First, some updates. According to the Seattle PI, Mayor Nickels is insisting Nickelsville must move from their current location at the University Christian Church by December 5. As noted in the Seattle Weekly, the Mayor is trying to fine the church, citing that only one tent city can exist under the consent decree (even though there’s obviously not enough room to combine the two, and Nickelsville is separate and aiming to be a shanty town). At the moment, at least, it looks like they’ll be able to move a few blocks to the University Congregational Church of Christ.
While the Mayor has come up with no real solution (one night in the shelter, pushing out someone else who also needs the space does not keep anyone in out of the cold for long), he insists on the one hand that these are terrible, scary people living in the greenbelts, and on the other, that they are all just activists involved in a political protest who have nice, warm beds to go home to.
So, on November 15, there was a packed fundraiser for Nickelsville at Q Cafe. Opening, and playing off and on throughout the evening, was Jeff Greer and his band.
Jeff played a mix of U2 songs, including, It’s a Beautiful Day (as an opener), and One (with a montage of scenes from Nickelsville in the background). and his own originals, including In the Name of Freedom, about the hypocrisy of claiming war is in the name of God, and 1:46, about the child sex trade.
Then we had the Raging Grannies singing a set on housing and homelessness, including the one below, from a summer Nickelsville gig.
I found it a little unsettling to realize the Grannies now have at least one member who’s only a few years older than me. Of course, everyone else would find it a little unsettling if I were to join them. Trust me, you don’t want to hear me sing!
Then some of the Nickelsville residents spoke for themselves.
Next, Tim Harris, editor of Real Change sang a set, some with Revel (above). Not surprisingly, I Like Pink was his biggest hit of the evening.
Then they had a video of Brenden Foster, the little boy who recently died of leukemia and who’s last wish was that the homeless at Nickelsville (and around the country) be fed.
And a child shall lead them.
Katie Costello, a young woman with a beautiful voice, who come and sings at Nickelsville took the stage next. One of the songs she sang was penned after seeing people out with their Hope signs election night, next to a homeless man sleeping nearby.
and how can we talk about hope and change
when we’re just like those fools
just as selfish, just as strange
its our policy to consume and ignore
we drink till we’re too drunk
to hear the cries of the poor
its not men in high towers
its not the powers that be
who decide history
no, its you and me
and we can do it differently
Towards the end of the evening, a poet and resident of Nickelsville, Aaron Stephen Beaucage, came to his stage to recite his poems, which were then performed as lyrics set to music by Jeff Greer and his band.
Here’s a clip, from Nickelsville, of his Cactuses and the Infinite:
All in all, a great evening and successful fundraiser.
It does strike me that all the Mayor is being asked is to let the residents of Nickelsville be, while they create their own community at least giving them a minimal level of shelter, and probably more community than many of us have in this day and age. Mayor Nickels apparently would rather they all live separately in doorways or alleys somewhere (although, heaven forbid, not our green spaces), so that people like young Brenden don’t notice them.
Meanwhile, affordable housing is disappearing for more of us as condos go up and the city talks about “workforce housing” for people who make double what I do. I’m no saint in dealing with the homeless, to be honest, but I know, like many people, I’m just a paycheck away.