An Extra Day to #GiveBig & #EndDemand

So, apparently the generosity of Seattle (and other cities also using the same system to donate BIG today) has created technical difficulties so big we have another day to donate to our favorite charities and have our donations met.

From Seattle FoundationsGive Big Website:

Our web site is experiencing BIG volume today! Donation pages may be slow to load. We appreciate your patience as you wait to GiveBIG! Please refresh your browser. Given this delay, Seattle Foundation is extending GiveBIG through midnight tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4.

While I managed to make my donation to the Organization for Prostitution Survivors this morning (which did take a long time to go through), it gives me extra time to mention this great opportunity. First, there are a lot of great organizations you can donate to and be matched on May 3 (and now May 4), and I encourage you to check out the list at https://givebig.seattlefoundation.org/. As you know from this blog, however, #EndDemand and the issue of helping women and girls (and men and boys in some cases) escape prostitution has been on my mind a lot lately.

Seattle, fortunately, has been getting the issue right, and the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS) has been at the forefront in helping women exit (including support groups, art therapy and most recently a jobs program in conjunction with Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking – BEST), getting local law enforcement and prosecutors to embrace the Nordic Model (offering those prostituted services and creating a “Buyer Beware” program where the men buying attend a 10 week Stopping Sexual Exploitation program OPS created. According to a recent e-mail, after completing the program”95% of men said that they do not think they will buy sex again.”

What convicted sex buyers had to say after completing Stopping Sexual Exploitation

“Keep this program going to educate the community & spread the word.”

“It is just as much our fault as the pimp who forces her on the street.”

“I learned about how prostitution isn’t really a choice and that even if I did treat her nice it won’t stop the pain that she might receive from others.”

“The arrest stopped me. I would have never bought sex again, but the program taught me why I should never buy sex again.”

“I’m going to raise my son differently. I don’t want him to be so angry and depressed all the time like me.”

Definitely a lot of good work being done, and a lot that remains to be done that would be helped by more funds. I encourage you to check them out and #GiveBIG, by midnight May 4, now:
Oh, and the amounts already given aren’t showing, not for OPS or most of the other organizations at this point thanks to the computer problem (which really wouldn’t be an issue if everyone really had given $0 to all these organizations). Will be interesting to see how generous Seattle is once they get that straightened out!

New Year’s Day Walk

It was a sunny New Year’s Day in Seattle, so I got inspired to go out and take some pictures, something I haven’t done in awhile. Initially I was thinking of heading over to UW, but I got to thinking of finding the 52nd St. (NE) stairs I had read about in Jake & Cathy Jaramillo‘s book Seattle Stairway Walks I had gotten out from the library awhile back. I was well familiar with the Ravenna Park part of that walk, but have kept meaning to find the 52nd St. stairs which I knew must be just a block from my normal walk to University Village.

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Actually a series of stairs, from 20th Ave NE to 21st, 21st to 22nd, and 22nd to Ravenna (where there’s a P-Patch, a little lonely in the frost this time of year).

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Back up the stairs to 2oth Ave. . .

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I decided to head over to the 20th Ave NE Bridge over Ravenna Park, and found a Little Free Library on Ravenna & 20th on the way there.

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The 20th Ave Bridge has long been closed to traffic. . .

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. . . and you can view the Ravenna Park trails below. . .

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I ended up at Third Place Books, where I browsed and had a cup of coffee and a cookie.

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I am planning on getting my own copy of Seattle Stairway Walks and exploring other stairways in Seattle. I’ve always loved exploring stairways when I visit San Francisco, but really have neglected the ones here at home.

In addition to the book, Jake & Cathy Jaramillo also have a website, Seattle Stairway Walks. There is also a walking advocacy group, Feet First, which advocates for more walkable neighborhoods, has more maps and information, including walking groups. There’s also a similar site for folks in Bellevue, called Walk On in Bell WA.

Happy New Year!

 

Dusty 45s Therapy and the Limits of Instagram

Some things don’t change! So, I took a break from some weighty human rights issues I’ve become concerned with last Friday night to catch The Dusty 45s in Ballard. Well, some things changed – a new upright bass player (at least new from the last time I blogged) and the weekend’s shows were in at Conor Byrnes, not The Tractor Tavern across the street. Which gave me an excuse for an Irish Coffee (minus the cream these days), which was very tasty.

So, I went Friday night, because it’s easier with my work schedule, and I wasn’t sure I was up for the insanity of a Halloween night on a Saturday. Opening that night were The Dee Dees, an all woman Ramones cover band. They were good, and loud (and my Instagram doesn’t do them justice).

The Dee Dees – all woman Ramones tribute band opening for The Dusty 45s at Conor Byrnes

A post shared by Colleen Roman (@java_colleen) on

Yeah, I’m going to have to bring my real camera if I want to start posting photos and video from shows. One of several things cell phone cameras aren’t so good at, though there’s a lot to be said for the immediacy of things they do take decent pictures and video of.

Luckily, someone did take video their next night’s show, where the skeleton crew played one of my favorite Halloween themed songs by them (which I heard on Friday night as well.

I did get an Instagram of the obligatory flaming trumpet finale!

Trumpet in flames! The Dusty 45s finale

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Of course they came back to play a few more, including a cover of Folsom Prison (where they shot a man in Kirkland, just to watch him die).

And back out into the street to catch my bus as I had to be at work the next morning. It had been just a little chilly when I left. I pulled up my hood and got to put my new fall jacket to the test (which it fortunately passed). Yes, what’s a Dusty 45s concert in Ballard in the fall, without rain for atmosphere!

Thanks to Instagram, I get to share that this time:

I've seen fire, I've seen rain…

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The Dusty 45s – Neither snow nor rain. . .

While I’m still deciding which of two awesome and ridiculously low priced New Years Eve shows I’m going to, there’s one group I absolutely need to see one more time before the end of the year. Yes, that’s right, playing both Friday and Saturday night at The Tractor Tavern .  . . The Dusty 45s!

The Dusty 45s at The Tractor
The Dusty 45s at The Tractor Tavern

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night. . .,” The US Postal Creed (or at least the inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City), comes to mind after their January snow day show at The Little Red Hen waaay earlier this year.

Snowman at Green Lake
Snowman at Green Lake

Seattle was having a dastardly snow day on January 19.  Yes, a Seattle snow day, and we had sooo much snow. . .I think maybe 2 or even 3 . . .inches. . .  (OK, there was ice and a lot more snow in outlying areas).

The Little Red Hen
The Little Red Hen

School was canceled at SCCC, including my evening IT class in conflict with The Dusty 45s show at The Little Red Hen. Snap! Shows were also being canceled. The Governor had declared a state of emergency. The Mayor was warning people to “to get home before dark if possible”. . .  The Little Red Hen was open when I took a walk over to Green Lake earlier (photos above), but The Dusty 45s drummer is from Olympia (which did have 14 inches of snow and ice) and their upright bass player lives in Bellingham and the freeway was a mess.

Would The Little Red Hen stay open? Would The Dusty 45s make it? Would people show up?

Yes, yes and yes! The Little Red Hen was open and poured me a strong Irish coffee (minus the whip cream these days for health reasons, alas!). The Dusty 45s not only showed, they played a second full set after their flaming trumpet finale and a short break. Yes, I love this band! Crowd was there and dancing, as you can see in the video above.

The rest of Seattle was evidently peaceful, with all those canceled shows. . .

So one more time this year. Wouldn’t be the holidays without The Dusty 45s playing The Tractor sometime in November or December!

Hard Times Need Old School Soul

I’ve been going through some hard times of my own lately and really was in need of some old school soul when I went to see Charles Bradley at Neumos  at a sold out show Thursday night.

Charles Bradley at Bumpershoot
Charles Bradley at Bumbershoot

I first saw Charles Bradley at Bumbershoot in 2011 and he was so good the crowd did not want to let him leave the stage.  He has all James Brown’s moves (and that’s how he got his start as an impersonator) and his own songs about hard times, and about love.

Just like at Bumbershoot, he opened with Heartaches and Pain, pouring his heart out on stage.  I was thinking that’s an incredible one to open on (almost like Pearl Jam opening on Alive), but it occurred to me that’s the point – it’s a tribute to his late brother.

What’s a night of soul music without a little romance, though?

How about an on stage proposal? During Lovin’ You, Baby?

What do you think. . .is Charles Bradley a good wing man or what?

I really hope he was able to marry them. I think they may have conceived their first child at the show the way they were going at it! Saw them making out some more near the front of the stage while the Menahan Street Band was playing a couple of their own songs while Charles went back stage for a costume change.  What threads! And what a band! They opened for him and just released their own album, The Crossing.

Here they are with Charles at South by Southwest, via. . .Seattle’s KEXP? Guess music has it’s own geography. . .

He ended on Why Is It So Hard (to make it in America. . .something I’ve been wondering about a lot lately, and not just for me).

After this plea for brotherly (& sisterly) love, he waded into the crowd and started hugging people. the crowd parted after everyone got their hugs in, until he reached a young man smiling in a wheel chair. They hugged and talked for a couple minutes, then he continued to hug his way out of the crowd. Guess that’s one way to handle it when people don’t want you to leave!

SCCC & Occupy Seattle – Missed Opportunities

I attended the Seattle Community College Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday that evicted (or, rather is trying to evict), Occupy Seattle from our school and was very disappointed in my college. I was at least glad they weren’t sending in the police with pepper spray to tear down their tents and send them off in the freezing rain the day before Thanksgiving as I feared, and would be given time to leave. I am also glad Occupy Seattle sued to prevent the eviction and a Judge has delayed their eviction at least until they can argue their case in court next Friday.

Lights Out

To add to the surrealness, the lights were out when I first got to the meeting due to a downed line somewhere that was also responsible for no traffic lights at the intersection of Broadway & Pine and lunch in darkness at Taco del Mar. Our main campus, fortunately, was not affected. I was also “greeted” by an overly aggressive security guard, wanting to know why I was there, which did not set me off on the right foot. It was a public meeting and I’m a student at SCCC (which, come to think of it, he should know that as I actually do recognize him after nearly a year of going to school here).

Board Hears from Dr. Killpatrick

Sadly, SCCC President Dr. Killpatrick and the school administration have seemed hostile to Occupy Seattle ever since they moved up from Westlake in October. Which seems very ironic to me, as the issues the Occupy Wall Street and our local chapter bring forward are very relevant to our discussion at school a day earlier on lobbying Olympia next week to try to prevent another 13% budget cut of SCCC’s budget (after very serious cutbacks this year).

SCCC VP Dr. Brown & President Dr. Killpatrick - Budget Discussion

It’s a shame no real attempt was made for a dialogue between SCCC and Occupy Seattle, or rather, it’s  a shame the attempts by at least one of the teachers, Karen Strickland, weren’t listened to.

Karen Strickland on Budget Panel

That we even have the meager offer of Governor Gregoire to put a measure on the ballot of a half percent sales tax to restore some of the draconian state budget cuts has a lot to do with the Occupy movement. It’s also a situation that, even as the early panelists at that meeting who put it forward as our main hope acknowledged, isn’t enough and is a regressive tax. If we have any real hope of change and our legislators being bolder, it will be due to actions by Occupy Seattle and the unions (as well as letters, calls, e-mails, etc from the rest of us; and lobbying by SCCC and others). There’s money there, if we start insisting all these big companies getting out of paying their taxes start paying. There is no reason we should be cutting funding for kids, the elderly, health care and schools instead of having wealthy corporations pay their share.

Seattle Community College Board of Trustees

Sadly, the board had really already made up their mind, and were looking for an opportunity to evict Occupy Seattle, which came from a sensationalized account of an attempted sexual assault on our local Fox affiliate, Q13, that was played at the hearing. I don’t want to make light of the assault, nor the concerns of the young woman student who testified, nor say that Occupy doesn’t have to come up with a better security plan. It’s just that this was what the board was looking for, to prove their painting of the demonstrators as dirty and dangerous was correct (along with health department reports, which the camp is trying to comply with).

That some of the real homeless have joined the camp and become members of the Occupy Seattle community is one of the issues.  I actually think they should be commended for that and agree with the post of the Antifa working group of Decolonize/Occupy Seattle (which I believe is short for Anti-fascist) that in general the homeless belong. Nothing highlights the disparity of our society more, and why this happened probably has a lot to do with 15 shelters closing and throwing out about 300 people into the cold in October as the Occupy Seattle was getting going at Westlake. Thankfully the shelters reopened a couple of weeks later, though I imagine some of them came to Occupy Seattle and stayed. I doubt the homeless who are causing problems were from the shelters though.

The Antifa working group’s post does come with the realization that they can’t handle people too seriously messed up with drugs, no matter how nice they are when they’re not using. I think there has been a learning curve and one thought is for them to talk to people at Nickelsville and other tent cities who must have come up with some kind of plan early on, both for the safety of themselves and the surrounding community, and because they are under constant scrutiny from people who see the very fact that they’re homeless as a threat. Where possible, they could try to hook people with mental illness and drug problems with people who can help, and DESC comes to mind. It’s just that, unfortunately, the whole safety net has been seriously slashed. Very much part of the issues that the Occupy movement has taken on. I just don’t think they’re in a position to deal with those with the most serious issues along with changing and challenging the economic order that creates the situation.

Lost in all of this, for the most part, has been the opportunity for real communication between my fellow classmates and the members of Occupy Seattle. SCCC a school with a mission to educate all, and draws from a diverse student body, probably more from working class or poor backgrounds than most 4 year colleges.  Immigrants, students who many have struggled through high school, returning students like me on worker retraining or VA benefits. In short, the 99%, with even more of a common cause with the Occupy Wall Street movement than schools like US Berkeley, UC Davis and Harvard that are actively protesting on Occupy issues, if they understood.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much of a dialogue, and between administration warnings, news reports, and a few actual bad encounters, many of my classmates are either hostile or fearful of Occupy Seattle.

An Occupy Seattle Circle of Protection

Blessed are the peace makers! I am totally in awe of Reverend Rich Lang and the scene I witnessed yesterday at the Occupy Seattle press conference calling for police accountability following Tuesday night’s pepper spraying of Reverend Lang, 84-year-old Dorli Rainey, a young pregnant woman who had to go to the hospital and many others. Following his testimony, and after we heard from Dorli and the young woman, Reverend Lang asked us all to form a circle of protection around the police officers. He proceeded to talk with the officers, and a captain responded, about seeing each other as human beings, not using excessive force and the problems militarization of the police have caused, and how the issues we’re protesting with Occupy Seattle affect them and their families as well.

Reverend Rich Lang Talks With the Police

The stories we heard first were serious and reports were made to the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability and no doubt lawsuits will be filed. This kind of police abuse has to change and coming together and seeing each other as human is one step in the right direction. Police training, policy and accountability have to change as well, though. Sadly, this is all seeming too familiar, thinking back to WTO and the protests of that era and a series of police shootings in the African-American community around the same time.

Dorli Rainey

Dorli Rainey spoke first, and it was awesome to be part of her mic check. Dorli is an inspiration, taking her assault by pepper spray with a sense of humor, and using it to bring forward the issues.  It’s still very disturbing that members of the police department pepper sprayed an 84-year-old woman directly, which is a new low (as was a police spokesperson afterwards saying pepper spray is okay for all ages).

Young Pregnant Woman Who Was Pepper Sprayed

We had a lot of media coverage for Dorli; but most of them were gone before we heard from the young woman, Reverend Lang and others.  The young woman’s story was even more disturbing. In addition to being pepper sprayed, she was pushed by an officer with a bike and punched in the stomach. All after telling them she was pregnant, and, when she confronted one of the officers when she saw him later, he said she deserved it. Even more disturbing, now that I think about it, this is not new. We had several incidents of officers getting really abusive of young women protesters in the demonstrations immediately following WTO.  Not much has been said in the mainstream media about what happened to her case.

Reverend Rich Lang

Reverend Lang spoke briefly to the crowd about his pepper spraying before suggesting we form a protective circle around the officers and starting a dialogue with him. Six officers sprayed him directly in the face Tuesday night, in spite of his clerical garments. Reverend Lang talked to the officers about how much we have in common with them. He spoke about how they were there to protect us and the militarization of the police was the wrong path. He talked about the way society is heading with the increasing gap between the rich and the rest of us. That the police are affected by the same issues and his concern for the younger generation, which is feeling the brunt of this; and that it affects the officers’ children as well. He talked about seeing those of us in the Occupy movement as individuals and that we are not the enemy. You could tell that the officers and Occupy Seattle people alike were really moved by what the Reverend said.

Police Captain

The police captain spoke next and acknowledged our commonalities and asked us to view them as individuals and not brand them all on the actions of a few. A fair point, and I am glad Reverend Lang created a space for us to see each other as people. Which isn’t to say the issues of police accountability and policy don’t still need to be addressed.

Young Man Who Was Pepper Sprayed

Then a young man spoke who had talked earlier about having been pepper sprayed at Tuesday’s demonstration and one earlier that he had filed a report on. He wanted to know if he had been targeted for reporting the previous incident. He found this particularly upsetting because he had been “raised by the cops,” in his words. It turned out he knew many of the Seattle Police officers from years of participating in the Special Olympics and volunteering for their events. That human to human connection evidently lost for the moment Tuesday night and in the other incident.

Woman Clergy Member Pepper Sprayed

Then a woman who described herself as the “other clergy member” pepper sprayed Tuesday night spoke about the need for redemption. She talked accountability and a change in the way police are viewing groups of people, not only the members of Occupy Seattle (particularly the ones camping out), but driving while black and also treatment of those homeless or drunk. One important accountability issue she asked for was that records of correspondence and the orders given to the police in handling the Occupy movement be made public. I’m wondering not only about SPD, but orders from further away, as it has already came out that Homeland Security is involved in coordinating raids on Occupy encampments nationwide. The use of pepper spray against peaceful demonstrators is an ongoing theme. Is it just bad policing in so many cities and campuses, or are orders coming from further up?

Buddhist Peace Fellowship Member

A member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship led us in a round of Keep Your Eyes on the Prize to close out the press conference. I saw many conversations starting between demonstrators and officers.  It turned out one of the officers was in the awkward position of having the same last name as one of the officers accused of punching the pregnant woman in the stomach and pepper spraying her. This was not entirely coincidental, as the two officers were related, perhaps a reminder not to judge people on the actions of their family members as well, and he hugged the woman.

It was an incredible moment to have witnessed and I think there needs to be more dialogues of peace like this opened up nationwide.