Hard Goodbyes 2020 – Final Edition

Mary and Anneke at the HEH Hall of Fame happy hour in February. Photo by Steve Schimmelman.

After more than 10 years of working with students, our project must say goodbye to our final team of project assistants, Anneke Karreman and Mary Lacey. Mary graduated from Seattle University in March 2020 and continued with us as a temporary employee; Anneke, who started working with us two years ago as a rising junior, graduated in June and has been freelancing. We never want to say goodbye to our students; knowing this is the last team is bittersweet, but what a tremendous year of accomplishments it’s been. This, in spite of our team working together from a very long distance as of March. In their words, we share their favorite work on behalf of our partners, and reflect on what they learned.

 

We always ask our student assistants to reflect on what made them proud. Not surprisingly, both Anneke and Mary chose the same activity as their proudest accomplishment as a team member.

What is your proudest accomplishment (personally)? How about as a team member?

Mary: As a team member, my proudest moment was Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD) 2020, hosted by Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, and our Housing Postcard Mosaic. It was rewarding to see our effort to represent Seattle University and ourselves at the state capitol to directly impact legislation. We were able to create a mosaic postcard project to visualize ending homelessness by building affordable housing. We illustrated individual efforts coming together as one to solve homelessness. Through our project, we were able to bring the voices of the Seattle University community to legislators and gather voices at HHAD to impact housing policies within our state. Anneke and I further describe our experience in a blog post that goes into depth about HHAD 2020.

A closer look at some of the postcard designs from the mosaic. From afar, the postcards resemble different apartment buildings.

Anneke: As a Project Assistant, my proudest accomplishment this year was the Postcard Mosaic we brought to the Capitol for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD) in early February. Working for the Project for almost two years now, I am privileged to have gone to two HHAD rallies and have created two installations. What made this one special, besides attending with my wonderful co-workers and vocal supporters, was the feeling of community and unity that the display created. Not only did we gain support from Seattle University, we also set up a table beside the display in Olympia so that people at the rally could voice their support in written form. Some of the lawmakers did not show up to meet with HHAD attendees during their scheduled times; I like to think that by providing an option of written support, the HHAD advocates who wrote and signed postcards were able to have a lasting impact on representatives’ perspectives of the needs of people experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

Here are a couple pictures of the HHAD Mosaic and action in Olympia!

Mary and Anneke proudly present the display in Olympia.
A view of the exhibit from the steps of the Legislative Building, HHAD 2020.
A sea of red scarves on the steps of the Legislative Building in Olympia, HHAD 2020.

Shifting to a different state…When campus closed in mid-March due to the pandemic, Mary — who had just graduated days before — flew home to Wisconsin. There she pondered whether to vote in person for the April primary.

Mary: The proudest moment I felt personally was writing about my experience voting in Wisconsin during the pandemic. At first, I was nervous to write about my experience, but to see the positive messages from my family and friends was assuring that my story came across well. I felt that I brought a unique perspective to the project by sharing my experience in Wisconsin and my family’s influence on my passion for civic engagement.

A voter with a homemade sign waiting in line outside Washington High School, one of Milwaukee’s five polling places open on Election Day. Photo: Patricia McKnight, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

What did you most enjoy working on, if different from above?

Mary: I really enjoyed working on the 2019 Seattle City Council Housing and Homelessness Voters Guide alongside Tech 4 Housing and Resolution to End Homelessness. I got the opportunity to reach out to candidates from each of the seven districts to learn about their proposed solutions to addressing homelessness. Additionally, I became more interested in local politics and the role of city council in passing legislation and allocating resources that affect housing issues in our city. Although I do not vote in King County, because of my involvement in this project I became a better-informed Seattle resident by learning about city council candidates and elections.

Housing Voter Forum in July 2019, moderated by Michael Hobbes. Speakers: Lauren McGowan, Dr. Richard Waters, Colleen Echohawk, Lisa Daugaard.

What skills have you developed/enhanced?

Mary: One of the greatest skills I enhanced at the project was my communication skills. Being able to work with Catherine and other communications professionals increased my writing, social media, and oral presentation skills. Another skill I improved was my creativity in event planning and outreach efforts while working on the project. I learned how to effectively engage an audience in advocacy work which will help me in future career positions in public service.

Mary and Anneke set up a campus board promoting the October Housing Voter Forum.

Anneke: What I feel like I most developed this year was confidence in my work and in my decision-making. I am often the person to be most critical of my work. With the support my peers, colleagues, and partner organizations we’ve worked with, I’ve started to open up to the compliments and take them to heart (without reminiscing about what I should change after a project is over!). I also think my communications skills have improved over the last year by working with our partner organizations and creating specific pieces for them.

Anneke’s poster design for the HEH Hall of Fame in February, which honored SU community members working to solve homelessness.

What have you learned about family homelessness? How have your views changed?

Mary: Although I learned a lot about family homelessness as a project assistant, I continue to learn about the causes, effects, and struggles of those experiencing homelessness. One of the most important aspects of housing and homelessness is the relation to racial justice. While learning about disproportional data among King County residents and Washington students, I learned that Black and Native people experience higher rates of homelessness and housing insecurity. Additionally, understanding the racist policies and practices within the housing and homelessness sector helped me unlearn notions I had about the non-profit sector, American history, and our government’s role in creating and perpetuating institutional racism. As a project assistant, I understood the importance of having culturally appropriate services beyond building affordable housing to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness. I realized the importance of having those with lived experience at the head of the solutions to ensure effectiveness and accessibility to essential services and resources. [Mary wrote about unlearning the narrative about racism in housing here.]

Anneke: In light of the racial and systemic inequities and injustice exposed by the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black lives cut too short, I am inspired to expand my awareness about homelessness and housing insecurity through many lenses. These include different lived experiences including (but not limited to) race, class, mental health, physical health, accessibility of education, employment, and location. Unfortunately, a combination of these differences can make a person more vulnerable to homelessness. I want to carry this intensified awareness with me so I can be supportive for people in different situations.

One of the infographics Anneke created for our partner Schoolhouse Washington focuses on the racial disparities among students experiencing homelessness.

How would you measure our impact among your family/friends, campus and the community?

Mary: Over the past ten years, the project has been creating helpful content that educates people on campus and among the greater Seattle community about homeless and housing insecurity. The project is able to educate those who may have not been involved with homelessness previously and facilitates an environment to help others be effective advocates for change. My casual conversations about Seattle’s expensive housing market led to important conversations with friends and family about issues within our housing system. Identifying racist policies, practices, and legislation led to discussions about housing and homelessness advocacy. This led to close friends and family taking action on an individual level to do their part, whether it’s saying hello to a person living on the street, building tiny homes through Facing Homelessness’ Block Project, or voting for a candidate who supports the Housing First model.

The popular sticker of Facing Homelessness.

Anneke: The Project definitely has had a profound impact on my family and close friends who are often a part of intense conversations on the topic of homelessness and housing insecurity. The knowledge and awareness I have gained during my time as a project assistant will stick with me as a voting citizen and wherever life takes me. I believe that our presence on the SU campus and within the Seattle community has had a positive impact on community engagement with opportunities for people to voice their support of affordable housing and people experiencing homelessness, as well as educate and congregate people around issues like the ones mentioned above.

Anneke with her dad, Frank, in Olympia. Frank, an architect, helped Anneke design and build the frame, and came to HHAD both 2019 and 2020 to help us set it up. Thank you Frank!

The project benefited from the fact that Anneke and Mary were already friends before working on this project.

How did your friendship affect what you were able to accomplish as a team?

Mary: Overall, I think our friendship improved our work at the project. We were able to have extensive conversations outside of work about how we can improve the work we do that led us to be able to problem-solve more effectively. We felt very comfortable sharing our thoughts with each other, including constructive criticism when necessary. Overall, I think working together improved our friendship, and I have a deeper appreciation for Anneke as I got to know her as a co-worker.

“Working Apart, Together” – An image Anneke created for use by our partners, and an apt description of our final six months together.

Anneke: At first, I was slightly worried that our friendship may have a negative impact on our productivity as Project Assistants, but that was proven wrong pretty quickly! Already having an understanding of each other and ability to talk openly about tough topics improved our productivity and we were able to accomplish a lot in a small amount of time! Even though some of our projects were no longer feasible given COVID-19 status [such as their plans for an Affordable Housing Week event on campus in May], I am super proud of what we did as a team and had fun along the way.

What are your goals and next steps professionally? How will you incorporate what you learned on our project into your career?

Mary: Working on the project opened up my understanding of intersectionality and the role housing has on many social issues that I am interested in, including urban planning, transportation, civic engagement, sustainability, youth incarceration, and so many more! Although I am unsure what the next steps are in my career, I will take a critical lens to our systems and institutions to improve the communities we live in.

Photo of light rail by SounderBruce/WikipediaCommons

Mary also used her interest in transportation to work with Anneke on a 15-second promotional video for Stand Down Seattle, displayed in Metro transit centers where bus drivers could see them.

Anneke: Below is a picture of my, Zephyr — how relaxed I wish to be!

Role model Zephyr. A good dog.

I would ideally apply to jobs that are at the intersection of my interests – art & design, social justice, racial equity, climate justice, and/or sustainability. As you can see I have a lot of interests so I feel like there should be something out there! (Fingers crossed). What I have learned during my experience at the Project is highly valuable as I have worked in a nonprofit, collaborated with partner organizations, engaged the community, and worked on a highly collaborative team. I will also take my expanded perspective from learning about homelessness and vulnerable communities to make sure they are equally represented and considered in my work.

Any final thoughts?

Mary: I am very grateful for this opportunity to work with an amazing team who has positively impacted my experience at Seattle University. Thank you to Catherine, Anneke, IPS faculty and staff, friends, and family for the constant support and encouragement that you had for our work and my personal development as a project assistant. I will carry the lessons and knowledge I gained from this experience into my personal and professional life to advocate for housing security for all people.

At the HEH Hall of Fame in February: Our IPS colleague Lindsay Ohab; Anneke; Mary: SU Social Work adjunct professor David Moser. Photo by Steve Schimmelman.

Anneke: I will definitely miss everyone who I interacted with within the Institute of Public Service. It was such a pleasure and inspiration to be surrounded with people who truly care about the welfare of others and the environment we live in. This passion has become a part of me. Of course I will also miss our tiny but mighty Project team! The wealth of knowledge I have gained from you and experiences I have been privileged to be a part of will stay with me forever! THANK YOU!!!

The team at HHAD 2020 along with Professor Zach Wood, our colleague from SU’s Institute of Public Service, who joined us for the day.

 

Coda: After they wrote this post, Anneke and Mary finished two more projects:

The cover page from Anneke and Mary’s three-part COVID Kit for young people.
  1. A “COVID Kit” Instagram series for young people, produced mid-August to support Public Health – Seattle and King County.
  2. A slide show on our project’s history, highlighting some of our favorite projects and remembering some of our best collaborations. Coming soon!

Thank you Anneke and Mary! Your contributions to our partners will last long after our project has ended.

“One Voice” — Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day Through the Eyes of a First-Time Advocate

By Shan Yonamine, Project Assistant, Project on Family Homelessness

Going into my first Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD), I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous about calling myself a “housing advocate.” As a project assistant, I have created content that can be used as tools for advocacy and I have attended advocacy events, but I was afraid that I had not done enough advocacy to be an effective participant at HHAD. After participating in #HHAD2017, I realized that I could not have been more wrong.

In this blog post, I will recount my experience attending HHAD as a first-time advocate and explain how it changed my perception of what it means to be an advocate. Continue reading

Shared Brokenness: A Reflection on “Nourish” and the One Night Count

Our partner Hannah Hunthausen reflects on the One Night Count of homelessness in King County and how she has renewed her commitment professionally and personally.

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project

FEBRUARY-NOURISH-CALENDARThis academic year, we at the School of Theology and Ministry are taking time each month to reflect on a theme as a learning community. Every month, a faculty or staff member offers up a personal reflection, exploring how that month’s theme applies to their life and work. (See here for an overview of these themes, which will also be highlighted in each month’s school e-newsletter.)

The theme for our school community this February 2016 is “Nourish.” We choose to unite. We choose to nourish body, mind and spirit.

When I was invited to offer a reflection on this theme, I felt compelled to share my recent experience with the One Night Count in King County, and reflect on the personal and systemic implications of human brokenness, connection and compassion.


By Hannah Hunthausen, Program Coordinator, School of Theology and Ministry (Originally published 2/2/16 on the School of Theology and Ministry website)

Last Friday morning, around…

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Join Us Jan. 21 for a “Social Media for Housing Advocates” Workshop

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Thursday, Jan. 21, join us virtually, or in-person at Seattle University, to learn how to use social media skills to effectively advocate for affordable housing and other social justice issues. It’s our fourth annual “Social Media for Housing Advocates” workshop, and you can watch online — or join us in person at Seattle University. Continue reading

The Moth

WHAT IS THE MOTH?

“It is brilliant and quietly addictive” – The London Guardian

“New York’s hottest and hippest literary ticket” – The Wall Street Journal

The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it. Continue reading

Forging New Partnerships in Family Homelessness and Health

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project

By Hannah Hunthausen, Program Coordinator, Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry

Imagine living and sleeping day after day in your car in 90 degree heat, shuttling your daughter to and from work and trying to get yourself to dialysis three times per week. This is the situation Lana and her 23-year-old daughter Rachel found themselves in this summer.[1] Mother and daughter were evicted from their two-bedroom apartment in Renton last year when Lana’s kidneys failed and she could no longer work to keep up on rent. Like many families, they opted to hold on to their vehicle and the little bit of security and freedom it still offers them;  they can keep their stuff relatively safe, and get to appointments and work more easily than if they were living at a shelter. Lana and Rachel are just one of several families and individuals profiled in Real Change

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End homelessness? For me it’s personal.

Wise words from the leader of our sister project, the Faith & Family Homelessness Project. If we are to really transform the way we address family homelessness in our community, it needs to be personal for all of us.

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project

By Lisa Gustaveson, Faith & Family Homelessness Program Manager

553830_10200650804746093_599565699_n[1]In the spring of 2002 I was offered a six-month contract to manage the development of a local plan to end homelessness. I quickly accepted – I love project management and come on, the goal was to end homelessness!

Eighteen months and a ton of gray hairs later, I proudly stood by as the planning committee adopted a 57-page plan, A Roof Over Every Bed: Our Community’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in King County.

Many people don’t know or remember that the 10 Year Plan represents countless hours of research, meetings and then, more meetings. A broad coalition of people from local government, service providers, faith communities, advocacy organizations and people experiencing homelessness created the first Committee to End Homelessness (CEH) and the Staff Circle. Throughout the project hundreds of people offered ideas and suggestions at community meetings…

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Richard Lemieux: Tent cities offer hope and help for the homeless

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project

In the wake of the disheartening news that at least 3,772 people were unsheltered in King County in January 2015 ( as counted during the annual One Night Count on January 23rd), Mayor Ed Murray proposed that the City of Seattle allow and regulate three new tent cities in the city’s nonresidential areas. Since then, a flood of discussion about the plan’s merits and failings has ensued, as well as a more general discussion about the role of tent cities in solving the problem of homelessness in our region. Among these voices, Richard Lemieux offers a balanced and compassionate perspective on the positive but ultimately limited and transitional role he believes tent cities play in ending homelessness. Richard is a homeless survivor, advocate, motivational speaker, and author of Breakfast at Sally’s. Read his 2/7/15 Seattle Times editorial below.

Image: “Tent City” courtesy of KUOW 94.9 Public Radio, under a…

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