Thursday, May 17, 2012

Seattle's Nickelsville

I recently visited "Nickelsville" while in Seattle and received quite a warm welcome.   This organized tent city is completely self run.  The camp has relocated to around a dozen sites only to return to its original location where the group has finally found some stability.  While it is not formally recognized by the city, Mayor McGinn has said he will not seek eviction of this refuge in the middle of the city's industrial district.

An existing resident helps a newcomer secure dry shelter (center) while another resident completes a security check.  All are expected to attend weekly meetings and a certain number of credits are required where each resident contributes back to the village.
Residents improve conditions of living in a tent by using two layers of pallet boards to lift it off the ground and covering it with an outer tarp shell.
Child playing amongst the tents. 
And pet cats too!
Port-o-pots near the entrance that are regularly serviced - a primary cost for the camp.
Food stored in a carport and managed by the "food master."  There are several masters throughout the camp, each responsible for a different role.

Seeds begin to sprout in the raised garden bed.
A workshop space for transitioning from camp to village!
Defining a path system to minimize mud during the rainy season.
A gathering area with an open fire, huts being constructed in the background.
Skilled builders hold hands on workshops at the camp; those who participate in the construction get there name put in a hat to receive the shelter.  Other methods of participation are available for those not physically able.

Oh, and pet goats too!

Too the surprise of many, there are a handful of children at Nickelsville.  This child's mother told me that she felt safe here and that while she was trying to find a better situation, her daughter actually preferred it to the small apartment they were evicted from.  She said that there were other individuals at the camp that took it upon themselves to make sure they are comfortable and that others to not jeopardize their safety.  Having children around makes others take living at camp a lot more seriously.

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