Different Flavor, Same Label

Posted: May 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

by Ibrahim Mubarak

Early Sunday morning, we traveled to Seattle to help a houseless village of tents move from one site that they were kicked out of to a new site.  On the ride up to Seattle, co-founder of Tent City 4 and Nickelsville’s Leo Rhodes was very informative to Eliese, a reporter from StreetRoots and I, a co-founder of Portland’s own houseless village (Dignity Village), and Right 2 Survive, a houseless advocacy organization.  As we shop and compared on the things we went through to get each organization established, I noticed that none of Seattle’s tent cities, as they are called, are on permanent sites – different than Dignity Village.  However, we are still houseless people and still treated as nothings in society’s eyesights, which creates social segregation between the haves and have nots.

On arriving in Seattle, it was a beautiful, sunny day.  While looking for Nickelsvilles location so we can take footage of them moving from one location to another, we found out they had moved the day before.  When we finally met up with the villagers we listened to why the move was sooner than later.  Nickelsville was camping in an abandoned firehouse.  The city offered them a new site in 3 months but reneged on that promise and kicked them out.  The committee from Nickelsville had agreed to meet with the city council on Friday to let them know where they were to move next, but instead they reneged and moved to their 1st site.  Ingenious I say.  However, one thing, as supporters and different tent cities, we were just as shocked as the city officials.  Ha!  Here laughing at you!  There were people talking, children playing, pets wagging their tails, and an atmosphere of happiness.  So, we went to visit Tent City 4 and it was a more solemn environment, a whole page of rules they had to follow.  I feel like they couldn’t be themselves and they even belittle Nickelsville – as in “Oh those people…”, as if they were a higher up class of houseless people.  Hum?!  So, my question – Is there classism in the houseless community?  Don’t we know that we are the same?  Come on y’all, let’s get it together.  That’s what the powers that be want.  You know, divide and conquer.  We are one!!!!

This commentary was written after a May 14th, 2011 visit to support our fellow campers in Seattle.  Below is a recent update from Nickelsville.

May 25th, 2011

Greetings from Nickelsville to our friends and neighbors.

We are at our new location at 7116 W Marginal Way SW and are starting
to work on our new structures.
Since our last email alert, we have received exciting news: the
Mayor’s office has said that they will not seek our eviction. This
gives us more security than ever before to build our homes at a
permanent site.

We are still without power and water but we are making do with our
generator and the help of our generous neighbors.

We are also continuing to grow, our camp population is now at 135 and
more people show up daily.

The City Council discussions about ‘unsheltered people in Seattle’ is
a slow process but we are making progress.

Any further assistance from our friends is appreciated: our needs are
as follow:

– Food
– Water
– Gasoline (for generator)
– Building supplies for Small Simple Sturdy Sleeping Structures:
concrete blocks (for base), 3/8″ side grade plywood, 5/8″ TIG
plywood, 1/2″ plywood, 88 5/8 studs
– Fire extinguishers
– Fire wood
– Blankets
– Batteries
– Trash bags
– Hygiene supplies and toilet paper
– Clothing and shoes

We are at 2nd Ave SW and W Marginal Way SW (the first site in 2008)
please feel free to come by and visit.
We thank you for your continued support and friendship.


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