Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2017 Edition — Part One

 

 

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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

 

 

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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

 

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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

“The Uncomfortable Conversation” — Using “Streetwise” as a Tool for Advocacy

Editor’s Note: As part of our ongoing “Streetwise Revisited” work, our student project assistants are blogging about key events. Both Khadija and Shan wrote about the “Streetwise” screening, first Khadija and now Shan.

By Shan Yonamine, Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

 

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Poster for our campus screening of “Streetwise,” designed by Amy Phung.

 

“It didn’t change anything for us then,” said Erin “Tiny” Blackwell’s daughter Keanna Pickett about the impact of the documentary “Streetwise” on her family. “When people watch it, it’s a movie. You’re able to go about your life after you watch it.” In other words, Keanna was able to remove herself emotionally because the film can elicit powerful emotions that may be uncomfortable to deal with.

However, when “Tiny’s” daughter tells you that “Streetwise” should be used as the catalyst for an “uncomfortable conversation” about family and youth homelessness, you listen. Continue reading

The Fight for Her Life — “Streetwise” and Keanna’s Triumphant Story

Editor’s Note: As part of our ongoing “Streetwise Revisited” work, our student project assistants are blogging about key events. Both Khadija and Shan wrote about the “Streetwise” screening; here’s how Khadija saw it.

By Khadija Diallo, project assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness 

 

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Keanna Pickett, educator, photographer, social justice activist and daughter of Erin “Tiny” Blackwell.

Keanna Pickett said that she “had to fight for her life from her first breath.”

When Keanna said that at our campus screening of the film “Streetwise” Oct. 7, it  stuck with me, because most of us fight to succeed and make something of our lives. But for Keanna, that quote had more meaning — because she said her mother, Erin “Tiny” Blackwell, while pregnant with her, did “every possible drug” to try to kill her in the womb.

That sort of revelation from her mother could have possibly caused a permanent rift in their relationship. Apparently it didn’t, because Keanna seemed  perfectly comfortable talking about her difficult upbringing. Continue reading

The Woman Behind “Streetwise” — Exploring the Work of Mary Ellen Mark

Michelle Dunn Marsh of Photographic Center Northwest describes the enduring legacy of her mentor at this “Streetwise Revisited” event at The Seattle Public Library 

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Mary Ellen Mark. Photo by Joni Kabana Photography

 

By Shan Yonamine, Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

 

When I think of the “Streetwise” documentary, the image that immediately fills my mind is “Tiny in her Halloween costume” – the iconic photo of Erin “Tiny” Blackwell dressed elegantly in black, her stare piercing through the thin veil over her eyes. Many people will recognize this photo of Tiny, but they may not know about the photographer who made this iconic photo.

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Tiny in Her Halloween Costume. Photo by Mary Ellen Mark

I had the opportunity to attend an art history talk on Oct. 5 by Michelle Dunn Marsh – the executive director of Photographic Center Northwest and colleague of renowned documentary photographer, Mary Ellen Mark – and I learned more about the photographer behind this classic image.

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Michelle Dunn Marsh. Photo by Sylvia Plachy.

Continue reading

Remembering “Streetwise” — Why We’re Revisiting the Classic Documentary

By Shan Yonamine, Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

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When I joined this team a few months ago, I was given the chance to watch and react to films about youth and family homelessness. My favorite, by far, was “Streetwise.”

It has been over three decades since this revered documentary first stunned the American public; however, the legacy of the film lives on, as many of the social issues illuminated in the film remain extremely relevant today. After watching “Streetwise” I found that it is not only an artistic representation of youth homelessness in Seattle, but also a powerful tool for advocacy.

As a project, we recognize the historical poignancy of this film, and we will be hosting a free screening on Friday, Oct.7 at Seattle University for anyone who wants the opportunity to watch this significant documentary. This is part of The Seattle Public Library’s “Streetwise Revisited” project, and the screening is just one way we are supporting the project.

In “Streetwise,” renowned photographer Mary Ellen Mark, her husband, Martin Bell and producer Cheryl McCall take us on a journey by providing us with a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to be a homeless youth living on the streets of Seattle – a perspective that was only made possible by spending months observing, building relationships with and gaining the trust of the children they chronicled.

Erin (who goes by her street name “Tiny”) on Pike Street, Seattle, 1983
Erin (who goes by her street name “Tiny”) on Pike Street, Seattle, 1983. Photo by Mary Ellen Mark.

After watching “Streetwise” for the first time, I was taken aback to say the least. The film is stunning, raw, heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time, which is not what I expected from a “documentary about youth homelessness in Seattle.” Continue reading

“The Story Told Itself” — Catching Up with Tiny

Film about formerly homeless teen is screened at NAEH Conference

By Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness
Erin (who goes by her street name “Tiny”) on Pike Street, Seattle, 1983
Erin (who goes by her street name “Tiny”) on Pike Street, Seattle, 1983. Photo by Mary Ellen Mark, courtesy of Falkland Road Productions.

The revered documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark died months ago, but we felt her presence very strongly as we watched her final work on the night of Feb. 18, 2016. Continue reading