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

Two Worlds Collide: Inequality in America

A “Sleep Out” in Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza during Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week in mid-November. Photo Credit: Laura Tarnosky, <a href="http://streetsense.org/article/covenant-house-advocates-freedom-plaza-sleep-out-previews-vigil/#.VlzIkmSrRz9" target="_blank"><span class="s1">Street Sense.</span></a>
A “Sleep Out” in Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza during Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week in mid-November. Photo Credit: Laura Tarnosky, Street Sense.
Written by Lindsey Habenicht, Seattle University student and project assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Wandering around the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., and trying to find the building where I interned for the summer, I passed by eight people on the streets. A cacophony of voices—begging and pleading for someone to help—overwhelmed me, as did my inability to help them on my own. I had been in the District for less than 24 hours and already witnessed the plight of people who are homeless in excruciating detail. No matter where I walked, I continued to hear the same calls:

“Excuse me, do you have any change?”

Continue reading

Portraits of Homelessness

Sharing the Depth of the Human Experience: “Portraits of Homelessness” at the 2015 Global Street Paper Summit

By Lindsey Habenicht, Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Lindsey with conference passEditor’s Note: Seattle University hosted the International Network of Street Papers (INSP)  Global Street Paper Summit June 24-26, 2015, which welcomed more than 120 journalists from street papers in 22 countries, including Seattle’s Real Change. Our assistant, Lindsey Habenicht (above), is spending the summer as an intern for one of those papers, Street Sense of Washington, D.C. Before she left Seattle, Lindsey attended the Summit as a street paper communicator and volunteer blogger. This is an adapted version of Lindsey’s post for the Summit.

The narrative of what homelessness is and is not is often uninformed, uneducated, and even unknown completely. While many are aware of the issue of homelessness, they remain unaware of the person: the veteran, the child, the musician, the artist, the entrepreneur, and the like.

“Why is that?” asked Rex Hohlbein of Facing Homelessness. “How could [we] be so disconnected from the simple and obvious fact that homelessness involves real people with real suffering?”

Rex

Keynote speaker Rex Holbein started the Facebook page “Homeless in Seattle”’ in March of 2011 to share something beautiful about each person living on the street. Photo courtesy of facinghomelessness.org

Rex was the keynote speaker at the Global Street Paper Summit’s opening night event, “Portraits of Homelessness,” June 24, which told stories through more than 100 works of visual art, films and audio recordings. Continue reading

Can Social Media End Homelessness? A Look at New Research

By Lindsey Habenicht

Lindsey

Note: Please welcome to our team Lindsey Habenicht, a Seattle University strategic communications junior. Lindsey just got back from a highly regarded student research conference, where she shared a unique perspective on homelessness. Here’s her report.

“3,772.” I paused and watched people exchange confused glances.

“3,772,” I continued, “That’s how many men, women, and children were without shelter during King County, Washington’s three-hour street count. That number is an increase of 21 percent over those found without shelter last year, yet it is still assumed to be an undercount.” I paused again — this time to see looks of disbelief.

“Are you surprised?” 30 heads nodded yes. “Case-in-point, popular media suffers a severe void when it comes to sharing stories of homelessness.”

This is how I started my presentation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, April 16-18 at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash. I had been invited to share my research as one of 3,000 students at the conference. Continue reading

Firesteel Adds New StoryCorps Section to their Website

***This post is a repost from the Firesteel website

Introducing the New StoryCorps Section of Our Website!

Alexis Gaines and her case manager Tanya Mendenhall Mettlen participated in the StoryCorps "Finding Our Way" project. In a new audio story produced from their interview, Alexis talks about how she tried to create positive memories for her son, even as they experienced homelessness together. Image credit: StoryCorps
Alexis Gaines and her case manager Tanya Mendenhall Mettlen participated in the StoryCorps “Finding Our Way” project. In a new audio story produced from their interview, Alexis talks about how she tried to create positive memories for her son, even as they experienced homelessness together. Image credit: StoryCorps

Written by Denise Miller, Firesteel Advocacy Coordinator

A Tacoma mom remembers being evicted from her home, and looking for a tent for her family of five. A Seattle teenager describes the challenges of doing homework while living in a car. A South King County11-year-old reflects on losing friends when they learned she didn’t have a home. These are just a few of the stories captured by the StoryCorps “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness” initiative last summer, and now featured on a new section of our website.

I’ve been talking about the “Finding Our Way” project for almost a year now. Last spring, as we began inviting people to sit down with a loved one and share how homelessness has affected them, I wrote about how personal stories can build bridges between people and drive social change. Over the summer, I shared some of the most moving moments from our recording days. At Thanksgiving, I posted gratitude for the brave men, women and children who participated in the project and gave permission for their stories to be used for advocacy.

Now it’s time to invite you to listen to and share audio clips produced from the recordings. Our new StoryCorps page currently features five short stories that help listeners understand how homelessness affects families in our community, and we’ll continue adding stories over coming months.

Read more at the Firesteel website here.

Learn more about the StoryCorps project. Continue reading

3rd Annual Social Media 101 for Housing Advocates Hangout, Jan. 27 – Register Now!

Social Media 101 photo
Erin Murphy of YWCA is one of the Hangout leaders; this is a screen shot from the first Hangout two years ago.

 

Effective use of social media is a great way to reach a target audience, and advocate for the issues you care about — like affordable housing and an end to homelessness.

So, join us on Tuesday, January 27 at 10:30 a.m. for our third annual “Social Media 101 for Housing Advocates” Hangout. Co-hosted with Firesteel and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, this will be a free training session for people who want to learn how to use social media to advocate online for affordable housing issues. The session will help you understand and use social media sites and apps like Twitter and Facebook, and show you how to join with organizations to be an online housing advocate.

There are two ways to access the training:

Option 1: Access Online By Yourself via Webinar

The organizers will be facilitating this workshop as a live Google Hangout video conference, running from 10:30-11:30 a.m. So, participants will be able to attend from anywhere they choose. Register now!

Option 2: Watch in a Room with Other Advocates

If you want a more hands-on approach, you can come to Seattle University’s Chardin Hall, room 145, to watch the live 45-minute webinar and exchange ideas and ask questions afterwards till about 12:30 p.m. Seattle U’s social media marketing specialist, Sarah Hyde, will be on hand to help us think through how we can use social media techniques to advocate year round. Coffee and snacks will be available. Please register by Friday, Jan. 23 for this option if you can.

Agenda for Option 2
10:30 – 11:30am      Video conference
11:30 – 12:30pm      Follow-up coaching and Q & A
Coffee and snacks will be provided. Please bring your own lunch.

We highly recommend that you bring your laptop and/or a mobile device with you, but it is not required. Paid parking is available on the street (12th Avenue is easiest) or in the Murphy garage.  There is also limited free two-hour parking in the streets east of the university. Please see this campus map for details on parking and room location.

Hope to see you there!

“Goodness, Resilience and Love”: Formerly Homeless Tacoma Family on StoryCorps Friday, 11/28

StoryCorps Gilliard Family-official version

Franklin and Sherry Gilliard, the Tacoma family whose story aired on StoryCorps Nov. 28.

We’re feeling grateful for the bounty of heartfelt stories that Puget Sound families told StoryCorps this summer, and amazingly, a second story from our project has been selected for national broadcast.  The story aired Friday morning, Nov. 28 during StoryCorps’ “National Day of Listening” on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.

The story was recorded as part of our project, “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness.” “Finding Our Way,” funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a collaboration between Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (CCS), YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish and Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness.

StoryCorps Tacoma sign on door
The Gilliard family first recorded their story at CCS in July. Here’s the “farewell and thanks” sign that CCS staff posted on their front door that week.

The story, “Once Homeless, Family Feels ‘Blessed To Wake Up Another Day,'” features the Gilliard family of Tacoma, Wash., who first recorded their story at CCS in July. StoryCorps producer Eve Claxton heard their story and invited them back for an additional recording in early November, also at CCS, and from that recording the story was produced. Here’s the official description of the story:

Sherry Gilliard talks with her husband Franklin Gilliard about losing their business and subsequently their home after the economic crash, their experience of becoming homeless and living in a shelter with their three children, and the love and faith that brought them through these hardships. The family is now in transitional housing in Tacoma, Wash.

“Friday is our ‘National Day of Listening,’ and for that broadcast we always try to air pieces that embody goodness, resilience and love,” Eve said. “The Gilliards are a very special family and everyone here is excited to share their story on such a special day.”

Continue reading

“Stepping Into Homelessness”: Our first edited StoryCorps recording features United Way leader

Haley selfie laptop
Haley Jo Lewis created the “Stepping Into Homelessness” audio piece on her laptop, using GarageBand.

Our project assistant, Seattle U senior Haley Jo Lewis, recently revealed yet another talent. Project manager Catherine asked Haley if she knew how to do audio editing. Haley said, “I like GarageBand.”

So, we asked her to see what she could do with a CD copy of a StoryCorps recording that Catherine had done with one of our project’s key partners, Vince Matulionis of United Way of King County.

The result: Haley’s just-published Firesteel package that includes a three-minute piece on Soundcloud and an accompanying blog post.

The package, “Stepping Into Homelessness: Domestic Violence and the Power of Empathy”:

  • Gives us insight into what drives people like Vince, one of Seattle’s leaders in ending homelessness, and what keeps him doing the sometimes-frustrating work.
  • Supports October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities, on which we’ve collaborated with Firesteel and the YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish County. (Emma’s earlier NFL & DV series was part of this too.)
  • Launches us into the next phase of the StoryCorps project, in which we’ll be working with Firesteel to produce potentially several dozen audio pieces like this.

Here’s the re-posted piece from Firesteel. Check it out! And way to go, Haley! Continue reading

Inside “Heartbroken”: What we’ve all learned about domestic violence and the NFL

http://firesteelwa.org/2014/10/heartbroken-a-young-female-fan-reacts-to-domestic-violence-and-the-nfl/
Emma Lytle with her boyfriend,  Ricky Martinez. She’s a lifelong Seahawks fan, but has recently been dismayed by the domestic violence incidents in the NFL.

It”s hard to believe, but when we first conceived of this blog series for Firesteel in late July, one of the most notorious, most-shared videos in history hadn’t even surfaced yet. All we knew was that last spring, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had been seen in a surveillance video dragging the unconscious body of his then-fiancee Janay Palmer out of an elevator — an apparent domestic violence incident. We didn’t know yet what had happened inside the elevator.

As the National Football League (NFL) dithered about trying to decide how to handle that situation, we found out our project assistant, Emma Lytle, is a true-blue Seahawks fan. And we thought it might be fascinating to look at the incident through her eyes. So, we asked her to share her perspective via a Firesteel blog post for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Since then, it’s been a roller coaster. The shocking video* from inside the elevator was leaked — but why did it take so long and when did the NFL know about it? What’s the appropriate response to these incidents? Continue reading

As Heard on NPR: Homelessness Threatens Student Success

This is a re-post of an article published on Firesteel’s blog Aug. 22, 2014.

In a StoryCorps conversation that aired on NPR this morning, Erika (left) talks with her mom about attending high school while living in a car. Image from StoryCorps.
In a StoryCorps conversation that aired on NPR this morning, Erika (left) talks with her mom about attending high school while living in a car. Image from StoryCorps.

Written by Denise Miller, Firesteel Advocacy Coordinator

More than 30,000 schoolchildren in Washington state are experiencing homelessness.

In a heart-wrenching story that aired on NPR this morning, one of these students, Erika, talks about the challenges of attending high school while living in a car with her family. Listen on the StoryCorps website.

Erika’s story was collected as part of the Gates Foundation’s “Finding Our Way” initiative, which has given more than 150 people in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties a chance to share in their own words how homelessness has affected their lives.

Read This Post in Full.

See More about our StoryCorps Project.