Call for submissions for Footsteps 步: A poetry anthology honoring homeless veterans

Footsteps: Poems for Homeless Veterans (due out on Cave Moon Press, 2016)

Footsteps: Poems for Homeless Veterans (due out on Cave Moon Press, 2016)

Since 2006, Cave Moon Press (CMP) – a family-owned publishing company out of Yakima, WA – has been “bridging global and local issues through the arts.” Solid Ground has been fortunate to partner with CMP over the past four years.

Editor Doug Johnson says, “The model of CMP is simple: We ask poets and artists to collaborate with the cause of their choice. Poets. Books. Community. Why such a simple model? Because complicated erases our humanity. There are so many causes it is easy to lose track of the people we are helping.”

Call for submissions for Footsteps

To celebrate 10 years of helping communities, Cave Moon Press will produce a new book to aid homeless veterans in 2016 and is requesting original poems centered around the theme of footsteps. They encourage poets to take license in interpreting whose footsteps you honor, and translations are welcome. To apply:

  • Submit poetry anytime between April to September 2015
  • Send to: cavemoonpress@gmail.com
  • Subject line of email: Footsteps for Homeless Veterans-Poet Name
  • Include your name, physical address and email as a cover letter
  • Submit 2-5 poems in one MS Word document, and name the file with your name and the date you submit (ex: FirstLastName_041515)
  • Preferred fonts: 12 pt Garamond in Latin alphabetic languages; SimSun preferred in Asian Kanji

More about the Footsteps project

Doug writes, “This is a book of witness to the invisible. As a poet holds their duty to the page, soldiers hold their duty to serve. Others hold their duty to the environment. Cars wage war on the environment. Politics change like the newspaper wrapping fish. We all know of someone setting out on their quest without ever getting the homecoming of Odysseus. When duties disillusion, people wander. The invisible still wander. Write to honor the ignored. Write a poem. Help a friend.”

This book intends to honor people, not causes. After publication it is hoped that each accepted poet will combine readings around food and music with proceeds going to the local homeless network of their choice – e.g., your local VA, YMCA/YWCA, or nonprofits with programs that serve formerly homeless vets (such as Solid Ground’s Santos Place, etc.).

Cave Moon Press & Solid Ground

In 2011, CMP published Denise Calvetti Michaels’ Rustling Wrens, and she chose to donate a portion of sales proceeds to Solid Ground and also spread the word about Solid Ground during her readings. Similarly, when poet Esther Altshul Helfgott published Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems in 2013 and Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s in 2014, she designated proceeds toward Solid Ground’s Penny Harvest youth philanthropy program (which her granddaughter participated in before the program sunsetted in summer of 2014).

As Doug puts it, “Poets write. Poets read. So far poets have found a home at Solid Ground, and CMP is grateful and happy to bring awareness to their great work.” He adds that, “CMP has been able to help other groups around the country. Each nonprofit and poet set up what works in their community. They know their needs. They have passions for their people.” With the publication of Footsteps 步 in 2016, CMP will continue their commitment to creating poetry and art partnerships that support social change.

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Walsh Construction: Building communities with Solid Ground for two decades

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Walsh Construction not only understands the needs of the people and organizations they serve, but also anticipates and facilitates meeting those needs with professional expertise. For over 22 years, Walsh has supported Solid Ground’s work in a variety of meaningful ways.

Workplace giving

Giving back to the community is an integral part of Walsh Construction’s culture and values. As a company and as individuals, they contribute time, talent and finances to numerous nonprofits throughout the year and believe it’s the right thing to do.

Walsh Construction’s connection with Solid Ground began through the generosity of their own employees. From 1992 to 2001, Walsh employees contributed individual donations, despite the fact that there was no formal infrastructure for workplace giving. For the following several years, the United Way of King County’s workplace giving campaign coordinated the business’ donations. Then in 2005, Walsh began their own campaign to formally support all employee payroll contributions, a practice they continue to this day.

Every year through their employee Community Giving program, they name several community agencies and nonprofit groups – including Solid Ground – as beneficiaries. Walsh matches every dollar each employee contributes, and for several years they have reached 100% staff participation. Walsh employees clearly share the company’s values of generosity and care for the Seattle community.

Housing development

In 1998, Solid Ground (then the Fremont Public Association) hired Walsh to build our current headquarters offices in Wallingford. Then through an open bidding process in 2012, we selected Walsh to develop additional housing on our Sand Point Housing campus. From late 2013 through November of 2014, they served as general contractor for two buildings of non-time-limited housing at Sand Point. Today, Sand Point’s residential facilities total 175 units, 100 for families and 75 for singles. Of those, Walsh built 54 new residences and renovated an additional 42 units.

Throughout the process, Humberto Alvarez, Solid Ground’s Planning, Development & Operations Director, was primary contact between stakeholders, and he also oversaw Walsh’s two-phase renovation of the Santos Place transitional housing facility. Humberto says that Santos Place was occupied during the extensive restoration period, and that Walsh representatives were exceptionally respectful to the building owners and inhabitants as they conducted their detail-oriented work.

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Two buildings at Sand Point were located in a Seattle Landmarks Board Historic District inside Magnuson Park, which was a Navy base before becoming a park. The buildings, while new construction, had to blend in with the historic neighborhood and meet the standards of the Landmarks Preservation Board to complement the original military housing style.

Walsh’s excellent work maintained the historic look of the buildings and strengthened the integrity of the structures as well. Throughout each step of the process, contractors, developers and architects met in weekly meetings to cover every detail of the project from beginning to end. By making the infrastructure more energy efficient, money saved on utility expenses could be put instead toward providing services for residents in need.

Both new buildings at Sand Point Housing were completed ahead of schedule in early December 2013 – enabling some residents to move in before Christmas! It was especially rewarding for everyone involved to give people transitioning out of homelessness a safe, warm, dry place to live in time for the holidays that year.

Event sponsorship

Walsh has also supported Solid Ground through various annual and special events over the years, including our Building Community Luncheon, which Walsh has sponsored every year since 2011.

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Recently, Walsh added a personal touch to their support of Sand Point Housing residents through gifts for the children. They donated intricate wooden toys for kids to play with at the communal children’s areas in Santos Place and the Lowry Community Building. The delightful trinkets are made of durable materials that will be enjoyed by many youngsters for a long time to come.

Over the last two decades, Walsh has been a consistent, outstanding and professional supporter, and we look forward to many more years of partnership in the future!

Building Community Luncheon was ‘bleeping awesome!’

On Friday April 10, Solid Ground had our most profitable Building Community Luncheon ever: We grossed $290,000 – as much revenue as last year, but with 500 fewer people in the room – and our net income was MUCH higher! We think it’s because people really resonated with our theme, If you want to end poverty, work for JUSTICE!, highlighted here in the Luncheon video:

Justice is, of course, both political and personal. As our President & CEO, Gordon McHenry, Jr. told the assembled:

Today, we are here because we are concerned about justice. I remember being concerned about justice as a young boy. It was in the mid-’60s when I was 6 or 7 years old, walking with my family in the small, segregated town of Terrell, Texas, where my mother was born and raised. It was an uneventful stroll until my parents stepped into the street, because there were some white people coming toward us. Even then blacks in the south yielded the sidewalk to whites.

“A few months ago, I was reminded that some troubling aspects of our society haven’t changed in 50 years. It was after Ferguson, and this time I was walking in the streets of Capitol Hill as part of a small but loud protest march. When we approached the East Precinct, our Seattle police surrounded us with a show of force far vastly outnumbering the protesters.

“Mistrust, Anger, Fear, Misunderstanding, and Conflict. We can all recall such powerful feelings. They are the feelings and experiences that come when you realize you are trapped by injustice. Sadly, it’s a near universal experience for people of color in our country.

“And YET there is the transformational experience of being part of powerful actions and mass movements for justice. The thrill of chanting and believing that our very presence will make a difference.

“What do we want? JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!

“Whether you marched for an end to the Iraq wars, rallied to demand
$15 Now, joined hands around an old growth tree, OR packed council chambers with angry residents in wheelchairs (something Solid Ground did in the early 80s to help secure the future of ACCESS transportation), most of us have had that experience. You know that feeling of coming together as MORE than a group of people, but as a FORCE for right, a FORCE for justice.”

Kathya Alexander, the Seattle Storyteller, who worked with us on 40th Anniversary activities last year, contributed and performed a riveting story about the civil rights movement. You can read some of her stories on her Seattle Storyteller website.

Grammy Award winning "Thrift Shop" vocalist Wanz singing "I Will"

Wanz wows attendees at Solid Ground’s Building Community Luncheon

And when keynote speaker Jessica Williams of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had to cancel due to ill health, local Grammy Award-winning singer and Solid Ground supporter Wanz stepped in at the last minute as our surprise guest star. As Gordon mentioned in introducing him, “Talk about making lemonade out of lemons: ‘This is bleeping awesome!’ ” (a reference to Wanz’ signature riff on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit track, Thrift Shop).

Wanz’ inspirational song I Will was a great addition to the program, focusing on the importance of community, especially in troubling times. We encourage you to follow Wanz on social media:

If you were at the event: Thank you for making it such a special occasion! If you missed out but would like to make a gift to make the event even more successful, please go to our online donation page. Thanks!!

PREMIER SPONSORS:

The Boeing Company | DCG ONE | HomeStreet Bank | Microsoft | Safeco Insurance

COMMUNITY BUILDER SPONSORS:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Marguerite Casey Foundation | Real Change | REI | Seattle Children’s | Sprague Israel Giles, Inc. | Washington Dental Service Foundation | Whole Foods Market

Community Conversations: #thinkpoverty + #talkpoverty = #endpoverty

Photo courtesy of smarnad

Photo courtesy of smarnad

Join the dialogue! This year, Solid Ground began sparking
Community Conversations to inspire civic engagement and action toward ending poverty. By instigating conversations and spreading awareness among our community members, we hope some great ideas will emerge to help us reduce economic inequalities. And via social media, you can read, share, and exchange stories about the causes of poverty and ways to end it today!

Our hope is that by engaging people like you in discussing strategies to reduce poverty, our community will be mobilized to address some of the things that perpetuate poverty – such as racism, lack of affordable housing, regressive tax structures, lack of resources for people living with mental health issues, and a credit system that penalizes the poor – and brainstorm solutions to the problem.

An excellent resource to help you start thinking and talking about poverty issues is “From Poverty to Prosperity” by the Center for American Progress Task Force on Poverty. This article offers a national strategy for cutting poverty in half, and actions that can be taken immediately.

We want to hear from you! Help us start the conversation by sharing your ideas and thoughts on ending poverty. Join the ongoing Facebook and Twitter discussions with the @SolidGroundWA network; new topics are posed every Tuesday!

Start today! Share your personal stories. Learn from others’ experiences. Create an ongoing dialogue. Grow more aware. Find ways to take action. We hope that the conversation continues to show just how much the collective passion for ending poverty is alive in our community!

#thinkpoverty + #talkpoverty = #endpoverty

Skool Haze: Part 2

Image by twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just how does a white teacher communicate identity and belonging to a black child or teen? Is their legitimate concern enough? Are a set of classroom guidelines and good intent enough to fill in the chasm of “who am I in relation to what you are?” Is the fact that they’re there enough? If a child doesn’t understand the power and pain of their skin color, how will a white teacher assist with this? How can a white teacher provide a young black male with the tools to survive when that teacher has no concept of the child’s reality and/or destiny?

See where I’m going with these questions? White people can’t teach identity to black people regardless of what their intent is. Nope, can’t be done. So it isn’t a question of is harm being done to our kids, it’s more a question of how do we mitigate the damage? What do those white eyes see when they look at our black children? Are they peering across the great divide of privilege and looking at blacks like they think they will never amount to anything?

I can say from the truth of my own life that white teachers give up on black kids, and they do it routinely. Sometimes it’s because they are unable to recognize intellect in any other population other than their own, and sometimes it’s because they can’t comprehend the import of being entrusted with black children. They look at their students and quietly categorize them and then funnel them to whatever they believe their potential to be. Simply because one chooses to teach or feels they have the aptitude doesn’t mean they have the skill to work with populations other than their own.

Mr. Hagen was a good white teacher, for good white kids. But for his black students, he was sorely lacking in empathy and understanding. These traits can only be cultivated in a teacher who is intellectually curious and courageous enough to step outside of their whiteness to see the true challenges of all of their students. It’s clear there will never be enough black teachers, but there is no end to bad white teachers. This is a sad and inexcusable deficit, and the response to this should be in keeping with the need. The fact is white teachers have a hard time understanding their kids of color, and this is a lack of knowledge and experience we can’t afford. These teachers should be exposed to as many aspects of the student’s life as possible.

I’ve met many people who were well-meaning, but who were singularly unqualified to do the jobs that were gifted to them through privilege. Teachers, social workers, doctors, lawyers and politicians – all horrendously bad at their jobs but are well protected by their skin color – ensconced in a strata of unearned benefits. This is the sad mirage of social good: People get so caught up in helping, they forget that working with these populations takes training and the willingness to be introspective. To teach and to help, one must be absolutely ready to learn.

Immersing young black kids in a white cultural experience they will never have full access to is an unavoidable and abusive act. It sets these kids up to think they will never be good enough because they aren’t white. America’s prisons are filled with men who thought that they weren’t good enough either. They were systematically taught to live up to no expectations.

But in the end, you know what scares me more than white teachers? White social workers who work in tandem with them and who collectively think that the key to balancing a social ill is a program or a guilt-laden vocabulary that will have no effect on anyone who doesn’t innately care anyway. The unconscious analyses of whites scare me, because privilege is so easy to forget if it’s the sea you swim in.

There’s nothing more dangerous than people who think they know what they’re doing simply because they care.

Girls Giving Back work renovation magic at Broadview

header_logoRecently Girls Giving Back (GGB) – a nonprofit that brings youth and adults together to make a difference in Western Washington transitional housing shelters – completed the last of 31 room renovations at Solid Ground’s Broadview Shelter & Transitional Housing residences for women and children. Since October of 2011, over 150 volunteers have collaborated to complete this ongoing project!

The crew started their construction revamps by building and installing closet systems into each of the units. These were constructed in a Georgetown woodshop by a team of volunteers and led by woodshop owner, John Kirschenbaum.

GGB then equipped every room with interior details including: furniture, bedding, kitchen supplies, bathroom items, and a desk filled with school and art materials. They ️filled bookcases with novels and board games, and placed a fresh stuffed animal on each bed. The GGB volunteers also stocked the cupboards with perishable and nonperishable food, and hung art created by local youth and adults on every wall.

By adding all the little things that make a place feel like home, these units now have the cozy comfort of a thoughtfully furnished and decorated living space. Since most of Broadview’s residents are women and children coping with the trauma of displacement and domestic abuse, the pleasant environment of these renovated rooms offers them a peaceful space to develop strong community support systems.

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Teresa Valley started Girls Giving Back in 2009 with the mission of bringing friends together to do community outreach for social services in need of urgent help. In an effort to create an uplifting environment that fosters hope, GGB focuses on helping local shelters maintain their facilities and provide the basic necessities for the people that they serve. Along with a loyal group of ever-growing volunteers, GGB does everything possible to help improve the lives of those who need it most by donating time, energy and resources to this important work.

Their mission statement says it all:

Girls Giving Back inspires hope and brings comfort and stability to individuals and families in need by improving living conditions in Puget Sound transitional shelters.

GGB has served the local shelter community since the spring of 2009. We provide extensive updates to transitional shelters including: installing new carpet, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, closet additions and performing minor repairs. Along with these services, GGB replaces used mattresses, furnishes the units with gently used donated items, and accessorizes the units (including artwork created by local-area youth) to create a warm and inviting space for the temporary residents in these buildings.

Through GGB’s efforts, individuals seeking shelter are able to experience more than just a roof over their heads. More specifically, by living in this positive environment, they are inspired with hope and encouragement as they move forward with their lives.

Thank you, Girls Giving Back, for sharing these gifts with our Broadview families!

Transportation Levy to Move Seattle: The City wants to hear from you!

Transportation is critical to the health and well-being of our community. The City of Seattle would like to hear the public’s feedback on the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle proposal and is encouraging community members to learn more and get involved in a number of ways.

Some background: In March 2015, Mayor Ed Murray introduced a proposal for a nine-year, $900 million levy to replace the existing Bridging the Gap levy that expires at the end of 2015. The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle proposal focuses on taking care of the basics, maintaining our streets, bridges and sidewalks, while also investing in the future with improvements that give us more transportation choices to move more people and goods in and around our growing city.

Prior to finalizing the proposal, the City is encouraging the public to provide input and be a part of shaping Seattle’s transportation future. There are a few ways to get involved:

1) Saturday, March 28, 10am – 12pm (presentation at 10:30am)
New Holly Gathering Hall (7054 32nd Ave S)

2) Monday, March 30, 6 – 8pm (presentation at 6:30pm)
Roosevelt High School (1410 NE 66th St)

3) Tuesday, March 31, 6 – 8pm (presentation at 6:30pm)
West Seattle High School (3000 California Ave SW)

Transportation Levy to Move Seattle - Community Conversations flyer

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