Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with children at the Child Study Treatment Center (CSTC), the only state-run psychiatric hospital for youth in Washington State. Many CSTC youth are coping with severe emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Approximately 40% of youth arrive at CSTC having been court ordered to get treatment; however, by the end of their stay, most youth residents become voluntary participants. Pongo believes there is power in creative expression, and articulating one’s pain to an empathetic audience. Through this special monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery. For an opportunity to learn Pongo’s trauma-informed techniques for facilitating personal, healing poetry in your classroom, therapeutic practice, or community space, join their training on May 22.
by Bunthay Cheam
A collection of proposed legislation working its way through the Washington State Legislature could substantially change sentencing of young offenders, as well as revise sentences for those currently incarcerated.Continue reading Legislation Looks To Change Youth Sentencing, Offer Retroactive Relief
by Mark Van Streefkerk
At a time when social and racial inequities require urgent action, many are asking the question — how can we make a more just world? For the last 20 years, Rainier Scholars has offered answers to that question through education, providing academic access and leadership development to BIPOC and underserved youth. Now with newly-selected Executive Director Rafael del Castillo, Rainier Scholars looks to expand their impact with a greater emphasis on racial justice.Continue reading Rainier Scholars Welcomes New Executive Director Rafael del Castillo
by Alexis Mburu
Three years ago, if you were to ask me what the Black Lives Matter movement meant to me, I’d have given what I would now consider a lackluster answer. This is because three years ago, I was a seventh grader with a limited grasp on my identity and the world around me. Now, Black Lives Matter is a movement that holds so much weight it’s hard to imagine a time when I was so inattentive.
The 2017/2018 school year was the first year I participated in a Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action at my school in Tukwila, Washington, and it felt like a whisper. There was no energy or enthusiasm by the teachers I had because they were just doing what they were told, going through the motions with slides that were provided by anti-racist teachers with real passion, ones who educated and liberated their students all year round — teachers who saw the necessity in decolonizing the education system one step at a time, and, for the most part, knew how to. I was lucky enough to know such a teacher: Erin Herda, who has been teaching ethnic studies for years, despite endless push-back.
Unfortunately, the experience of only getting to have the necessary conversations, read the important books, and be taught true history if you have the right teachers is all too common.Continue reading Why We Need Black Lives Matter at School in 2021 — and How to Get Involved
by Chamidae Ford
For the past 38 years, hundreds to thousands of King County residents have arrived at Garfield High School on the third Monday morning in January. Rain or shine, they showed up to march in honor of one of the most important leaders of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The annual march, hosted by the Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Organizing Coalition (Seattle MLK), marks a time for the community to come together and not just honor Dr. King but to bring attention to the other issues facing the Black community.Continue reading The Annual Seattle MLK Jr. Day March Encourages You to Get Into Some Good Trouble
by Jack Russillo
From time immemorial, people living around the Duwamish River — where today’s city of Seattle has spread out from — have been heavily linked with the sea.
In September 2021, a new public Maritime High School will open its doors to give Seattle-area youth an opportunity to focus their education on the sea and other marine topics. On Monday, Jan. 11, the opening of Maritime High School was announced at a virtual press conference by partnering organizations Highline Public Schools, the Port of Seattle, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, and the Northwest Maritime Center.Continue reading New Public Maritime High School to Open in September, Applications are Open for Prospective Students
by Mark Van Streefkerk
“You see that I am always getting in trouble
Trouble follows me
like a shadow right behind me, always
You see that I am always in fights
Always rebel fights, arguments
But you don’t know me. I’m not that type of person
I’m really caring, giving
Always trying to help people”
Those are the opening lines to “Josiah,” a poem by 16-year-old Damian, a youth incarcerated at Seattle’s Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC), formerly King County Juvenile Detention. “Josiah” appears in The Shadow Beside Me, a new anthology of poems from youth at CFJC, published by the Pongo Poetry Project. In the poem, Damian writes about how life changed when his friend Josiah was shot and killed. “Josiah was the only person we knew who had graduated / had a job, and had something going for him / When he left, it broke me.”Continue reading ‘The Shadow Beside Me’: Seattle Nonprofit Debuts Poetry From King County Juvenile Detention
by Jasmine M. Pulido
Estrella Gonzales-Sanders’ parents may have been prophetic when they named her Estrella, the Spanish word for “star.” The young Renton resident has already danced in front of notable stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Barry Gordy, and Stevie Wonder, to name a few. Now, she has landed a small feature in Debbie Allen’s newly released Netflix documentary, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. And at age 12, Estrella’s own rise to stardom has only just begun.Continue reading Rising Star Estrella Gonzales-Sanders Featured in New Debbie Allen Netflix Documentary
by Jack Russillo
Over the first weekend of October, “close to 140 rounds” were fired in multiple incidents across parts of West and South Seattle. A hit-and-run occurred shortly after the biggest shooting, both events left victims dead.
“That isn’t a normal weekend. This is where we have to call upon our community and say that this violence has to stop,” said Seattle Police Department Interim Chief Adrian Diaz in a panel discussion with Converge Media and South Seattle Emerald on October 8. “There are victims in this. The community is traumatized by the rounds that are constantly being fired.”Continue reading Increased Community Efforts Seek to Thwart Gun Violence in South Seattle
by Carolyn Bick
King County Metro bus operator Sam Smith is worried about job security. Already, he said, Metro had to cut 200 part-time driver jobs in August, as a cost-saving measure, due to the economic fallout of the current novel coronavirus pandemic. In September, Metro reduced bus service by 15%. If Proposition 1 — which would continue a portion of public transit funding for the next five years — doesn’t pass, Smith thinks his job is likely on the chopping block. He also worries about the effect a lack of funding will have on the wider public.
“Cuts in transit right now are counter-productive. Routes that run in heavily populated areas such as the A Line, E Line, and the 7 which serves South Seattle are packed at capacity,” Smith said in an emailed statement to the Emerald.
In an effort to prevent these cuts, the Transit Riders Union (TRU) will be holding a Day of Action on Oct. 6, which is meant to frame public transportation as a mutual aid effort and make the case for voters to pass Proposition 1 in November. The TRU will also join national transit riders unions across the country that day in calling for the United States Congress to pass the HEROES Act, which includes $32 billion in emergency transit funds.Continue reading TRU to Hold Day of Action to Bolster Support for Crucial Public Transit Ballot Measure