Remember Nickelsville?

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    i have to say one more thing.

    You make a lot of public assumptions.. among them that the best minds in the city are actively working on the homeless problem..

    well.. let’s just assume that is true

    I have spoken with the “best minds in the city” and they will all publicly and privately admit that our current public model for sheltering the homeless …

    the in in the evening and out first thing in the morning with all your stuff on you back model is not working

    and that we need 24 hour shelters with lockers if we are going to enable homeless people to transition out of homelessness…

    A winter ago the city authorized an experimental 24 hour shelter in the old firehouse in Lake City that Nickelsville had previously occupied…

    Do you know what happened to that experiment?

    When the winter shelters opened this year, a 24 hour shelter was not among them.

    Nor was the firehouse reopened for any kind of winter homeless shelter.

    The problem with those best minds is that they are politicians..

    and politicians are very sensitive to not in my neighborhood activism.

    Homeless activism is not new in Seattle…

    But the notion that the people on the streets might be a lot more like the rest of us than anyone wants to admit pretty much is…

    If you want to change what the “best minds” do..

    you have to change the not in my backyard mentality that pretty much prevents them from doing it.



    Hi DBP. Thank you for your kind words.

    NV residents with pets had some bad experiences prior to us connecting with them, so we had to work very hard to gain, and keep, their trust. Mike Stahl was a huge part of helping us gain their trust, as was JoB.

    We have actually been very successful with the spaying/neutering of NV resident pets, (and non-NV resident pets). Sometimes the S/N conversation occurs over a period of weeks or months—however, most of the time folks leap at the opportunity to have their pet S/N. The majority of the time those that are resistant at first, change their mind once they have more information and a chance to think about what is best for their pets. Telling anyone that they ‘have to’ S/N their pets doesn’t work well. Providing people with data and support, in a respectful manner, so they can make an informed decision, is what we find works best. F3 sees this over and over again with the people we meet and support. (NV and non-NV)

    The woman with the Chihuahuas decided not to breed her dogs (again), once she met us. We had several discussions over a couple of months. One day she called us, saying she wanted her dogs fixed.

    There were a couple of litters of kittens born in the camp. Once old enough…all kittens and the mothers we spayed/neutered, vaccinated and found homes.

    In the 20 months we have been teaming with NV residents, 35+ pets have been spayed or neutered, and vaccinated. The S/N rate for NV pets is almost 100%.



    There is nothing I need to add, to F3’s post #127, other than to vouch for it’s accuracy, in relation to the approximately five months that I was Pet Co-Ordinator at NV in 2011, and I have absolutely no doubt that they have continued to assist NV pets and their people, with the utmost respect, dignity, sensitivity, and care.

    F3 worked very hard to gain the respect, of the initial pet owners in the Camp, after the bad experiences they incurred.

    Many Homeless folks have trust issues, due to real and perceived experiences of being burned by “the system”.




    F3, your work with Nickelsville has been a success, but only because of your willingness to sacrifice yourself. The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t have to do that. You shouldn’t have to spend your time convincing people there to get their pets fixed. That job is for NV staff to do.

    Mike, you did your best during a very difficult time. I know there was a struggle over who could come to camp and talk about animals during those first few months.



    Nothing is more emblematic of the gulf between the dream and the reality of Nickelsville than this faded sign, which gets propped up near the entrance to camp whenever visitors are expected:

    Photo by Kevin McClintic


    For the record, Nickelsville is not, never has been, and never will be “eco-friendly.”

    And neither is it a village, except in the sense that a village-worth of people happen to live there at any given time. From one week to the next, the camp’s population can turn over as much as 25% or more, and “villagers” can be expelled for a variety of causes, some reasonable, some not so reasonable.

    The “eco-village” thing is not so much a case of false advertising as one of magical thinking.

    I don’t fault people for wanting this to be true. However, I do fault them for maintaining that it IS true, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.




    There are no “staff” at Nickelsville.

    There are residents who volunteer for totally thankless jobs and get blamed by both residents and visitors when they don’t have the authority or the resources to do the job they volunteered to do.



    Thanks again DBP.

    As you know, one of our programs is ‘It’s Hip, to Be Snipped’, so we spend a good amount of time speaking with people about why their pet needs to be spayed/neutered. It’s part of our mission.

    Thank you for recognizing that these conversations sometimes some effort and patience.



    As some of you know, I have been trying to bring responsible parties to the table so they can begin ironing out a relocation agreement that’s acceptable to both the City and Nickelsville residents.

    A fool’s errand you say? Perhaps.

    I’ve made a little progress with the City so far, but even that has been hard going, as I’m sure the long-suffering Jo will attest. To get a response from the City, you sometimes have to make a real pest out of yourself, and I have an advantage over Jo in that area, because with me, the ‘pest’ part is already done.

    Anyway, last week, fresh from a small victory with Councilmamber Licata, I decided to take a crack at wrangling the NV side. I contacted one of NV’s officially unofficial offials and asked him if he’d like some help crafting a move-out proposal to give to the City.

    (Before contacting the NV staffer, I had already lined up a representative from HPAC and a rep from the NV support community who had both agreed to sit down with me and the NV staffer to come up with a plan.)

    Unfortunately, the NV staffer declined the offer, saying that he was already working with various other groups to craft a proposal for the Mayor and City Council to review.

    Time’s running out, I reminded him. When will your proposal be ready, do you think?

    Don’t know, he replied. I don’t like talking about our proposals with the City Council, because they shoot down everything.

    That’s pretty much as far as it went, but I let the NV staffer know that our offer to mediate was always open, and that, in the meantime, I’d be continuing to write my little “column” on the Blog. Before I hung up, I told him the same thing I told Mr. Licata and the Mayor. I said that I was disappointed and frustrated with the lack of progress so far and that I expected to start seeing more leadership and less politicking. From both sides.

    He said he’d pass my comments along to the official NV relocation working group.



    DBP. Thanks for the update. Do we know ‘who’ comprises the official NV relocation working group?



    –No, but I’m going to try and find out. I assume the committee is composed of folks who have been at NV for a while. Long enough to know the issues involved, at least.

    (Someone with a more cynical bent might say it’s the folks who are most pliable. Pliable, that is, to the will of the officially unofficial official unmentionably mentioned in post #133.)


    There’s a built-in paradox with every standing committee at NV, and the paradox is this: To be on a committee, you should really have a higher level of experience and commitment than an ordinary camper. And that means you should stick around for a while. Yet the longer a camper sticks around, the more he loses sight of the true purpose of the camp, which is to help people move on. NV is supposed to be way-station, after all. It’s not supposed to be the end of the line.




    if what i have heard from residents about past moves is any indication, few, if any of the residents of Nickelsville are on the Nickelsville relocation committee..

    in fact, most of the time the residents don’t know where they are going until their bus arrives.

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