Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Elusive Tent City

Last Saturday Tent City moved from Haller Lake United Methodist to Riverton Park United Methodist.

Can't imagine a bigger and more disruptive move -- from 130 N, almost Shoreline, to Tukwila in the south. If you were hoping to get into some sort of routine with your life, a big move like that can't help. But it beats the streets, I guess.



Saturday, September 22, 2007

Community Service Saturday

Unsupervised nineteen-year-olds exit
Chattering happily
Going out into the world
To pick up trash; what fun!
Ere they return
I shall fling out more dross
Though this thin truth
Takes up no space in their capacious bags.
Their brains too, flaccidly empty, fluttering
Await the first lecture
First love, first broken heart,
First drama, first drunken stupor.
Soon enough they will return
With bags full,
Older, perhaps wiser.

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Friday, September 21, 2007


OK, you define fun how? Taking knit hats to appreciative and friendly Tent City 3 residents? Visiting a bar and having a time talking to a Marine Corps vet?

He says the funniest line of the night "I'm low speed, high torque." Had to be there I guess.

Sally K. from Temple Beth Am came for a "ride-along." She skipped our last stop (she's entitled, she says. . .) -- a new bar "The Boxcar" -- since we're not going there I don't have to scramble the name I guess. It was too fun, too young, too loud for our usual Nightwatch-type crowd. Karioke night. If you were tanked, it was probably great music.

We were out looking for refugees from one of our bars that closed down. Guess we'll have to continue the search next week.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Seattle City Council Candidates

A few hours listening to blather is about all I could take this morning. Thank God there were muffins and Tim Harris from Real Change to distract.

The occasion was the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness Candidate's Forum held at Opportunity Place.

Jean Godden would make a wonderful grandmother. She says she understands and empathizes with homeless people because her family lived in a tent when she was a preschooler -- her father was in the army; Spanish American war? She didn't say.

Her opponent, Joe Szwaja did not show. Too bad, I think the room would have liked him. He's endorsed by the Green Party, and was their candidate for Congress in the 7th Congressional District, running against Jim McDermott (or as we know him locally, Representative For Life McDermott. We love him, really). Oddly, Jean Godden's campaign literature shows her standing in a rain-forest, and touts her environmental stands. for more on Joe.

Judy Fenton, running against Sally Clark, confessed she didn't know anything, but she had children working with a Shoreline area homeless ministry. Tim Harris from Real Change told me privately he would be perfectly comfortable having Judy babysit his children. I imagine her needing help remembering the appropriate phone number for emergencies. "9 - 1 - what was that?"

Tom Rasmussen made a great impression, but of course, he's running unopposed. Apparently when you're unopposed you can be direct, forthright, well-informed. Or maybe it's the other way around. Being direct, forthright, well-informed leads to being unopposed?

Bruce Harrell made a very good impression; he's a Garfield graduate (go Bulldogs), had some decent and thoughtful answers. He's running for the spot vacated by Peter Steinbrueck.

His opponent is Venus Velasquez, the only candidate with school age children in Seattle Public Schools. She also spoke very well, though without the polish of trial lawyer Harrell. Either candidate would do the job.

David Della is opposed by Tim Burgess. It is noteworthy that I couldn't remember Tim's name after leaving the meeting. If you're going to talk through your hat, you must do so with authority.

OK, enough about politics. I feel icky now. R

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


You know that part of the paper that runs corrections? It's the City of Seattle that is proposing to tear down 66 dwelling units at Discovery Park, not the Parks Department. My bad. Rick

Monday, September 17, 2007

More stupid moves

So, now Seattle Parks wants to tear down 66 dwelling units because they sit in the middle of a park. Never mind that we've used the park undisturbed by those 66 home-dwellers when it was a military base for maybe 30 years.
Meanwhile try to find a place to rent in the city. We have a 2% vacancy rate, or something like that.
Between the Port of Seattle, City of Burien, and now the Seattle Parks Department we will have wrecked more housing than we built under the grand "10 year plan" for ending homelessness.
Meanwhile I got my property tax assessment for next year. Something like a 30% increase in my assessment, but the value of the house is nominal according to the county; it's the land that's really worth something. I'm still scratching my head about that. Seems like the deck is stacked in favor of density, which I approve of in principle. But when I get to Geezerdom (not that far away, you know) I'm going to worry that I'll have to sell off because I won't be able to afford the luxury of living in Seattle's Central District. And then some whippersnapper will tear down the house, extrude another crummy condo four-plex, and ruin the raspberries. Yuk.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Three Women

Homeless family -- Mother, two adult children, one of them pregnant, all females. They arrived in Seattle a few months ago, no place to go. Imagine being able to only offer them a mat on the floor and a scratchy wool blanket.

Welcome to my world.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Kiss Kiss

Oh yeah, 3rd and Bell. The drunk pool player kissed my hand, kissed Father Kim's hand, and thanked us for dropping by.

Is that a problem? Hmmm.

Why a duck?

Best story of the night.
Father Kim saw a homeless woman out and about, carrying a duck.
She's raised this duck from a nestling. She insisted the duck was brilliant. It was indeed walking with her, like one might walk a well trained dog.
The duck walked to the edge of the sidewalk.
"CURB! CURB!" the woman screamed. The duck ignored her, and continued on, into the street.
"Really, this duck is so smart."
But all Father Kim could think: "It's a bird-brain."

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

On Families

Operation Nightwatch wants to help homeless families.

Here's the dilemma: We already are at capacity for single men & single women. Our numbers for the summer have been off the chart in terms of nightly average.

It isn't safe to plunk a family with children down in the midst of these single adults.

Operation Nightwatch was a dumping ground for other bigger and better funded social service agencies who simply wanted a voucher for a family they were working with; one night the social worker started to drive away in a new van having dropped off a mom who didn't speak English and her five kids. They were all neatly dressed, had no luggage. We were expected to stop serving the 150 homeless men and women to get this family onto a city bus across town to a hotel which takes our voucher, when the only adult doesn't speak English, while the social worker drives home in the shiny new van, thinking "another job well done."

Bitter? yah.

Anyway, for the safety of the kids we decided it didn't make any sense to do what we were doing. Sorry if that impacts you.

Meanwhile, we are interested in developing a strategy for families with children that makes sense. What's your idea? A single night in an isolated motel makes no sense at all.


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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blogger dog

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