund
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.

It turns out that what I was feeling isn’t all that uncommon after all. Two psychologists, Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, gave it a name in 1978: impostor syndrome. As the New York Times reported, they described it as a feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” People who experience impostor syndrome often “live in fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as frauds,” the Times said.

Due to pre-existing systemic issues like sexism and racism, impostor syndrome tends to disproportionately affect women and people of color. The ubiquity of impostor syndrome further exacerbates the marginalization of these groups in everyday society; the less qualified they consider themselves for positions, the less likely they are to apply to them and the more likely are to undersell themselves along the way.

Recently, impostor syndrome became problematic for me. But, unlike appearing where it usually does for most people who experience it – in academia and the workplace – for me, it infiltrated the advocacy world.

I’m a project assistant at the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness – a project deeply committed to ending family homelessness through connecting the community with advocacy partners and opportunities to advocate across Western Washington. In early February, our project team was preparing to attend Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD), which, as the name implies, is an inherently advocacy-oriented event.

HHAD 2018 Tess Attendees rallying on steps square
HHAD 2018 attendees on the steps of the Legislative Building (the Capitol).

Feeling a little phony

On Feb. 1, our team headed down to the state capitol in Olympia to participate in HHAD. During this event, which takes place for one day each year, Washington residents who care about housing affordability and ending homelessness descend upon the capitol in hordes to share stories with lawmakers and lobby for specific bills. The crux of the event is to end homelessness while making housing affordable and accessible to all. In anticipation of this exciting, meaningful day, my feelings of inadequacy began to rise.

During the 90-minute car ride from Seattle to Olympia, the little voice in the back of my head passed along a few snarky comments. “Everyone is going to see that you don’t know what you’re doing,” it sneered. “The moment they see you, they’ll know you’re a fraud.

But I also felt a wave of excitement as I thought about the 545 handwritten letters our team was planning to deliver to Sen. Christine Rolfes, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. We chose to deliver the letters to Rolfes because the committee she chairs is key to orchestrating housing policies in the state.

HHAD Campus Event_Madison and Tess peeking over postcards
Our Digital Design project assistant Madison Vucci (left) and I peek over the stack of 545 letters.

During the two weeks prior to HHAD, our team generated the nearly 600 letters from students, faculty, staff and administrators at Seattle U and Seattle Central. We even gathered letters from those who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness. Each letter was addressed directly to the senator, and each had a personalized message inscribed on it. Our two stacks stood at about 12 inches tall each. They were monumental and I was proud of our team’s work.

After arriving at the Capitol, we headed over to the United Churches of Olympia where the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance – who has hosted HHAD for the last 20-something years – congregated with attendees to start the day-long event. Carrying the two stacks in my arms (which were quite heavy, I might add) I began to feel my confidence bolster.

A rite of passage

Upon entering the church and being greeted by a swarm of people, I was bestowed with the staple HHAD accessory: a red scarf. I put mine on and glanced around at the hundreds of others buzzing nearby who were also sporting their red fleece. In this moment, I felt as if I was a part of a team and that I was in Olympia on a mission with 600+ others just like me. The voice in the back of my head that had been nagging me with feelings of inadequacy earlier hushed down significantly.

HHAD 2018 Tess holding postcards 2
The author, pictured, holding the stacks of cards and starting to feel a little more like an advocate.

There was excitement in the air as the day began. Rep. Nicole Macri kicked off the event with an emotional, impactful speech directed at all HHAD attendees. Then our team of four split off to the 43rd Legislative District meeting in the Capitol building. Members of the district piled into the large conference room and shared emotional stories with Rep. Macri, Sen. Jamie Pedersen and House Speaker Frank Chopp, who all appeared supportive and understanding. In fact, they have all sponsored or co-sponsored important housing bills, and Rep. Chopp helped create the Housing Trust Fund.

After that, we headed to a social media workshop, attended a rally and ate lunch on the steps of the Senate building. As I ate my turkey sandwich, I began to glance around and observe my surroundings thoroughly for the first time that day. Immersed in a sea of red scarves, I started to feel as though I was a part of a movement. And not just a miniscule, replaceable part – an important one capable of igniting change.

Finally, after weeks of anticipation, it was time for our team’s big moment. After a brief run-through of our plan of action, we headed up to Senator Rolfes’ office for the 23rd District meeting. It was time to deliver our mountain of letters.

As we entered the meeting, led by Sen. Rolfes’ legislative aide, Linda Owens, a group of about a dozen advocates from Kitsap County observed our two stacks with amazement and awe.

“How about you present those as the grand finale?” one of the advocates asked us. This was a very kind gesture to which we had no objections. After this initial comment, I immediately felt welcomed into the setting. I was eager to see how the meeting would proceed, this one significantly smaller and more personal than the 43rd we had sat in on earlier that day.

I watched as, one-by-one, the advocates gave direct and explicit pitches on behalf of their county. They lobbied for specific bills and shared personal stories of family members and people they work with. For the most part, they advocated for HB2578 and SB5407, which are known as the Source of Income Discrimination bills. As well-seasoned as these advocates were, I realized that there is nothing particularly unique about this group of people; they are all just everyday people who – like me – are passionate about homelessness and housing and want to make a difference.

HHAD 2018 Team Presenting Postcards Rolfes Office
Katie (left), Madison and me presenting to the letters the 23rd Legislative District.

Becoming a “real advocate”

Finally, it was our turn to deliver our message. As we explained the purpose of our letters and the creative, community-oriented process that led up to their delivery, the group seem impressed and delighted. To them, we were a legitimate team capable of making change in the world. They took our presence at HHAD and our stack of letters seriously.

It looks like Sen. Rolfes did, too. She included our team in her constituent e-newsletter.

“Message Received” the headline of her newsletter read. “I thank Madison, Katie and Tess for the energy and passion they are dedicating to this issue,” Rolfes wrote in the newsletter. “I share their concern and will continue to search for ways the Legislature can best use our state resources for housing solutions in the Puget Sound.”

HHAD 2018 Tess_Sen Rolfes newsletter photo
A snippet from Sen. Rolfes’ newsletter.

Post-HHAD reflections

As we headed out of Olympia that day, I was awash with emotions: relief, fulfillment, excitement. I began to feel a bit silly for questioning myself earlier. Of course I, as a voter and Washington State resident, have the right to demand change from my lawmakers. Advocacy is not about “ticking boxes,” so to speak, until you’re qualified and deserving of your lawmakers’ attention; it’s about caring deeply for an issue and using your resources to make change – as small or big as that change may be. It is critical for people to use their privilege to advocate on behalf of those who cannot.

I learned these lessons after attending HHAD this year, which means I may not be alone in my advocacy-related impostor syndrome. Surely others feel the same way, especially if they’ve never participated in an advocacy-oriented event before.

If you’re one of those people who is experiencing symptoms of impostor syndrome in the advocacy world, it’s important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere; nobody is born an advocate. You are capable of bringing about change and having fun while doing so. Take it from me – a recovering advocacy impostor.

Finally, remember that your lawmakers want to hear from you. It is their job to listen to their constituents and craft policies around the needs and concerns brought forth to them. You are never a burden to your lawmaker for demanding they fulfill the duties they were elected into office to complete.

HHAD 2018 Team with Ryan Mielcarek

SU MPA alum Ryan Mielcarek (left) posing with the project team (Katie, Catherine, Madison, Tess) on the steps of the Capitol building after the 43rd District meeting.

What You Can Do

Now, with that said, there’s no time like the present to get started. Here are some changes you can make today to help end homelessness in Washington State and ensure that housing is accessible to all:

  • Think about how women and people of color might be left out of the advocacy conversation, and work to center them.
  • Choose a bill that is meaningful to you. Track it all the way from the Senate committees to the House Floor to the Governor’s desk.
  • Get on the list for advocacy action alerts from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.
  • Understand that it is your constitutional right to demand action from your lawmakers. You are not acting “entitled” by doing so because you are, in fact, entitled to your rights.
  • Use your privilege to advocate on behalf of those who cannot. Show up and be present in place of those who are unable to.

 

“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.

Bobby and Moonee on balcony
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

 

 

Patriotic Labrador dog with USA costume
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)

 

Mayoral Candidate Debate credit Dean Rutz_The Seattle Times 203429_MayoralDebate_64-550x440_w-creditline

Continue reading

Seattle Mayoral Candidate Forums in July

 

Vote Dog Buzzfeed enhanced-buzz-8457-1372697855-23
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

Tess Riski headshot

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

Katie Bradley2

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

Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2017 Edition — Part One

 

 

Team 2016-17
Our 2016-17 SU student team, L-R: Khadija, Mandy and Shan, happy to be days away from graduating.

 

By Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director, Project on Family Homelessness

 

The annual tradition of saying goodbye to our graduating student team never gets easier. But here we are again, celebrating the reason why our project remains strong: We choose a team of outstanding student assistants each year, and we get to watch them change the world while they’re still in school. Then it comes time to let go. Continue reading