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Posts published in “Day: July 16, 2009”

Tent City mobility

tent city

Tent City

Probably not many cities are really eager to bring in something like Tent City. But they have to be somewhere, and after a decision today by the Washington Supreme Court in Woodinville v. Northshore United Church of Christ, they have fewer ways to block them. Not none, but fewer.

Tent City 4 is a development of two Seattle homeless advocacy groups, SHARE and WHEEL (we'll pass on the long run-out of the acronyms). It has put together tent city places for homeless people: "portable, self-managed communities of up to 100 homeless men and women." It describes them:

SHARE/WHEEL's Tent Cities are democratically organized. They operate with a strict Code of Conduct which requires sobriety, nonviolence, cooperation and participation. Security workers are on duty 24 hours a day. Litter patrols are done on a daily basis.

Tent Cities provide their own trash removal and port-a-potties. Bus tickets are provided to each participant each day so s/he can get to work or appointments. There is a food preparation area. Volunteers bring hot meals most evenings to both Tent Cities.

Tent Cities are needed because there is not enough indoor shelter for all who need it in King County. Tent Cities provide a safe place to leave your belongings, flexible hours for workers, and the ability for couples to stay together.

Tent City 4 was set up for the east side of King County, and has moved around from place to place, about once every three months. It depends, as the Supreme Court decision said, on property owners willing to donate the space for that time. In 2006 SHARE/WHEEL asked Northshore United Church of Christ if it would donate the space, and the church agreed. At which point the city of Woodinville, from which it needed a temporary use permit, responded that because it had in place a land use moratorium - to put a hold on development - the church was denied the permit. The church protested; the Court of Appeals upheld the city; the church appealed, in part, on freedom of religion grounds.

The Supreme Court agreed with the church. A slice of its reasoning here is wel worth the read: (more…)

The Chappelle revolution

Dave Chappelle at Pioneer Square

Yesterday, a remarkable thing happened. The comedian Dave Chappelle came to Portland, and told (by his estimate) four people he planned to show up at the downtown Pioneer Square sometime past midnight, and give a quick performance. He figured word might spread a bit, and that maybe a couple of hundred people might show up. Early in the afternoon, he fought some sound equipment to accommodate the event.

The owner of the store where he obtained the equipment promptly logged onto Twitter, and tweeted about Chapelle's plans. Word shot around the Portland Twittersphere, and when Chappelle showed up about 1 a.m., not 200 but thousands - estimated around five to six thousand - were there to greet him. And he delivered a short show, or tried to given the technical limitations.

The remarkable thing, of course, was not Chappelle's unusual appearance (he has a history of unpredictability) but the fact that a web of individual communications - not any form of mass media - resulted in the crowd. The story of his appearance turned up everywhere from the banner lead in the Oregonian to Huffington Post.

After the fact.

You get the sense that a page is turning.