Collective Urgency, Spirit of Support — Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day 2019

HHAD 2019 Olympia A&C with structure

By Connor Crinion and Anneke Karreman, Project Assistants, Seattle University Project on Family  Homelessness

 

Note: Every year our student project assistants create a special event to support Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD) in Olympia, and every year there’s a special twist that reflects the creativity and energy of that team. So when more than 600 advocates from around the state filled the steps of the Legislative Building on Feb. 28, 2019, they saw something new and different: a special art installation created by our project assistants, Anneke and Connor. They reflect on what they’ll take away from this whole experience, which started last fall with the eviction reform fact sheets they created for WLIHA.

 

What were your expectations before HHAD, and what’s your perspective now after participating?

Anneke: What I thought about HHAD before I got there was chanting on the steps and meeting with legislators about housing and homelessness advocacy, but in reality it turned out to be much more. It was a bonding experience in that everyone was there for the same thing, but with different levels of experience and different lived experiences. It didn’t matter if you had gone before or not; everyone was welcome.

HHADflier(FINALcorrected SINGLE)_1-11-19
Because WLIHA was short-staffed on communications this year, they asked us for help creating a flier. Here’s the flier Anneke designed.

Connor: In some ways, HHAD was similar to the expectations that I had, and in other ways it was quite different. Meeting with legislators and legislative aides felt familiar, as I’ve done that in the past at various lobby days that I’ve attended. However, HHAD also provided a sense of community that I’ve never felt before while engaged in advocacy—meeting advocates and activists throughout the day felt like being welcomed into a broad community. Whether the connection was fleeting, or something that may last more long-term, it felt powerful to connect with others based on our shared values.

Photo Feb 28, 1 43 54 PM (1)
Part of the HHAD community: SU Prof. Rashmi Chordiya joined us for the day, and our partner Eric Bronson of Firesteel/ YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish was among the many advocates we saw that day. Here, Rashmi, Anneke, Eric and Connor pose in front of the flag of King County and other Washington counties, in the Legislative Building.

What was the postcard project, what was your role, and why did you decide to do it?

IMG_6961
Connor and Anneke at one of the postcard tabling events, in Cherry Street Market, our main dining facility.

Anneke: This project was designed to educate and engage the community at Seattle University to advocate for different policies regarding student homelessness, eviction reform, and affordable housing in Washington state.  To expand on the successful advocacy postcard project that Katie, Madison and Tess did last year, we thought up a way for the postcards to be displayed in a way that also alluded to the spirit of support for those who experience housing instability and loss. We decided on a “house”-like structure to symbolize the intrinsic importance of the home and the foundation it provides for a person’s success and well being.

The postcards I designed utilize the human symbol of the hand and connect it to the home through its combination with household belongings.

 

HHAD Tabling Event 2_2-20-19_by Hallie three cards
Anneke’s friend Hallie came by the tabling event and became one of our most enthusiastic supporters. Here she displays the three postcards, each with a different theme related to this year’s legislative agenda. Photo by Hallie.

 

Connor: My contributions to the display structure and postcard project mainly related to writing the copy for the postcards, legislative research, and handling some of the logistics related to placing the structure on the Capitol campus in Olympia. To help in writing the copy, I was able to draw in knowledge from classes and past work experiences to better inform how we discussed and framed issues of eviction, affordable housing, cost burden for renters, and the challenges faced by students experiencing homelessness.

hhad-tabling-event-rudy.jpg
SU’s mascot, Rudy the Redhawk, stopped by one of our tabling events. “Home is a warm nest,” he wrote (with a little help from Connor).

I am grateful that collecting the advocacy postcards – nearly 200 — provided us with the opportunity to engage the Seattle University community in critical discussion about the tremendous need for housing in our city and state. For me, deciding to display the postcards allowed us to connect our community to the larger statewide movement for housing justice. Even though only Anneke and I were the only SU students to travel down to Olympia, our display was a reminder that we were joined in spirit by many remote advocates, both those from SU and others.

 

Photo Feb 28, 12 49 20 PM
We visited the office of Anneke’s representative, Sen. Christine Rolfes, who’s also the chair of Senate Ways & Means. Because of her leadership role, we delivered the postcards about affordable housing and student homelessness to her.

 

What’s one moment or memory that stands out to you from the day?

 

HHAD Olympia display from back
The postcards could be displayed on both sides of the structure; here’s the view looking up at the Legislative Building.

Anneke: One of the most compelling parts of HHAD to me was the drumming and prayer led from indigenous members from Chief Seattle Club. A woman from the Lakota tribe led the prayer which she spoke in both her first indigenous language, then in English. Sage was burned during this time and the rich smoke wafted from the parking lot up to the steps. There was something truly special about that moment, to hear the expression of an ancient and endangered language by a native leader. Her speech was also followed by a drumming session by members of the club.

HHAD Olympia Chief Seattle drum circle
Members of Chief Seattle Club led the crowd in drumming and prayer. Photo from Chief Seattle Club.

The rhythmic beat of the drum connected everyone there in that moment and made me think about how we all stood on indigenous land of the Duwamish tribe. It was also mentioned how Native Americans have been the top demographic to experience homelessness. In truth, it started a long time ago during the time of Westernization and assimilation and natives were forced from their home spaces.

Connor: One aspect that struck me was the scale and the collective urgency that I felt while participating. Gathering on the steps of the Legislative Building in Olympia with hundreds of other advocates was a moment that reminded me of the stakes of the day, and the potential impact that our advocacy could have on the lives of thousands of Washingtonians.

As WLIHA staff and other HHAD participants led chants with the 600-strong crowd gathered on the steps, I almost felt like I could feel the possibility of a world with more just eviction laws, more affordable housing, and fewer students experiencing homelessness. While obviously our chanting alone did not get us there, I believe the collective power that it represented will help us get a bit closer to that world.

 

HHAD Olympia rally
Advocates gather on the steps of the Legislative Building to rally for housing justice.

  

What are you most proud of from your experience at HHAD?

Anneke: I am most proud of the potential ways in which this project inspired people at HHAD, at Seattle University, and lawmakers to have conversations about housing affordability, eviction reform, and student homelessness. I really hope that lawmakers will read each postcard thoroughly.

HHAD Olympia with Chopp Anneke talking
At the 43rd District meeting, Anneke describes the project to Speaker Frank Chopp. Later, we delivered the eviction-themed postcards to him.

Possibly, the postcards will influence some of the outcome of some law decisions around housing and eviction reform.

IMG_6964
Last year, the sticker with the image of the red advocacy scarf was a big hit. Madison Vucci, our student design assistant last year and now SU alum, updated the sticker for 2019.

 

I am also proud of our team of three that enabled this installation to happen. It was a crazy idea to start out, which seemed unattainable at times, but all of our meetings discussing logistics and content paid off. I am honored that I could bring local Seattle voices to the Capitol and support those who need it the most through public art. As a team of only two project assistants, I am very proud of the way Connor and I brought our strengths to the table for this project.

HHAD Olympia Anneke and dad installing
Anneke’s dad, Frank Karreman, is an architect who designed the structure. He even came to Olympia to help us install it.

 

The video below, by Prof. Chordiya, shows a close-up of some of the postcard messages.

 

Connor: There’s a lot to be proud of. First and foremost, I think Anneke and her dad, Frank, deserve recognition and appreciation for the hard work that they put into creating the structure. Without them, displaying the postcards would not have been possible.

I am also proud of our entire team for the way that we collaborated to get the project done. From Catherine helping us through brainstorming and anticipating challenges, to the way Anneke and I collaborated to integrate the written messaging with the vision for the design of the hand, I think our collaboration and flexibility made this project possible.

HHAD Olympia installation roof
Anneke and Connor, directed by Anneke’s dad, Frank, install the roof on the display.

 

Lastly, a short thank you from Anneke and Connor:

In recognition that this project was a collaborative effort, we would like to conclude by thanking many of the people that helped make it possible. Many thanks to the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance for organizing this day, as well as Seattle University’s Facilities Team for their assistance in getting this project down to Olympia.

HHAD Olympia Dimitri
Dimitri Groce managed HHAD and took care of thousands of details. Thank you, Dimitri!

In particular, thank you to Dimitri Groce of WLIHA for all his support and encouragement throughout the process.

Thank you to our Project Supervisor Catherine for supporting us in every way throughout this project. Thank you Prof. Rashmi Chordiya for your positive presence and technical support at Olympia during the event.

 

 

HHAD Olympia A C C installation
The team at the end of a long but rewarding day: Connor, Catherine, Anneke. Photo by Rashmi Chordiya.

 

We’d also like to thank Kristina Sawyckyj, the 43rd District legislative lead (and SU student), for her support in our meeting with Speaker Chopp.

Thank you also to Frank Karreman; you made the “house” design come to life.

HHAD Olympia Frank and Anneke
Architect Frank Karreman and daughter, Anneke, a talented design team!

 

Finally, we are grateful to all the Seattle University students, faculty, staff, and community members who took the time to write a postcard — thank you for adding your voice to a statewide movement.

 

 

 

All photos by Catherine Hinrichsen unless otherwise noted. 

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

“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

“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

“Create Change” — A Day to Change How We Think about Art, Advocacy and Homelessness

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

Art is my coping mechanism. During the artistic process, there is power in the hands of the maker. Regardless of whether anyone sees the result or even if it is “good,” this power is healing, inspiring and uplifting.

At The Seattle Public Library’s “Create Change: Youth & Family Homelessness and the Arts” event on Oct. 29, 2016, I had the opportunity to come together with a community of people to find out how art can be used to take action towards ending youth and family homelessness. You can see an in-depth description of the full day of performances, speakers and arts events here in this story by my colleague Shan.

Continue reading