CAMPFIRE

Dear Beloved Community:

I want to give you an update on Camp Dearborn. We have not had any success in convincing the Board of Nickelsville to address the very real and substantial grievances of the residents of Camp Dearborn. As a result, the residents have voted to disassociate themselves with Nickelsville and have chosen Patacara Community Services as their new sponsoring nonprofit. We are now in the process of choosing a sponsoring religious organization, finding a new site to move to, and creating a community of volunteers and donors to support the camp.

The camp is running smoothly and safely. The camp continues to self organize security and we are working to bring in case management services and make sure the camp is a free of theft, violence, intoxicants, racism, homophobia, and any other behavior that prevents the residents from focusing their energy and effort on moving from the camp to housing. We are removing the trash, keeping the property clean, and reorganizing the camp kitchen. The Honey Buckets are still being serviced weekly; it would be really great if I could find out who has the contract with them, so I could arrange to take over the service contract if/when whoever is paying for it stops doing so, as it is a vital need of the residents. The staff at LIHI and Nickelsville have declined to respond to my emails concerning this.

We are working with a team of volunteers to find a new site for Camp Dearborn; I have been unable to reach the property owners, but would love to talk with them to negotiate staying on for a few more weeks while we secure a new site. I hope I can talk to city officials about any recommendations they may have for a new site. I hope that everyone who wants to see us succeed can send me leads on sites. Most likely, we will need to move to the property of a religious organization for a few months while we continue our search for a site where we can stay for 12 months. Ideally, we will be able to open a more permanent, city sanctioned site that we can garden on.

There has been an outpouring of support for Camp Dearborn and our vision for keeping it open and legal with new management and values. We are building up a team of volunteers and donors who agree with us that homeless people need immediate access to the basic survival services that legal encampments provide, and that these services need to be delivered with respect, compassion, dignity, and kindness. We believe that by offering an alternative model is both kinder and better organized, we can show Seattle how much can be accomplished with a well run encampment.

We agree that we should be focusing our collective energy on getting everyone who is homeless into housing. However, people are going to need toilets while we are figuring that out. Legal encampments are better than illegal encampments because they are safer and cleaner and more humane, and that makes it easier for people to focus on the next steps they need to take to get housing. Before you start thinking about tomorrow, you need a safe place to sleep tonight.

We want to thank the SPD for not evicting us and giving us a chance to find a new site to move to in a peaceful and organized fashion that does not disrupt the safety and services that the camp residents are currently receiving.

 

Best wishes,

 

Polly Trout

Executive Director

Patacara Community Services

206-465-6342

polly@patacara.org