Thursday, January 7, 2016


GLASSY:  Yesterday was absolutely stunning weather wise for a winter day. Clear and crisp, a bit of a chill but not cold. A lovely day for a long walk. 

We headed down to Fisherman's Terminal. Evidently nothing's in season, because nearly every slip was full.
I had to think about this boat's name for a bit. If I were to name a Husky themed boat, I think I'd opt for "Spirit of '91" instead of "Spirit of '76," since 1991 was when they won their national championship.

FIRST THURSDAY:  We have fallen into the wonderful habit of attending movie night on the first Thursday of every month at the Living Computer Museum in Sodo (south of downtown).

Tonight's feature was "The Mobile Revolution," a documentary that's hard to find in the States, we were told by the evening's host. 

I'll let CJ and Annabelle tell you a bit more about it, CeeJ up first ... 
"The Mobile Revolution" is a documentary from Sweden about the way mobile phones were conceived and how they changed our daily lives and behavior. The film begins by talking about a place called Green Bank, West Virginia, which did not have cell phone service or even cell phones due to a radio telescope located nearby. If there was wireless service in the area near the radio telescope, the signals could possibly interfere with the telescope's signals being sent and received. Due to this, Green Bank is like a museum of what life was like before the cell phone existed.
When we see the origin of cell phones in the documentary, we see an illustration from a German newspaper over a century ago featuring a man using a telephone out in the open. We learn that there was also a design for a car featuring the ability to call from inside the car (although the machinery required to do so took up most of the back). In 1973, a company called "Nokia" demonstrated their design for the first digital cell phone in public, called "The Boot" due to its size and shape.
Although cell phones have multiple advantages, the movie also pointed out that cell phones have multiple drawbacks. One experiment showed a man flying a drone with a cell phone sensor over a frequently visited park, and he was able to find hundreds of IPs. If he wanted to, he could start spying on them. But instead, he informed multiple people there that he was conducting the experiment, and reminded them to turn off their phone's wi-fi when they are not using their phones to prevent being spied on.
Here is Annabelle's take ... 

“The Mobile Revolution” is a Swedish documentary about the evolution of phones and how they have taken over our lives. The evolution of phones started with phones being put into cars, which was not very convenient because you had to sacrifice a lot of trunk space so you could fit the hardware needed for phones back then. You also had to be inside the car to use it.
So the phone developed into a brick shape, lovingly nicknamed “the shoe” because of its size and shape. It was barely mobile, due to how heavy it was. Fast forward a bit, and Nokia, a Finnish company, has begun to manufacture digital phones. This lead to many competitors, and eventually Apple released the iPhone.
Phones have become increasingly addictive. With additions
like camera and texting, as well as just regular phone calls, we find ourselves glancing at our phones more than ever. Up in mountains in the Seattle area, there is a camp called “Restart” that has one communal telephone (a wall mounted one, not a smartphone) and no other electronics. It turns out we are much more attached to our electronics than we know, and who knows what the future has in store with things like Google Glass.
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: We live in a lovely neighborhood in a beautiful city. But the last couple of years, things have gotten a little, shall we say, rough. Not just in our neighborhood (where property crime is up 59 percent in the last year), but everywhere. If you connect the dots, the spiking stats are, in many cases, traceable right to rolling meth labs, heroin dealers and theft rings run out of "recreational" vehicles illegally parked for weeks on end in the public right of way. This is not a homeless person problem (regular blog readers know we value and work on behalf of our homeless neighbors). This is a criminal problem.

Things have gotten so bad, people are finally banding together and demanding answers. Some citizens got together and organized a community meeting here in Magnolia, our neighborhood, last night. I'd estimate more than 200 people turned out. It was smooshed-standing-room only, television cameras everywhere, and finally some city officials turned out to hear citizens' concerns and ideas about solutions. 

(Video of the meeting (which is probably completely uninteresting to anyone not living in it) is here: )

We were pleased the Seattle City Councilwoman representing our neighborhood, Sally Bagshaw, turned up for the meeting and had a strong and loud voice that sounded sincere about finding solutions. Today, we took a half hour or so to draft a letter for her.
Here's what we came up with ... 
Councilor Bagshaw,
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for attending the community meeting in Magnolia on January 6 regarding Seattle neighborhoods' safety and ways we can work together to make things better for everyone. My family was so encouraged to hear you speak clearly and with conviction about addressing the issues associated with criminal behavior in and around some of the RV dwellers camping in the public right of way.  Your words were a beam of light in what has been a looming storm cloud hanging over the community for too long.
For the past ten years, we have lived on 23rd Ave West in Magnolia, just up from Thorndyke and the BNSF railroad tracks. Over the past two years or so, the Thorndyke/20th Ave. West/Gilman stretch has become a perpetual hot spot for criminal behavior associated with some of the "recreational" vehicles parked for weeks at a time along there. Walking through that thoroughfare (children and dogs in tow) is a gauntlet of dodging discarded hypodermic needles, people openly urinating and using drugs, and navigating an array of waste ranging from stolen mail to human feces. (Sorry to sound gross, but this is the day-to-day reality of our neighborhood here and now. It *is* gross - and dangerous.)
For months we've reported illegally parked vehicles, discarded needles, illegal dumping and more to the city and for months it has been radio silence in "response." And a week before Christmas, in the broad daylight, a man with a big bag was walking down our alley, brazenly going into carports and garages. It certainly wasn't Santa delivering packages. Rather, the very-not-jolly guy was actively committing theft including while my husband was on the phone with 9-1-1.  But as has become the unfortunate norm for our neighborhood, we had zero police response to that call for help. It feels very much like we're on our own, a concern I hear and read echoed over and over and over again from neighbors and on social media platforms.
We are desperate for some response from our city officials, that's why we were heartened by your comments at the forum. And please know, we'd like to know what we can do to help!  I can't say often enough that this is *not* a war on the homeless!  We have welcomed our new neighbors at Tent City in Interbay, and our family has personally delivered a dozen gallons of homemade soup there.  And last December, we chaired a school-wide fund raiser to benefit the Queen Anne Food Bank and Family Shelter. We are law-abiding citizens who love this city and care about and for our neighbors. What we don't care for is the hardcore criminal element that has taken up illegal residence in our city's parks and public right of ways, and whose actions, to date, seem to have gone largely unchecked for reasons we can't fathom. 

Because of the wonderful turnout at the meeting in Magnolia, my children, like the vast majority there, didn't have a chance to speak. In fact, they couldn't even see any of the speakers, as were in the standing-room-only crowd in the back of the room and they couldn't see over all the adults' heads! My kids did, however, spend a couple of hours before the forum making posters to share their thoughts and concerns, and I promised them I would share it with you (photo attached).
Again, thank you for your concern and leadership, and we're looking forward to helping Seattle move in a positive direction on this issue.
I also attached a photo of the kids with posters they took the time to make for last night's meeting. 

We were very pleased to receive a reply from our councilwoman's office within two hours. Here's what they had to say ...

Thank you for writing Councilmember Bagshaw and attending last night’s meeting. My name is Alyson, I am a Legislative Aide for Sally.  

I just wanted to let you know that spurred by last night’s meeting our office have had several meetings today to address the public safety and homelessness concerns in Magnolia. As you heard last night, homelessness and public safety are Sally’s top priorities. We are working with the Mayor’s office, Seattle Public Utility, SPD and Seattle Human Services Department to roll out solutions immediately.  

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or comments. Thank you again for contacting us with your concerns, I will be sure to pass them along to Sally.



Alyson McLean
Legislative Aide
Office of Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw

So, is the problem solved? Nope, not even close. Are we moving in the right direction? Hopefully! Time will tell. ... In any event, it was a good lesson in civics for the kids (and their parents).

1 comment:

  1. Seattle need only look North to Everett for some ideas on dealing with some of these problems. Their new approaches are having results.