Seattle, the city with the dubious distinction of the nation’s third largest population of homeless people, plans to fight that fire of a crisis with gasoline, allotting more than $1.1 million — not toward services, shelters, and programs to help people find shelter — but to erect miles of razor-topped fencing to block underpasses, highway access, and other areas commonly used as transitory encampments.
“It’s a statewide issue,” Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) spokesman, Travis Phelps, told the Seattle Times of sizable camps which often return as soon as police perform one of the highly contentious ‘sweeps’ — wherein police force campers out and throw away all their belongings — purported to be for public safety. “We’re going to be collaborating with cities and other jurisdictions, to make sure that folks who are experiencing homelessness and other issues are not camping underneath highways and other spots, and putting themselves at risk.”
Two RV fires and two deaths in an area loosely termed ‘the Jungle’ in Sodo — located under a highway overpass — led WSDOT to allocate almost two miles of fencing for its Spokane Street Viaduct in the name of safety for the campers, as well as for travelers on the interstate above. Broad sections of fence have already been assembled around particularly troubled areas.
In reading the description of this ‘fence,’ questions of human rights and authoritarianism are haunting
“Fencing crews have cordoned off nearly all the space below,” the Times continues, discussing the area, “from the Duwamish River to First Avenue South. The extra-strength fence stands 10-foot-4, with small mesh that’s hard for climbers to grab. A supplemental shipment of thin blades was discreetly cinched along the top, resembling common bird spikes that repel crows and gulls.
“City staff say they’re averting the sort of incident that occurred in Atlanta, where a span of Interstate 85 collapsed in a March fire.”
Road repair equipment went up in flames in that incident, allegedly after spreading from a fire built for warmth by an unhoused man camping under the interstate — but activists, attorneys, and advocates peg responsibility for the damaged highway on failings of the government, not a single individual. Like the Seattle fires and deaths, the Atlanta collapse ripped off the scab on the city’s homeless issue — bitterly dividing residents on blame, cause, and solution for these problems.
Seattle’s homelessness debacle pits vitriolic business owners and residents against a ballooning population of people lacking shelter and various rights’ advocates wishing to apply more than a bandage to the problem, who have grown weary of the State’s penchant for brute force and disregard for the law in its tactics.
Thanks in part to soaring rent and real estate prices brought about by lack of housing space as the city continues experiencing a moderate economic boom, finding shelter for the houseless without the creation of new facilities has become nearly impossible.
In fact, the housing, homeless, and shelter crises — inextricable issues in a growing number of U.S. cities — have provided civil rights attorneys and advocates grounds to contend the clearing of camps violates campers’ protections from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Thus, they say — without sufficient shelter space or affordable housing — unhoused individuals should have the right to camp in public.
In other words, they’re fighting an unseemly battle to make homelessness a right.
It isn’t for Seattle’s lack of attempts to solve its homeless emergency, declared two years ago — this year, alone, taxpayers and private donors will ultimately fork over $196 million “for shelters, permanent housing and other services,” the Times reports.
Further, critics argue, choosing to fence off vast tracts of space prone to group campsites encourages people without permanent shelter to simply migrate to another area — forcing the problem elsewhere without solving anything.
With at least 11,600 people counted as houseless recently in Seattle’s King County — up from last year’s 10,730 — no matter the physical result of erecting dangerous fences to sweep the homeless crisis under the rug, the damage in PR will undoubtedly blemish the city’s once-welcoming, charitable reputation.
GeekWire, however, cites a higher statistic from real estate company, Zillow, in an article fleshing out housing data to prove the scope of the emergency:
“Zillow estimates Seattle’s homeless population totals 12,763 people, well behind New York (76,341) and Los Angeles (61,398),” writes Nat Levy. “The only other city with a homeless population over 10,000 people, according to Zillow estimates, is San Diego.”
This isn’t to say those in favor of fencing and camp sweeps lack compassion or do not care about unhoused people; but, the crisis has reached unsustainable proportions — and tempers and patience are wearing thin.
Daniel Malone, executive director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center, laments the tepid results of finding homes for the houseless — the city claims it was able to find space for 46 people — following the latest sweep of Seattle, telling the Times,
“There definitely wasn’t enough shelter for the number of people moved.”
Malone, who remains optimistic, echoed advocates from Seattle and other cities enduring housing crunches and skyrocketing populations of homeless people, asserting plainly,
“You wouldn’t need all the fences, the hygiene centers and the rest areas if everybody had a place to live.”
Image: Igor Zvencom/Shutterstock.
UK Queen’s Statues Torn Down Amid Anger Over Mass Graves for Indigenous Children
This year may have had one of the most muted Canada Day celebrations, but this didn’t stop Indigenous protesters from making their anger felt – especially in the wake of the discovery of over 1,000 children’s bodies near the residential schools run by the Canadian state and church authorities.
And with churches being likely targeted by arsonists for the crimes of Catholic clergy, protesters are now attacking the symbols of Anglo colonialism – namely, statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.
About 150,000 First Nations children were forcibly separated from their families and communities and forced to attend the religious schools which were established in the 19th century to assimilate Indigenous children into the Anglo settler-colonial culture of Canada.
Former students have testified to the horrific sexual, mental and physical abuse they suffered while enrolled at the schools. Myriad children died from preventable diseases, as well as in accidents and fires. Others disappeared when trying to escape. The Commission has denounced the schools for institutionalizing child neglect and for being organs of “cultural genocide.”
The discoveries have churned up deep-seated anguish and memories of the suffering visited upon First Nations peoples, with many lashing out at the symbols of colonialism.
At least seven churches, all but one of which were Catholic, have also come under apparent arson attacks throughout Canada in recent weeks.
In June, a statue of the late Pope John Paul II at a Catholic church in Edmonton was splattered with red paint and red handprints.
On Thursday, July 1, residents in Canada also held organized protests and pulled down the statues of the top figurehead of British colonialism: Queen Elizabeth II, as well as that of her great grandmother, Queen Victoria. Sky News reports that the toppling of the statues was accompanied by the chant, “No Pride in Genocide!”
In Ottawa, protestors gathered en masse at Parliament Hill chanting ”Cancel Canada Day” and ”shame on Canada,” urging an end to the national holiday over the deaths of Indigenous people.
Indigenous groups and Canadian politicians are demanding an apology from the Catholic Church – specifically Pope Francis. The event could take place by year’s end, according to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
However, it remains unlikely that the British crown will offer the same amends to Canada’s Indigenous nations who, like many across the globe, suffered greatly in British Colonialism’s worldwide search for riches and glory.
3 Reasons Why Introverts Are Undervalued in Today’s Society
It’s undeniable that our society favors assertive extroverted personalities with strong communication skills and underestimates the quiet ones. If you are an introvert, you have probably learned it the hard way.
It could be that you felt unseen in the classroom as a child or teen. Or you may have watched your less competent co-workers get a promotion thanks to their social skills.
It feels unfair, but if you think about our society, it makes perfect sense. The consumerist mindset that has become our second nature inevitably affects the way we treat other people. It seems that everything, including our personal qualities and worth as human beings, is translated into some kind of market value.
In other words, to make other people see your worth in personal or professional life, you need to be able to ‘sell yourself’. Yes, this expression alone tells it all.
You need to know how to make a good first impression, say the right things, and be assertive. If you can’t do it, you are perceived as incapable and uninteresting – whether we are talking about a job interview or an informal social gathering.
But it’s not the only reason why introverts are undervalued in our society. Here are a few more:
1. They are less efficient in teamwork
Communication and teamwork skills are required for all kinds of jobs. It seems that without being able to work in a team, it’s impossible to do your job even if your duties don’t involve interaction with clients.
Introverts are much more efficient when they work on their own and are given a certain extent of independence. They thrive in quiet environments with few distractions and interactions. This is when a quiet person gets the chance to unleash their creative self and make good use of their analytical skills.
Most office jobs don’t give employees this opportunity. Office meetings, group projects, phone calls and all the other attributes of a 9-to-5 job make it almost impossible for an introvert to be productive.
2. They don’t like to be in the spotlight
Sometimes it feels like we are living in a society of attention seekers. Today, you are expected to go public about the most personal matters, such as your relationship and family life.
People share their most intimate thoughts and feelings on social media, post updates about the most trivial events, such as what they had for dinner, and upload countless selfies.
Introverts are among those who still value privacy. They are less likely to showcase their lives online or share the details of their personal affairs with the whole world.
At the same time, the quiet ones don’t like to be in the spotlight at social events. An introvert will never interrupt you. They will listen to you and talk only when they have something important to say. This tendency to avoid attention can be mistaken for insecurity and even a lack of intelligence.
3. They prefer to be real than to be ‘nice’
If you want to make a good impression on others, you are expected to be nice. But what does it mean to be ‘nice’ anyway?
In an introvert’s mind, it equals saying things you don’t mean. Quiet personalities will never bombard you with compliments or say meaningless social pleasantries just to win your fondness. But if an introvert said something nice to you, then be sure that they truly meant it.
Small talk is another component of social relationships most introverts struggle with. To them, it embodies utterly dull, uncomfortable, and pointless conversations they can perfectly do without. For this reason, introverts are often mistakenly believed to hate people.
The truth is that they don’t – they just crave stimulating, meaningful conversations and choose their social circle more carefully than extroverts.
In my book, The Power of Misfits: How to Find Your Place in a World You Don’t Fit In, I write about the reasons why so many introverts feel inadequate and alienated from other people in today’s society. It all goes down to social expectations this personality type has to deal with from a very early age.
But the good news is that every introvert can overcome the negative effects of these expectations and find the right path in this loud, extroverted world.
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