“Communication and Collaboration” — Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2019 Edition

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

Connor Anneke June 2019
Dynamic duo: Project assistants Connor (L) and Anneke, June 2019 at SU’s Tsutakawa Fountain.

Saying goodbye to our graduating student assistants each year is always tough. This year, we had only one goodbye — along with one “so glad you’re coming back!” and one hello. Belatedly, here is this year’s edition of our tribute to the fantastic Seattle University student assistants who serve our project, with a spotlight on our 2018-19 team — Connor Crinion (SU ’19) and rising senior Anneke Karreman — and a nod to our incoming student, Mary Lacey.

 

Happy Hello

Mary Lacey head shot

First, let’s flip the timeline and go right to the “happy hello”: We welcome Mary Lacey, a senior in Public Affairs and Sociology. Mary joined us this summer and has been helping on the City Council candidate questionnaire on housing and homelessness that we’ll publish in October in partnership with Resolution to End Homelessness and Tech 4 Housing. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisc., Mary has been involved in Housing and Residence Life as a Desk Coordinator and plays music as a DJ for KXSU, the university’s radio station. Additionally, she enjoys working with youth at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. During fall of 2018, she studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, with courses focusing on Czech politics, diplomacy, art, and language. Welcome, Mary!

So Glad You’re Coming Back

Our Digital Design and Public Affairs student Anneke Karreman, a junior last year, returns for the 2019-20 school year, hurray! This is the first time we’ve ever had a student on the project for two consecutive years, and Anneke’s experience — as described below — makes her immensely valuable to us and our partners. Over the summer, Anneke completed a design internship for the Space Needle while also working on an exciting project for our partner Building Changes that you’ll get to see at the end of September. Welcome back, Anneke!

Hard Goodbye

Connor Crinion graduated in June with a double major in Public Affairs and Sociology, and has taken a position as Client Advocate with the Orleans Public Defenders office. Connor, we already miss you!  Your contributions were huge and I’m excited to see what great thing you do in your career. Reader, you can learn more about Connor’s tremendous work below.

“It Changed My Mind”: Looking Back on a Spectacular Year

Connor said that his biggest lessons from the year on our project “can be summed up in two words: communication and collaboration.” That’s a great way to describe our project too! While Connor came to us with deep experience in housing and homelessness, he said that he had been more interested in the programmatic side of homelessness and thought that “communication was over there, something that I did not have a particular interest in, even though I viewed it as a critical task. This year changed my mind.”

Connor teamed up with “my amazing colleague” Anneke to create ambitious and high-impact communication and advocacy projects. “Connor was a great teammate to work with,” Anneke said, “because he was already knowledgeable about housing and shared his knowledge with me.”

As a bonus, we had some super assistance from our recent graduate Madison Vucci (SU ’18), who filled in as a freelancer to help with design in summer and fall 2018 as Anneke completed an internship and got up to speed.

Here’s a look at some of their outstanding projects.

Doorway Project Pop-Up Cafe, October 2018

Doorway Project Anneke and Madison
Anneke (L) and Madison representing SU at the Pop-Up Cafe

We were honored to be invited to be one of the participating organizations for the University of Washington’s Doorway Project Pop-Up Cafe at the Husky Union Building (HUB) in October 2018. The Pop-Up Cafe is held quarterly in the U District to serve youth experiencing homelessness, and this was the first time the event was hosted on campus; the intent was to draw a larger crowd than usual, including people not connected to homelessness who were curious and came in to see what was going on.

For our booth, Anneke, Connor and Madison produced a “Story Station” featuring some of the stories we’ve collected about youth homelessness, especially those from the StoryCorps project. Anneke described the experience in this post, which features the brochure, promotional materials, slide show and more that they created for the event.

Note: For more about the work of the Doorway Project and its director, Prof. Josephine Ensign, read this Psychology Today article from September 2019. In it, Prof. Ensign talks about the ethics of storytelling and describes our “Streetwise: Revisited” project with The Seattle Public Library, referring readers to the abundant documentation of the project created by our 2016-17 student team. Looking back on that collection by Khadija, Mandy and Shan, I am newly impressed with what they did. Yes, our students are awesome every year.

Eviction Fact Sheets, Winter 2018-19

The nature of our project sometimes leads us to unexpected places, and one of my favorite things about my job is watching students become inspired to create work that serves our partners.  When Connor — a volunteer for the Housing Justice Project’s Eviction Clinic — learned that our partners Washington Low Income Housing Alliance would be working on eviction reform in the 2019 legislative session, he asked how we could help.

The result: these two fact sheets on the need for eviction reform that the Alliance used throughout the session. Anneke and Connor wrote and designed these in collaboration with our partner John Stovall at WLIHA.

“The Project has provided a very welcome opportunity to get engaged with the issue of eviction on a policy and communications level,” Connor said. “it was gratifying to see that we were able to play a small role in the massive effort that helped pass new eviction legislation.”

“Most Proud”: Art Installation in Olympia

Sometimes our students propose projects for our partners that are of such massive scale that I’m torn. I want to give them the freedom to pursue their vision without clipping their wings, while at the same time I want them to be realistic — to successfully complete it while keeping up with schoolwork and the rest of life, not getting sick, and so on. And because our team this year was two students instead of our usual three, this meant an even bigger work burden. Always with the gentle mentoring style of my friend and former SU colleague Lisa Gustaveson in mind, I try to get out of their way and let them go for it.

And somehow it always works out. For example — the “Central Division” documentary that our 2017-18 student team of Katie, Madison and Tess produced for Affordable Housing Week.

 

This year’s version of the visionary project was the art installation Anneke designed for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD) in Olympia, Feb. 28. I still can’t believe how wonderfully it turned out, especially given some unexpected challenges (such as Snowmageddon and the resulting many cancelled days of school and work).

“I enjoyed the amount of creative freedom Connor and I were given and our ability to take a previous team’s idea to the next level,” Anneke said, referring to the HHAD advocacy postcard project by Katie, Madison and Tess. That project itself had been inspired by predecessors Khadija, Mandy and Shan’s “Give a Heart, Get a Heart” advocacy message project for HHAD in 2016.

 

Anneke and Connor built on the idea of sharing advocacy messages from the SU community by constructing an art installation that we displayed in front of the Legislative Building in Olympia. The installation featured hundreds of advocacy postcards they had collected from the SU community at tabling events in January and February.

 

HHAD 2019 Olympia A&C with structure

At the end of the day, we removed the postcards and delivered them to the chairs of key legislative committees.

Anneke says that while it’s hard to estimate the number of people that our projects reach, we know that 300+ members of the SU community participated in this project and that “I can more clearly say that the impact on my family and friends has been immense.” In fact, Anneke’s father, Frank, who’s an architect, helped her design and build the structure, and met us in Olympia to help us install it.

Anneke and Connor wrote a very thoughtful reflection on their experience in producing this outstanding work; it’s well worth reading for advocates, for future students on our project and future potential employers of these two stellar young professionals.

A spring of plenty

Spring quarter 2019 was a busy blur for our project, just like every spring. While highlights included the “Stories About Home” storytelling event with The Seattle Times and The Seattle Public Library, our students’ efforts were focused on two other events: the “Higher Ed on Homelessness: Collaborating for Change” conference, and the Renters’ Rights 101 Workshop for Affordable Housing Week, both in May.

At the HEH “Collaborating for Change,” Anneke and Connor joined a team of student leaders from Seattle Pacific University and University of Washington to present a workshop on student-driven projects on homelessness. My heart was bursting with pride at their professionalism and accomplishments.

RR101 Image

Their capstone was the Renters’ Rights workshop for Affordable Housing Week, again inspired by a previous student team — Khadija, Mandy and Shan. For the May 15 workshop, Anneke designed beautiful collateral materials, including a brochure about the 10 things new renters need to know, similar to the one Mandy designed in 2017. Connor and Anneke worked with Be:Seattle and Tenants Union of Washington to secure them as partners and presenters; handled all the logistics; and helped host a successful workshop for about 30 SU students and community members. In fact, Anneke was able to use what she learned when she entered the private rental market recently.  (Anneke and Connor also wrote some thoughtful reflections on lessons learned, which because of the busy spring referred to above did not become a blog post, and I regret that. It would’ve been really good though.)

“Be Open”: Lessons Learned

Because we are a Jesuit university, it’s important for our students to reflect on their learning and pass along their advice to future students.

Anneke’s words of wisdom for the future project assistants, “including my future self as I will be working with the Project through senior year, is to be open to new opportunities because you don’t know what valuable relationships and further opportunities may spring from them. Give yourself time to do a good job and keep on track. It is important to be organized with your component deadlines leading up to the big day. To make the most of a project, communicate clearly with all team members. Make sure you are all on the same page and this way you can divvy up the work in an efficient way. Finally, ask questions and educate yourself on family/chronic homelessness when you can! This will help you feel more confident in the work you do and when you are speaking with partners.”

IMG_7349
Anneke and Connor, open to new opportunities! Here they promote the Renters’ Rights 101 workshop with a poster Anneke created.

Connor said that even though our project is externally facing, he wishes more students on campus knew of our work. He’d like to see us “build on the visibility and connections that we have generated on campus.” He continued,

“As a senior moving on from my time at the project and at Seattle University, I write this in a bittersweet moment. However, I am grateful that the lessons I’ve learned in my work here will be coming with me. As I transition into my next role as a Client Advocate with the Orleans Public Defender’s office, I will be thinking of the parallels between the two.

connor orleans public defender

“People facing criminal charges, especially people facing criminal charges who cannot afford their own lawyer, are often stigmatized, just as people experiencing homelessness are. Just as with homelessness services and affordable housing, public defense offices are severely underfunded. While most or all of my work will be in a direct service capacity with clients, the lessons that I’ve learned about communication and coalition will still be important. A central part of my job will be listening to my client’s stories. Beyond listening, I will also be helping our defense team communicate those humanizing stories to judges, juries, parole officers, and sometimes the general public. I am excited for the next chapter, and immensely grateful for all that I am leaving behind.”

I’m immensely grateful too, for all the ways that our student teams have contributed to the success of our nonprofit partners, helped engage the campus community and the larger community around our work and worked to expand the new generation of advocates. Thank you to all the SU students present and past who have graced our project since 2012!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Affordable Housing Week 2019

Seattle University joins three other area universities in proclaiming May 13-17, 2019 as Affordable Housing Week on their campuses. Father Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., president of SU, has signed a proclamation affirming the need for safe, healthy, affordable housing in our communities. SU is joined by Highline College, Seattle Pacific University and University of Washington, and is the only university who has participated since the establishment in 2016. Read SU’s version of the joint university announcement here.

SU’s activities to observe Affordable Housing Week are:

Higher Ed on Homelessness: Collaborating for Change, May 10, a first-time conference for faculty, staff and students at area universities and colleges who work on homelessness research, education, community engagement, service and advocacy. SU is one of the three organizers, along with Seattle Pacific University and University of Washington. The conference is by invitation only.

RR101 Image

Renters’ Rights 101, a free workshop on what young renters need to know, hosted by SU’s Project on Family Homelessness. At this Wednesday, May 15 workshop, 6:30 p.m on campus, Be:Seattle and Tenant’s Union of Washington will share tips on everything from move-in to move-out. Register here.

Affordable Housing Week has been hosted since 2016 by Housing Development Consortium. King County and 25 cities within it are participating this year. Check out the dozens of events around King County here.

 

 

Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2018 Edition – Part One

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

Team Graduation Party 2017-18 Tess Madison Katie cropped
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.

 

Crosscut Ad Link Embedded Test Version 4
The online ad that Madison designed, which ran in Crosscut; it features her illustration of the two general-election candidates.
Pongo Katie and Madison at training
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.

Florida Project Screening-Katie Madison reception
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.

HHAD 2018 Tess_Sen Rolfes newsletter photo
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.

IMG_6005
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.

 

 

Panel-team and panelists_for blog

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.

Ashwin Warrior sharable image
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

IMG_6005

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

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

“My Dream” — Khadija’s Reflection

By Khadija Diallo, Project Assistant, 2016-17

 

 

khadija-diallo-copy
Me at the beginning of the year.

 

For the past year, I have had the pleasure of working on the Project on Family Homelessness as a project assistant. It was my dream to be part of the project from the minute I heard about it. I wanted to start using my Strategic Communications skills for good and I knew I could have an impact on my community if I worked on this important Project.

I’m happy to say that I was right. Continue reading

“Helping People Comes First” – Shan’s Reflection

By Shan Yonamine, Project Assistant 2016-2017

 

img_0438
One of my favorite memories as a project assistant was attending Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day in February.

As my time as a project assistant comes to a close, I can’t help but look back at when I started on the project last summer. I recall looking through our blog and seeing all the posts, events and infographics created by previous project assistants and I was filled with wonder and excitement. I was excited to work on a project that produced such amazing work, but I wondered if I would be able to do the same. One year later, I am happy to say that I have. Continue reading

“Power in Constituents” — Renters’ Rights 101, SU’s Affordable Housing Week Event

 

Edited by Shan Yonamine, Project Assistant, Project on Family Homelessness

Note: For the second year in a row, our student assistants planned a campus event in support of Affordable Housing Week in King County, May 15-22. This year’s team — Khadija Diallo, Mandy Rusch and Shan Yonamine — decided to focus on “Renters’ Rights 101.” Afterward, they reflected on what worked well, what could be improved, what surprised them and what they learned.

The purpose of Renters’ Rights 101 was to give attendees a “crash course” in rental laws and best practices so that they would feel more prepared to navigate the Seattle rental market. Our target audience was students, new renters and soon-to-be renters in the greater Seattle area.

 

AHW RR101 Poster
Our digital design assistant, Mandy, created this graphic of a fist grasping a key as part of the branding for our event.

 

Continue reading

Be a Smart Renter for Affordable Housing Week, May 15-22, 2017

By Mandy Rusch, Digital Design Project Assistant, Project on Family Homelessness

The second annual Affordable Housing Week was May 15-22 2017. There were some big events, including one we hosted on campus on May 18 on being a smart renter. Thank you for everyone who joined us- here is what was going on during the week.

Continue reading