Solid Ground declines ‘O Brother’ benefit

Solid Ground has chosen to decline accepting funds raised during the Fremont Outdoor Cinema showing of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” on Saturday, July 21. While the film has received artistic acclaim for its recreation of a specific aspect of American history and culture, it contains many negative depictions of people of color and stereotypes that perpetuate racism and are damaging and insulting. We are grateful for the ongoing support of our committed partners, the CoHo Group of Windermere Agents and the Fremont Outdoor Cinema, and look forward to working with them to find a more suitable venue to serve as a benefit for Solid Ground.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 36,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Strategic Planning Update

Editor’s Note: The following update on Solid Ground’s ongoing Strategic Planning Process is from Solid Ground’s Strategic Planning Committee.

Real Time Strategic Planning, used with permission of La Piana Consulting

Dear Solid Ground Community,

We want to provide an update on our Strategic Planning process and why this work is critical to the agency and our community! The Strategic Planning Committee is made up of representatives from each department within Solid Ground, as well as members of our Board and Advisory Council. This Committee intentionally brings together multiple stakeholders at all levels to create a strong plan for this organization, one that balances our aspirations but also deals with our current realities in understanding how we can actualize those dreams. Modeled in alignment to our Anti-Racism Initiative Action Teams, we meet on a monthly basis to work towards developing shared priorities for Solid Ground and strategies to meet those priorities. We operate on a decision-making model (Fist of Five) which allows for critical dialogue to assist us in working towards collective goals.

We acknowledge the challenges facing our agency today that dramatically affect consumers of our services at every level. We also face the internal struggles we all know so well. But as Ron Chisom and Dr. Kimberly Richards of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond reminded us recently, it’s times like these when we can bring hope into changing this organization for the better!

One of our first actions in the Committee was to bring Staff, Board and Advisory Council members together at an All Staff community event on May 23. We generated ideas on what the new mission, vision and values should be for Solid Ground and then gathered feedback on the drafted mission, vision and values. We tried our best to incorporate the hundreds of voices we heard from throughout the five-month process. You can find our new mission, vision and values here.

In the past three months, the Committee also gathered information directly from constituents and key stakeholders around Washington State through listening sessions, focus groups and interviews. This, along with data collected from our staff, funders and partner organizations, will be put into a final report to help guide the Strategic Planning Committee through our October retreat. At this retreat we will develop several tools based on the La Piana Real-Time Strategic Planning model to clarify our future business model and create a Strategy Screen for decision-making in the organization. We will also develop a Big Question that Solid Ground faces right now. This Big Question will be used by the Committee to create targeted strategies and a plan to address this question organizationally and programmatically in the coming year.

At this turning point in the life of Solid Ground, the Strategic Planning Committee has extended our timeline by one month. We hope to use this time to tap into the best of all of us to figure out how we can serve our community needs with respect and human dignity at our core. We need your input, engagement and questions. We believe it is a critical piece in living up to our new mission, vision and values.

The Strategic Planning Committee’s retreat will be held Monday October 24. If you have feedback or questions, feel free to contact Ariana Cantu at or 206.694.6860.

Ruth Massinga named Solid Ground’s Interim Executive Director

Former Casey Family Programs CEO to lead Seattle anti-poverty
organization through leadership transition period

Ruth Massinga

Today, the Board of Directors of Solid Ground named Ruth W. Massinga, the former President and CEO of Casey Family Programs and former Board Chair of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, as Interim Executive Director.

Massinga has an extensive track record both as a leader and an advocate for helping families, youth and children reach their full potential. She currently co-chairs the Board of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit The Finance Project and serves as a Board member of Philanthropy Northwest. She also serves on national advisory boards and committees addressing education and early childhood development.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ruth to our team,” said Board Chair Lauren McGowan. “She is a distinguished leader who will help Solid Ground increase our capacity to respond to community needs and help people overcome poverty.”

Long-time Executive Director Cheryl Cobbs Murphy left the agency last month.

“Cheryl had a notable career with Solid Ground and guided us through some significant service expansions. Under her leadership we developed permanent affordable housing at Magnuson Park and many other new programs. We are grateful to her for her 26 years of service,” said McGowan.

“With this transition, Solid Ground begins a new chapter of service to the community,” said Frank Chopp, Solid Ground’s Senior Advisor and former Executive Director, who guided Solid Ground’s previous incarnation as Fremont Public Association for more than 20 years.

“Ruth has exceptional organizational skills developed through her leadership in nonprofits and governmental agencies. She will be instrumental in helping develop the leadership needed to continue Solid Ground’s legacy of building a strong community.”

“Ruth has a stellar track record as an advocate for helping families, youth and children achieve their dreams,” said Tony Lee, Solid Ground’s Advocacy Director. “Her vision and guidance will support our work to make Washington State a great place to live for all people, regardless of their economic status.”

What makes the world a better place?

We asked guests at our recent Building Community Luncheon to write down an answer to these questions: What do you do to make the world a better place? What would you like to do? Here are some of their responses:

“Expect acceptance and give acceptance. We are all equal.”

“Dismantle capitalism; build a democratic pacifist socialism.”

“In my teaching I try to bring consciousness of LGBT issues, poverty and racism.”

“Teaching our children to be open, accepting and sharing … and to end childhood hunger. My goal is to work with agencies like Solid Ground and to do little things in my personal life (to) meet these goals.”

“I ask “HOW, WHY and WHEN?” I read the label on the can before I buy. Then I recycle the can when I am done.”

“Eliminate dental disease! Protect the oral health of children and seniors.”

“My chosen mission is reminding elected officials of the importance of ending homelessness, according to the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. At the five-year point, cuts in budgets and foreclosures are causing more homelessness, so we are refining the plan and recommitting to our goal of a roof over every head.”

“I work with Solid Ground but I also volunteer at Washington CASH to help people in poverty to start their own businesses. Learning to see my connection with all human beings.”

“I donate money to good causes, campaign for political candidates, plant trees, don’t use chemicals on my lawn, plan Earth Day celebrations and serve on the Municipal League’s Candidate Evaluation Committee.”

So, dear reader, what do YOU do to make the world a better place? What would YOU like to do? Please answer in the comments…

Goose bumps and our annual Luncheon

Moving in to Brettler Family Place!

I hope you saw the recent B-1 feature in the Seattle Times about Brettler Family Place, entitled Families’ new lives a sign homeless isn’t hopeless. Everyone who has been to Magnuson Park to see Brettler Family Place gets goose bumps just looking at the beautiful development and realizing what a life-changing opportunity it is for the 51 formerly homeless families who are moving in this month. As a community, we can all take pride in coming together to end homelessness for these folks.

On Friday, May 6, we’ll gather at the 11th Annual Solid Ground Building Community Luncheon to celebrate efforts like this and focus on the work ahead. We want you to be there to share in the powerful stories of our programs’ success.

In fact, please consider hosting a table of 10 and inviting your friends, family and colleagues to join you. There is no ticket price, but we’ll ask you to donate $150. The Luncheon is 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. To sign up for the Luncheon, contact Megan Locatelli at or 206.694.6862.

Our keynote speaker is Dan Savage, an outspoken and sometimes controversial speaker who at times challenges even things we hold dear! Dan will inspire us with a talk about his It Gets Better Project, which provides support and guidance to LGBT youth who have been bullied – in fact to anyone seeking a relief from isolation and oppression. Table Captains will be invited to attend an exclusive Q&A with Dan following the event.

For more information on the event, go to our website.

Operators are standing by; contact Megan Locatelli at or 206.694.6862!

Here is one sample video from the It Gets Better project. Just try watching this without being moved!

A fond farewell, a fitting tribute

Talking up the campaign for Brettler Family Place

Today Solid Ground bids a fond farewell to Zanne Garland, our Individual Giving Manager. Zanne has pretty much revolutionized our fundraising approach and our ability to engage individuals, companies and groups in our work. She has more than doubled our Annual Campaign Revenues and helped raise the funds to build Brettler Family Place at Sand Point, which will provide permanent housing for 51 families starting later this Spring.

Those of you who have had the chance to get to know her will agree that Zanne is both a blast to spend time with and a rising star whose brilliance has graced our community for the four years she has been with us. She’ll have a positive impact wherever she goes; for the next few months, that will be traveling the world with her husband, Jackson.

In honor of Zanne’s great work at Solid Ground and in our community, Solid Ground has created the Zanne Garland Fund to support the completion of the Sand Point Housing Capital Campaign. Please consider honoring and carrying forth Zanne’s leadership and service with a gift to this fund. Click here for our Sand Point Capital Campaign donation page, and if you choose to make a gift to the Zanne Garland Fund, please specify that your gift is in honor of Zanne.


Brettler Family Place will open in a few weeks, providing permanent housing for 51 families!


Online client feedback survey

“As an agency that works for social and racial equity within the community, we consistently ask ourselves, ‘Are we walking our talk?’ And if so, what do our clients say this equity looks like to them?” asks Ariana Cantu, Solid Ground’s Administrative Information Coordinator.

Client feedback survey

“Where are we succeeding and where can we improve? And how will we know we are fulfilling our mission, embodying those values of ending poverty, prejudice and neglect unless we ask those who are using our services – ‘How are we doing?’ However, to date, we have not collected client feedback in a consistent manner across our diverse programs, nor have we attempted to analyze the information received on an agency-wide basis.

“Thanks in large part to the contributions of our Anti-Racism Committee, Client Advisory Committee, and direct service staff, we have developed a new Client Feedback Survey which will be available on the Solid Ground website and will be distributed by our direct service programs. We encourage all clients to use the survey to give us their feedback on our work. This is one way Solid Ground can have a consistent feedback mechanism for all Solid Ground clients and learn directly from our clients where we are succeeding and where we can grow,” says Ariana

Here is a direct link to the survey.

OR: Go to our home page.

Look in the right navigation sidebar under the “Tell Us What You Think” header.

Click on the “Client Feedback Questionnaire” link!

Sometimes you just have to laugh

If there is any humor in the morass that has become our entire system of mortgage lending, it might be in the ironic strategic default by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Check out The Daily Show’s crack reporting (with apologies for not figuring out how to embed a full viewer, but click on this and you’ll get there…)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mortgage Bankers Association Strategic Default
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

Vandalism and theft at Marra Farm

Peace Scarecrow

This post is reprinted from the Lettuce Link. blog:

Not Cool: We have some shocking and disappointing news from the farm this week. This past Friday, July 15th, volunteers and staff arrived at the farm to a disconcerting scene. Someone had broken into each shed looking for valuable tools to take. Not only hand tools, but the much-needed (and expensive to replace) lawnmower and weed whacker had disappeared in the night. In addition, the P-Patch shed had been opened and all its contents overturned, although it appears that nothing went missing. Neighbors chased away some teens throwing the unripe apples at farm structures Thursday night, but the two occurrences seem to be unrelated.

Even more frightening, while inspecting the shed, our Marra Farm Giving Garden Coordinator Sue McGann found what looked like (and was confirmed to be) bullet holes in the walls of the P-Patch shed. The police officer who arrived at the scene believes that the holes were made by someone using the shed as target practice. The police wish to assure everyone in the community that they are still safe in the area. Even so, all of these events are a disappointing show of disrespect towards the farm property and the people who work on and benefit from the farm’s operations.

Upon hearing this news, Julie Simon, a long-time volunteer scheduled to work at the farm the next day with a group of friends, first made a detour.  Her detour was a shopping trip and out of her own pocket, she replaced the lawn mower and weed-whacker.  It was heartening to arrive and see the shiny new items. More than replacing stuff it was her thoughtful act of kindness that was totally unexpected and really lifted our spirits.  It is a reminder that we do this work TOGETHER and that it is only through caring for one another that we can truly nourish our community.

Marra Farm Giving Garden is a project of Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program. For more info about Marra Farm, contact Sue McGann at 206.694.6746 x1 or For info about Lettuce Link, contact Michelle Bates-Benetua at 206.694.6754 or

Broadview moms say “Thanks!”

Cool: The 32 women (including one grandmother) at Solid Ground’s Broadview Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing program had a wonderful Mother’s Day this year due to the generosity of community members who “adopted” moms and purchased gifts for them.

Many of the women said that they have never had a Mother’s Day as good as this one, and all were thrilled with their gifts.

Thank you to…

Ann Rinehart & Gina Young, Bridget, Trevor & Jackson, Franz Bakery, The Iritani/Wong Family, Janet & Dennis F., Jeannie Ianelli, Jeff Rueckhaus, Jenny & Mark Hannibal, Julia Reese, Junior League of Seattle, Kelly Knickerbocker, The Lord Family, Lorrie & Colleagues, Megan Evert, Nancy & William Hanneman, Pamela Vines, Richelle Dickerson, Seattle Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumni Association Board & Members, Sheri B., Stokes Lawrence, P.S., and Susannah B.

You brought huge smiles and much joy to the women at Broadview this Mother’s Day!

Solid Ground helped more than 58,000 in 2009 to overcome poverty

Solid Ground has just released its 2009 statistical snapshot of the folks we serve and our impact in helping them overcome homelessness, hunger and other attributes of poverty. You can see the document here:

Who Solid Ground Served 2009

For those who are familiar with this report from past years, you’ll note a drastic increase in the number of people served (about 20,000 more than last year!). This is due to a number of factors: expanded programming to respond to increased community need during the Great Recession, more accurate data collection and, most significantly, a large expansion in the number of Access routes our Seattle Personal Transit program handles via its contract with Metro.

The report also gives some snapshot information about the racial and language diversity represented by the people who come to Solid Ground.

Former clients give valuable feedback

A big part of Solid Ground’s work is grounded on building upon the strengths of the people who come to us for services. Everyone has personal assets that contribute to their own journey back to solid ground. And everyone has something to offer that can help make us a better, more responsive organization.

We started an Advisory Council of former clients to learn from their wisdom and experience, to make us a more culturally competent organization, and to provide an avenue for folks to claim their own leadership. Following is a brief video account about one of the members, Juanita, and why she joined the Advisory Council.

For more information, visit our Advisory Council: Join Us! webpage, or email Ariana Cantu, Solid Ground’s Administrative Information Coordinator.

Solid Ground transitions Fremont Fair to Fremont Chamber

It is my pleasure to announce that Solid Ground will transfer ownership of the much-loved Fremont Fair to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, effective immediately. For 38 years, the Fremont Fair has been one of Seattle’s best-loved street fairs, and Solid Ground and the Chamber are dedicated to ensuring this tradition continues for many years to come, while Solid Ground still benefits from a portion of funds raised through the event. The 2010 Fair will take place June 19-20, 2010.

Fremont Fair bannerThe event originated in 1974 as a fundraiser and neighborhood celebration produced by Solid Ground (then known as the Fremont Public Association). For years, the Fair was an integral part of our efforts to fight poverty in that local community.  Since then, we have experienced widespread growth and are now a leading regional force working against poverty, providing advocacy and support throughout the state. Based on this, the organization concluded the Fair would be better supported to return to its roots and be managed by a local Fremont entity focused on the Fremont community.

Fremont Fair crowd shotWe did not make this decision lightly – Solid Ground has produced this event for several decades as a way to involve folks in building a better community, while also directly giving back to the neighborhood. The event has been very near and dear to us, but, given our growth and other fundraising endeavors,  it no longer made sense that this event remain under Solid Ground’s umbrella. We are very excited the Fremont Chamber has agreed to take over all ownership and management of the event moving forward, and we could not have left it in better hands. Continue reading

Is Metro throwing folks off the bus?

Not Cool: Check out Real Change News coverage of the drastic impact Metro fare increases are having on elderly and folks who live with disabilities. Fares for those folks DOUBLED on January 1! Real Change’s Adam Hyla interviewed Solid Ground’s Patricia Ann and staff from our Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) which reimburses seniors for using Metro to get to volunteer placements.

More than ornamental decorations

Cool: Our friends at The Production Network created this awesome interactive Holiday Greeting app to benefit Solid Ground.

The Production Network created this cool app to raise funds for Solid Ground.

screen shot of TPN Holiday Greetings app

Check it out. You decorate an ornament, hang it on their virtual tree and help support anti-poverty programs and advocacy in King County!  Now if they could just figure out a way to deliver hot cocoa thru the app…

See what you have done!

Thanks to all the amazing folks who have donated to Solid Ground during our year-end giving campaign!

Despite the challenges of our nation’s ongoing economic woes, Solid Ground raised more money in 2009 than ever before. I think that is because in tough times people identify more closely with the needs of folks who are struggling to survive.  More of us know people who have faced mortgage default, hunger and even homelessness. And so, people have prioritized giving to services that meet the basic needs of people in crisis.

With your help we’ve kept thousands of folks who were facing dislocation in their homes. We’ve also helped thousands more get the long-term support and resources they need to thrive.

This video tells three short stories that represent the more than 35,000 people who came to Solid Ground this year. Thanks for being there to support them.

Hello world!

Welcome to Solid Ground Blog. If you stumble upon this while we are getting everything set up, thanks for visiting. Please bookmark the site and come back in while. 

We are setting this place up as a venue for talking about issues related to poverty, living on a low income, social services, advocacy, and other aspects of being poor and trying to address poverty.

We hope you’ll come back to learn more about Solid Ground, to express your concerns and interests, and to figure out, together, how we can create a just and caring community here in Seattle-King County.

%d bloggers like this: