Tag Archives: Neighbor to Neighbor Program

30 Years of MFPA: Advocating for Police Transformation

by Kamna Shastri

Reverend Harriet Walden has dedicated decades of her life to holding police accountable for their conduct, since long before slogans of “defund the police” echoed along city streets. In 1991, she founded Mothers Against Police Harassment, now known as Mothers For Police Accountability (MFPA). She is admired and respected for her work — and rightly so. A power-house with clear vision, Walden has been advocating for law enforcement to be held accountable for thirty years. Her legacy is powerful.

The incident that sparked Walden’s activism took place on a mid-summer evening on Aug. 5, 1990. One of Walden’s sons was riding home from a community festival with two friends. As the boys were rounding the corner at 29th Avenue South and South Jackson Street, Seattle police officers stopped them, saying they were looking for drugs. Walden’s other son was in the house nearby and came outside because of the noise. The four boys — all high school graduates on their way to college — began to argue with the police, explaining that they had no drugs in their possession, and the argument escalated.

In a 1995 interview on Network X, Walden recounts how the police held guns to the boys’ heads and that all four were beaten up and arrested. Walden was rightfully angry at how the police had treated her sons and their friends, especially as they were found wrongfully charged. Walden was able to get the charges dropped for the youth but sued the City of Seattle for misconduct.

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For 27 Years, SCS Has Been a Catch-All for Seattle’s Somali Community

by Kamna Shastri

As an immigrant, it can be grating and alienating to go about your daily life without hearing the familiar lilt of your mother tongue. When you have moved to the United States to escape war or political instability and are trying to put down roots, it’s as important to retain a connection to your community as it is to make inroads into this new culture. This was the case for Sahra Farah, founder and director of Somali Community Services (SCS) of Seattle, based in Renton.

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It Takes a Village: The Multicultural Care Network of ODMF

by Kamna Shastri

How do you navigate a support system for people with disabilities when you don’t know English? The compounding circumstances of having a disability, or caring for a loved one with a disability, while also struggling to master an American standard of English creates a unique need for multicultural families. As it is, the reams of paperwork, bureaucracy, and agencies that make up the maze of social services are already convoluted even if one knows English and has few barriers to access.

Open Doors for Multicultural Families (ODMF) has been dedicated to filling this service gap through a cultural brokerage model and systems-change approach. The organization was founded in 2009 by Ginger Kwan, whose vision was to see all “culturally and linguistically diverse individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and their families thrive in an inclusive society of their own design.” Since its founding, ODMF has helped connect over a thousand individuals and families with tailored support and language access. Kwan now serves as the organization’s executive director.

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Dream Away: Washington Dream ACT Coalition Is Led by and for Undocumented Youth

by Kamna Shastri

Ray Corona knew hardly anything about politics and even less about the Washington State Legislature. Yet, as a high school student in 2009, he boldly stood at the head of a room full of legislators in Olympia and testified for a bill that would alter the lives of undocumented young adults forever. He was one of the first students to speaks candidly about his status as an undocumented person. Little did he know that the other students waiting in line to speak were not going to be doing that.

“In many ways that was the first time I sort of came out very publicly about my status, on the record for the [Washington] State Dream Act. That is sort of what prompted my activism with [the] immigrant community, specifically with the undocumented community,” said Corona.

Many of the other young students who had come to testify at this public hearing were part of other organizations and had been coached and mobilized to testify before the Legislature. Corona, however, had heard about the proposed bill from his school counselor who urged him to get involved.

From there, Corona began to organize and became friends with Monserrat Padilla (now at Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network). The two created what was at the time the Washington Dream Act Coalition (WADAC), a coalition that was led by and for young undocumented students.

“We wanted to make sure undocumented youth were at the center and were the ones coming up with these solutions because as the campaign evolved for the State Dream Act, there were many times that allies were willing to compromise just to get a bill passed,” said Corona.

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yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective is Here to Lift the Sky and Make a Space for Indigenous Art

by Kamna Shastri

There is a Coast Salish story about a number of neighboring villages, each speaking a different language but sharing the same land. While they did not understand one another, they had a shared challenge: When the Creator had made the world, he had left the sky a little too low. The village communities realized that though they spoke different languages, they had a shared word that could help them change the situation.

yəhaw̓ — a Lushootseed word meaning “to proceed” or “move forward.” Together they called out synchronously. Each time the word escaped their lips, a collective sound powerful and potent, the sky moved up just a little more.

This is the story behind yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective, a newly birthed nonprofit which became a larger movement after beginning as a one-time art show at King Street Station in 2019.

“We felt like that was a really beautiful story in terms of art and the power of art and culture to unite communities and become a source of shared empowerment,” said Asia Tail, one of the collective’s three founders.

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