Emerald in the Rough: Arm Yourself

By Cindi Laws

Special to the South Seattle Emerald

It’s rough out here. But people aren’t protecting themselves with their best weapon. Not only are people the world-over dying to have access to this weapon, people in this country are dying because the weapon isn’t being used.

The weapon? The Vote.

It’s getting a lot of attention lately. Not enough attention, in my opinion, because it is indeed a matter of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or at least a matter of life and death.

48 years after passage of the Voting Rights Act, last year the US Supreme Court severely weakened this landmark legislation. Since that time, red state after southern state enacted limitations and barriers to prevent people from voting. Those most affected are, of course, the poor and people of color. It is an outrage that the same country ostensibly led by those fighting for democracy planet-side watch gleefully while hundreds of thousands of African Americans are culled from voter lists. Presidential aspirants claim allegiance to the myth of voter fraud in celebration of such discriminatory actions.

But the real tragedy, the appalling, horrifying, head-slapping, the what-the-HELL-are-you-thinking Act of Idiocy, is that tens of millions of American Citizens let this happen because they don’t vote. They don’t even register to vote. And when that happens, shit happens.

Ferguson, Missouri. You’ve watched the video. Heard the heartbreak. And while political and partisan divisions are rife throughout the country, the greatest division is that which comes between the voting population and those who are elected. Those who cast their vote hire the police chief, the city prosecutor, judges. Ferguson is 67% African American, yet the mayor and five of six city councilmembers are not. In Ferguson, only 6% of African Americans actually cast ballots in that last election for mayor and councilmembers. Six is the age a first-grader learns that they have rights in this country. It should not be the percentage of people who cast ballots.

As the Federal Department of Justice investigation of Seattle police actions under different mayors and police chiefs indicate, shit happens here in Seattle too. In 2013, voters city-wide had enough of Mayor Mike McGinn’s obstructionism in regards to the DOJ’s decree and demand for police reform. They tossed him out of office. But voters in the Rainier Valley overwhelmingly supported McGinn’s re-election. Say wha….??

These past few years, there has been great “discomfort” in the Rainier Valley with many of the actions of City leaders, whether it is in zoning and other land decisions, transit and transportation issues, proposals to increase rents in public housing, and more. People are posting and protesting. People are screaming or stalking out of meetings in silent disgust. People are fomenting and frothing about this action or that apparent inaction. But what people are NOT doing is voting.

According to the Washington Redistricting Commission, each legislative district holds 137,235 residents (that’s the state’s population of 6.7 million divided as evenly as possible into 49 legislative districts. But here’s a problem: only 58% (80,710) of our people in the 37th LD are registered to vote. In comparison, a whopping 74% of those in the 36th LD, which includes Queen Anne, Magnolia and Ballard are registered to vote. Any guesses why they get attention from city leaders?

It gets worse. Fewer than 25,000 people in our district voted in the August primary. 30% of registered voters. But the math works out so that just 17.7% of the people who live here cast ballots.

But wait. There’s more. Census figures show that 25% of the entire population in the Southest Seattle area is African American. Yet fewer than 5% of our registered voters are African American. And those who cast ballots? Do the math. We are far, far worse off than Ferguson. Similar patterns are spread across many of our racial groups.

But the good people of Ferguson have armed themselves. They are gathering the most important weapons in this country. Since Michael Brown was murdered on August 9, voter registration booths have sprung up throughout the city and surrounding neighborhoods, registering nearly 3,500 people in a town of 21,000.

Southeast Seattle: arm yourselves. Use your weapon.

Register to vote online before midnight October 6, 2014 at http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/myvote/

Or, register to vote at the counter up until Monday, October 27 in person at King County Elections, 919 Southwest Grady Way in Renton, and.

Don’t yell. VOTE. It scares the Hell out of those who want to take away your rights.

Cindi Laws is a resident of the Rainier View neighborhood and a long-time activist. 

Seahawks’ Game Day Prediction

by Clint Elsemore

Photo courtesy of Seahawks.com
Photo courtesy of Seahawks.com

Fresh off the bye week and still feeling good emerging with an overtime win against Denver, our Seahawks now prepare for another primetime game on Monday night against the seemingly lowly Washington football team.

Washington features a strong running game behind Alfred Morris, and an inexperienced quarterback in Kirk Cousins who has had extreme highs and lows in the three games he has played this year.   Washington is coming off a blowout loss to their division rivals in New York with Cousins throwing 4 interceptions and losing a fumble.  They are dealing with key injuries along their offensive line, and in their defensive backfield making this seem like quite a mismatch on paper.  As a Seahawk fan I still do see cause for concern.  The primary reason is the Seahawks propensity to start slowly and struggle on the road.  They lost both of their preseason contests on the road, and lost their only road game to the Chargers in week 2, meaning their last road win occurred in 2013.  Offensively Washington has the ability to run the ball consistently if the game remains close, and has quality receivers in Garcon and Jackson on the outside.  They also expect to get back possibly both of their extremely athletic tight ends in Reed and Paul adding to their skill position weapons.

On defense Washington does a good job stopping opposing running games and can bring 3 quality rushers to get after the quarterback in Kerrigan, Orakpo, and Hatcher.  They struggle mightily in coverage however with inexperience at cornerback, safety, and linebacker.  This has led to them getting beat for big plays down the field and struggling to cover opposing tight ends in the passing game.

The time off will serve the rested and relatively healthy Seahawks well as they face a challenging road opponent.  This team gets up for primetime though, and I expect the offense to score early and often.  Building a two score lead in the first half makes Washington one dimensional and forces Cousins to take chances in the 2nd half down the field.  I expect the LOB to emerge with two picks and the line to sack Cousins at least 3 times.  On offense Russell and the wide receivers have big days passing for over 300 yards and accounting for three scores.  Marshawn is partially held in check on the ground, but has another strong game through the air reaching 100 total yards and still crossing the goal line one time.

Final game prediction: Seahawks 34 Washington Football Team 17

Sunday Stew: Democracy

by Matt Sedillo

Carival of Democracy Richard Habal
Democracy by Richard Habal

If a tree falls in the forest

And no one is there to hear it

Does it make a sound

If a ballot falls in a box

And no one knows

What they are voting for

Does it really count

What happens to a dream deferred

To justice deterred

To life

When it becomes impossible to live it

I don’t want to know

Because I want more than a vote

I want to be a participant


I want to live in a free country

A democracy

Where hate speech

Doesn’t pass for freedom


No one has to turn to crime

To feed their children

If you were to put

A measure on a ballot

I would vote for democracy

I want the same things as anyone

And i want them for everyone

I want to live in a free country

A democracy

Not with over two million

Locked in cages

Or millions more

Pushed into the street

Where as Ferguson shows

You cant even surrender

To police

One nation

Under ghetto birds

And terror copters

Locking down children

At the border

Cutting off


From their water

While cutting lunch programs

To drop bombs on Iraq

I dont want to live like that

I want to live in a free country

A democracy

What happens to a dream deferred

To justice deterred

To life

When it becomes impossible

To live it

If you don’t know who you are

You can never know your power

You dont know who you are

But you will soon find out

Let your voice be heard

And may it finally count

This Weekend In South Seattle: Birthday Time for the Collaboratory and “Bazaar” Backstreets

Events this weekend in the South Seattle area


Friday, October 3rd

Movies: Opening of Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck showtimes 12:30pm, 2:45pm, 7:15pm, 9:30pm @The Ark Lodge 4816 Rainier Avenue South. More Info: http://www.arklodgecinemas.com

Community: VFW Meat Raffle from 4 to 7pm @ Skyway VFW Hall 7421 S. 126th St Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: email persimmon1859@gmail.com

Community: Hillman City Collaboratory First Anniversary Party and Fundraiser beginning at 6:30pm @ The Collaboratory: 5623 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA. More Info: http://www.hillmancitycollaboratory.com

Music:  The Georgetown Orbits (Reggae) show begins at 8:30pm@ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com.


Saturday, October 4th

Community: Tortilla Making Classes  begins at 11:00am @ El Centro De La Raza: 2524 16th Avenue South Seattle 98144. More Info: development@elcentrodelaraza.com

Community: Detective Cookie’s Urban Chess Club with Pro Chess Instructor H.R.Pitre. From 12:00pm – 2:00pm @ Rainier Beach Community Center: 8825 Rainier Ave South Seattle. Ages 7 and Older. More Info: 206-650-3621 (Detective Cookie)

Music:  Kristin Chambers (Soul) show begins at 9:00pm@ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com.



Sunday, October 5th

Music: Backstreet Bazaar Community Hang begins at 6:00pm @ The Collaboratory: 5623 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA.  More Info: http://www.hillmancitycollaboratory.com

Music: Roosevelt High School Jazz Band show begins at 6:30pm @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

If you have an event to post, please email events@southseattleemerald.com



Humor Sauce: Fall Into Fall

by Mike Primavera

I’m glad summer is dead. I know that sounds harsh, but you should be too. From summer’s rotting corpse comes fall, my favorite season of all. Here are some reasons to rejoice with me:

Pumpkin spice my life

Lattes, candles, even Oreo jumped on the bandwagon. And why not? People like to trash talk pumpkin spice because it’s so “in your face” this time of year, but guess why? Because it’s delicious! I love pumpkin spice. Can’t get enough of it. They’ve been pumpkin spicing everything this year but I want more. Pumpkin spice deodorant. Pumpkin spice iPhones. I want pumpkin spice Xzibit to pumpkin spice my ride so I can drive it all the way to eggnog season.

It’s finally cooling off

Seattle isn’t built for the heat. Not enough places have air conditioning. Give me my flannel, jeans, and boots: official uniform of the Pacific Northwest. Most importantly of all: no more flip-flops. I don’t care to wear them personally, but moreover I don’t care to see other people’s toes. Especially dudes. No one wants to see you bro out with your toes out, Chad. Make those little piggies wee-wee-wee all the way home.

Return of the rain

After a very dry summer we should all welcome the rain back with open arms. Sure, it rains a lot in Seattle and makes everyone collectively drive 30 mph on the freeway, but without the rain the hipsters would never get wet. They obviously aren’t showering. Let the rain do its job. As the great Jeff Goldblum says in Jurassic Park, “Nature finds a way.”


The only time littering is okay is when the trees do it. Oranges, reds, and browns turn this city into an autumnal kaleidoscope of beauty. Summer just can’t compete with that. So go put on your long pants, jump in a pile of leaves, and save your Grinching for winter. Summer is dead and it’s not coming back; well, until next year.

I know the grey can get people down and us Seattleites have to enjoy every bit of sunshine we get, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate the fall for what it is. Pumpkin spice everything, covered feet, cleanish hipsters, and above all else, it showcases this beautiful part of the country we are all lucky enough to live in. Happy fall, everyone.

City Fruit: Combating Southend Food Insecurity An Apple at a Time

by Marcus Harrison Green

Volunteer Dave Beeman picks plums to add to City Fruit's harvest.
Volunteer Dave Beeman picks plums to add to City Fruit’s harvest.

If an apple falls from a tree in the city and there is no one around to pick it up and eat it, should you squeeze out even a granular amount of compassion for the pathetic plight of the neglected fruit? To this riff on the age old philosophical thought experiment that has plagued anyone with the mixed blessing of having attained a liberal arts degree, those associated with South Seattle’s City Fruit would answer an emphatic, “Yes,” though probably with considerably coarser language.

Located in Beacon Hill’s El Centro De La Raza, the urban fruit harvesting non-profit has spent the past six years ensuring that all unused fruit grown from trees in the greater Seattle area – which just so happens to be the United State’s largest urban orchard- is given a shot at landing in the bellies of the community’s food insecure.

With 1 in 5 children in the King County area currently going hungry at night- the ratio is slightly greater in South Seattle neighborhoods- City Fruit’s mission could not seem more relevant, as with inequality presently serving as verbal cheese- instantaneously transforming the drab into intriguing as long as it’s strewn with liberal amounts of the stuff- food disparities within communities conspicuously often only rates a minor mention in the discourse, something that the organization’s Executive Director, Catherine (Kate) Morrison, knows all too well.

“There’s the calorie dense things that people eat that aren’t necessarily good for you, so we fight food insecurity because we’re providing food for people who need it. We also fill the gap for those food desert areas, all while doing it in a culturally sensitive and community focused way,” she says.

Morrison is speaking to the fact that even in areas that are not technically food deserts- meaning that there is at least one convenience store or small grocer located within a reasonable proximity- many families, in making a paycheck stretch to the bounds of breaking, are forced to purchase cheap, high calorie foods that often have less nutritious content than the material they’re packaged in.

For some South Seattle families who struggle to feed a family of four, the joke about living off of Top Ramen noodles, Kool-Aid and processed macaroni and cheese is a lived reality. It’s one of the many reasons that City Fruit’s popularity in the area has taken off like a lit firework.

“Every single time someone hears about us and what we do, people automatically light up,” says Brian Mickelson, City Fruit’s Development Manager.

Though tackling food insecurity is at the forefront of its mission, the organization – founded in 2008 by Beacon Hill resident Gail Savina- may actually serve as the motherload to bleeding heart do-gooders everywhere, as it crosses off just about every “must have” on their fantasy Christmas list:

Community Beautification? The organization works with local tree owners to salvage fallen fruit that has piled up around their residences, many times creating both an “eyesore” and an impediment for pedestrians.

Local Residents Benefited?  As they serve the South Seattle haunts of Seward Park, Rainier Beach, Mount Baker, Columbia City and Beacon Hill (with possible expansion into Skyway) the majority of the fruit they harvest is distributed to daycares, schools, lunch programs and food banks within those neighborhoods.

Environment? Fret not Sierra Club card carriers and proud Prius lessees (or should I say all Seattleites…), in a world where eating local means living in New York while choosing an apple from Washington over a comparable one from Argentina, all of the fruit they harvest is distributed within the state of Washington. Even that which is not suitable for donation ends up in the restaurants of Chef Extraordinaire, Tom Douglas.

Employs Locals? While the organization utilizes volunteers, the majority of their fruit harvesters are actually paid staff who come directly from the neighborhoods City Fruit serves.

But okay, says the still unconvinced cynic, with the free fruit they’re giving away these maniacal fruit loving fanatics must of course be undercutting the local area Farmer’s Markets? No, actually. The organization goes out of its way not to distribute at local markets – not only to make sure to not impinge on local growers, but to also guarantee that the fruit they harvest remains in the confines of the 206 area code.

“We always want to make sure that our food is either in a food bank the same day or the next day and not sitting in anyone’s car, although I do have 60 lbs of Apples in mine.  But those are cooking Apples,” jokes Morrison, as she readies for the organization’s 4th annual Hard Cider Taste to be held November 6th at the Palace Ballroom.

“We’re something that citizen philanthropists can get behind full bore, because they have this stuff in their backyard,” says Mickelson. “They see all that’s going to waste, and the more fruit they can grow, the more efficient and targeted we can be. There’s a ton of room for collaboration with the community.”

It’s this hope for collaboration with the citizens of South Seattle that the still ripening non-profit hopes will allow them to reach their audacious goal: ensuring no one in the south end community lacks access to nutritious food, regardless of income.

Says Morrison, “My background is in public health, so for me access to healthy food is the foundation of a healthy community. It’s just that simple.”

Seattle’s Universal Pre-K Smackdown

by Sandra Vanderven

Preschool FightThe Seattle Channel hosted a debate last Wednesday between the sponsors of dueling initiatives on Seattle’s ballot in support of access to and quality of pre-kindergarten education.  Both plans start with the worthy goal of improving pre-k.  The choice we face is how to achieve that goal.  We shouldn’t be having to choose between them, because they each address different aspects of early childhood education, and taken together the plans would be complimentary.  Unfortunately, the City opted to put them onto the ballot in competition with one another. The City Council’s (really, Tim Burgess’s) plan privileges educator attainment of official credentials and a mandated curriculum.  The union backed plan seeks to leverage the wealth of experience among practicing professionals.

The situation right now is that the cost of preschool is so high that many families who need it can’t afford it.  At the same time, there isn’t enough money to pay the teachers adequately, so every year, 38% of the workers leave the profession.  Until the new minimum wage kicks in for smaller businesses, the turnover will be even greater, as people will leave to flip burgers instead when it becomes more lucrative.

Burgess’ plan seeks to raise money through a levy to pay for a new department of Early Childhood Education.  This new department will mostly pull people from work they are already doing for the city in that field, causing work disruption and delay, and likely requiring a new layer of management (watch for that, because expenses will go way up).  It will mandate methods used in the classroom for 3 and 4 year olds, and will serve about 200 kids in two years, and 2,000 in four years.  This ballot measure requires preschool teachers to get college degrees.

The union-backed plan doesn’t directly add enrollment capacity.  What it does do is provide access to preschool to more families by lowering tuition costs to no more than 10% of a given household’s income.  The means of paying for this has not yet been determined.  It will also create better conditions for the estimated 30,000 kids already being served from birth to age 5.  One way to do this is to raise the minimum wage sooner for pre-k teachers, so they can afford to stay in the profession, providing a consistent presence for the kids.  Another is by offering a variety of training opportunities accessible through an affordable training academy. In this way, the union backed plan honors the experience of the people who work with kids, and provides them with opportunities to grow professionally in a way that is tailored to meet each teacher’s needs and goals.

At last Wednesday’s early education smackdown, I sat next to former Seattle School Board member Michael DeBell.  He supports Tim Burgess’s initiative, which on the ballot will be labeled 1B.  From chatting with him, I got that he explains away the merits of the union backed initiative (1A) with an attitude that naysayers are gonna naysay.  I didn’t talk to him long enough to get a sense of whether he’s always a democratic establishment guy, but he sure wears their perfume.  The hallmark is a subscription to a smarty pants attitude, as evinced by his statement, “There’s always going to be some group or another ready to oppose a good plan.”  Never mind what the supporters of 1A think, or why.

This debate boils down to people’s a priori beliefs.  Some feel strongly that to support kids we need to support teachers and families.  Others think the answers lie with testing.  The catchword in education for at least the last decade or so has been “outcomes.”  This is an important and productive development.  But making all education conform to standard outcomes would be a mistake.  Here’s why.

Since I am totally objective, you know it is true when I tell you that the best teacher to ever walk the planet happened to work at my high school.  His name was Jerry Elarth.  Elarth was a feral thinker.  Because it was 1984 and no one had put a stop to it yet, he taught a class called Science Fiction and World Philosophy.  I learned more in that class about what it means to be human, and how to continue learning beyond school, than in any other.  What would have happened if that teacher had been hammered by our current obsession with outcomes?  Who could write the test questions that might evaluate what I got out of that class?  Even I couldn’t do that, and if I could, a different set of questions would have to be devised for every student he taught, because we all had a unique experience.

I love science, and I have a healthy regard for all things science-y.  This is how I have come to know that the enemy of science is hubris.  If you are convinced that we are always asking the right questions, then by all means, support Tim Burgess, who positions himself as having science on his side, like a member of a religious sect claiming that God is actually in his corner and no one else’s.  Check this out—if a nurse visits the home of a new, at-risk mom once every two weeks from before birth to age two offering guidance in nurturing, the child’s prospects rocket in all regards.  Significantly more of them graduate from high school, they go to jail in far fewer numbers, get in trouble at school way less, and have higher I.Q.s.  That’s science too, bub!

This all boils down to beliefs.  Do we Seattleites believe that there’s value in supporting teachers in their creative quests to guide students toward richer lives, or do we continue to find ways to standardize education?  Let your beliefs guide you when choosing between the two early education plans.

Sandra Vanderven is a Community Organizer and Board President of the Backbone Campaign.

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