Friday, December 31, 2010


Thursday January 6, 2011 (6-8PM)
Tether Design Gallery
323 Occidental Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104

Residue from SONG OF TENT CITY, the self-designed poetry residency I began on 27 November at Tent City 3, will be installed at Tether Design Gallery in January 2011. The show opens at 6pm on Thursday 6 January for the First Thursday Seattle Art Walk. Includes installation, artifact, audio and live interaction during the opening. Get an idea of what it's like to live at Tent City. Sit inside the mini yurt I've been living in. Read poetry and handwritten journal entries written by homeless people living in Seattle. Listen to audio clips from artist collaborations between Seattle artists and current Tent City artists. Participating Seattle artists include Lyn Coffin, Josie Elizabeth Davis, Vanessa DeWolf, Ann Sloper and Sam Trout. Audio was graciously recorded and edited by the amazing, Christopher Wilson. Artists, on both sides of the fence, donated their time and efforts to this cause. All funds collected at the show will go to Tent City. Their greatest expense is transportation. When available, two bus tickets per day are provided to each camper, which helps them get to appointments and seek work. The next largest expenses are honey buckets and trash removal. 100 people live at Tent City 3. This gallery show will run through Thursday 20 January. This project received in-kind support from Tether and financial assistance from SPROUT! Thank you both.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Day

Tent City 3 was invited to the school gymnasium at Our Lady of the Lake in Wedgewood from 3-7pm on Christmas Day. Five fold-out banquet tables were lined up to create a beautiful long buffet. There were china plates and silver silverware. It was general seating at paper-wrapped, decorated banquet tables. Dinner was ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, fresh green salad, spinach salad, caeser salad, cranberry sauce, gravy, fruit, buttered rolls. A young woman was seated on the stage playing solo violin. There were wrapped presents under a Christmas tree. Those who served dinner later sat and ate with us. We all dined together in a warm, dry, well-lit space. It was civil and orderly and felt like a relief and something we'd earned. It felt right to be dining inside together. A warm, dry space solves so much and we were all so thankful for it. Merry Christmas! And everyone went home with a wrapped present, which are reported to having been useful items such as long johns. TC3 residents worked with the crew from Our Lady of the Lake to break down the buffet and tables and to package and transport the leftovers. We were all so wonderfully full and happy. 

Medication Walk
Earlier in the day, Dan Smith of Tether Design Gallery and his girlfriend Jaga joined us for the weekly meditation walk. Wayne called it a medication walk. Two campers joined this week! I led it and walked us into the Meadowbrook Wetland Preserve across from the Meadowbrook Community Center. Thornton Creek tumbled happily through the park as  we walked over. It's a peaceful park with a lot of environmental art and educational signs about the wildlife and a pond and trees and birds. After the walk Dan gave me a stack of poster-sized broadsides that Tether had letterpressed with the words "Song of Tent City" in orange at the bottom. The hopes is to fill them with original art before the gallery show next week. That's a tall order, but I'm willing to try. Christmas Day seemed like the most logical choice of days to work on such a project as I knew we'd be indoors. While we may have to resort to dark, wet, frozen conditions, it'll be nice to begin with something a bit more pleasant. After dinner, I interested seven artists in preparing maps/graphs of their lives. Below is an example of one that was presented as a board game. Ingenious!

King County Correctional Facility
After our walk I was made aware of a man who had gone to jail, someone I'd met recently in the shelter system. I didn't ask why or what. I only knew he was in custody and it was Christmas Day and he hadn't seen anyone yet. I was told it was unlikely he'd receive any visitors between now and his court date nine days away. I said I'd visit. I didn't know what to expect. Would I be allowed? Would he welcome my visit? What would we say? This wasn't a person I know well, but I wanted to let him know he wasn't forgotten. It being Christmas, the meters were free and parking was plentiful. I parked two blocks away on 5th Avenue and walked to the facility. Rules prohibit you from bringing a cell phone into the building. I would have had to pay for a locker, so I walked back to my car and pared my personal belongings down to a wallet and keys. Once I was cleared through security, I went up to the check-in desk on the second level and filled out a visiting form. On the way up, I passed Drew Daly's public artwork, Reverb, a playful line of white chairs, connecting like paper dolls. Suzanne Beal says, in Sculpture Magazine, Daly's life is a series of repetitive gestures. To see such play here, inside a fortified entrance guarded by two armed men and cluttered with security gates and x-ray machines, one wonders, who is likely to sit and enjoy these? Who is going to play here? I loved them and wished I could take them out to a green field with a view of the mountains. In light of these chairs, stretched out accordion-style, I considered the population here and the repetition of visitors and they assumed a more ominous role.

Waiting Room
I wasn't the only one. A grandmother and her two grandkids were also waiting. One was reprimanding the other. The older sister was the warden. The little boy was the prisoned. Whenever her brother stood up, she made him sit down. No please. No thankyou. There was another couple at the window. And another couple arrived as I was leaving. When I was approved, I was directed out the building and back in through the west entrance. They called the west entrance a courtyard. I'd call it  a back access area. It was nondescript and lazy looking. All the doors were metal and locked. After I buzzed, a door snapped open. It startled me. The interior was low-ceilinged, cream-colored, concrete block. The visiting room was bleak, like in the movies, overly bright, claustrophobic, made of concrete block and, again, poorly painted. Plastic chairs waited around in front of the four plexiglass windows. Telephone receivers perched on short ledges under the windows. They didn't ft on their hooks, which were placed too high on the wall under the shelves. Either the phones were poorly installed or the shelves were added later without thought to their integration.

America Sucks
A shallow inner hallway ran around the outside of the room, behind of the windows. One metal door, quiet and closed, led to that area. It is through this door inmates are issued. A free-standing table, dead center, in the middle of the room, had a chess board painted on it but no chess pieces. There was no one in the room but me. I sat in a chair facing a window, waiting for the door to open. Eventually, the door opened and the person I came to see emerged. He was in blood-orange scrubs (King Country prison uniform) and had a wristband on. He sat across from me wondering, I guess, why I'd come, but then he expressed relief about my visit. It had been six days since he had seen anyone. He had knew very little about his court date. I could see the stress and fear and worry in his face. He mustered a smile here and there, but mostly talked about the monotony of life inside--no windows, constant tv, uncertain future. We used the telephone receivers to talk, separated as we were by the scratched plexiglass. In front of me someone had scratched, "America Sucks." Yup.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Moon Over Tent City

Mandatory Meeting
The Wednesday meeting happened at TC3 at 6:30pm as usual. It was not raining or terribly cold and so we were somewhat comfortably gathered around, on foot and in camp chairs. Thankfully, the smokers were not all bottled-necked at the entrance as they were last week. Ah, but the meeting went on for a very long time as there were many voices of dissent and discussion about most issues and people needing to be heard. Roger has been doing an excellent job of leading the meetings and so we were not waiting on process, but rather on the voice of the people. Once, it was put to the vote whether or not we should end the meeting and the majority voted to extend it. And so on it went. I was nominated to be EC (executive committee), but declined the position. I don't have 30 hours a week the position requires right now, but I'd like to try the position sometime before I leave camp. Perhaps there will be another chance? It's a fascinating experience, these camp meetings. It's the closest thing I've ever seen to a true democracy, with many voices talking and many wills clashing and few things being agreed upon and popularity winning the vote this week and order winning the vote next week. Constant flux. A true reflection of the people in the state.

Tent City 3 Tour
A friend visited after the meeting, came to see the camp, spend some time in it. Knowing he'd be outside, standing around, talking, he wore long johns. He even toyed with the idea of spending the night, but was he really ready to sleep on milk crates in a community tent? Well, maybe he'll come back in a few weeks, with an inflatable mattress, maybe. It didn't take more than a few steps to get engaged in conversation, first with one person then another. We had six long conversations in two hours. "I'll give you the scoop," said the first. And he did, he gave us the scoop, on how to survive Tent City. It's an art form. Everyone's got a trick or a piece of advice. "You need to stay warm." "Keep your head down." "Eat fruit." "Don't talk at the meetings." "Steer clear of the drama."

Artist Collaboration #4
On Thursday, Darren, the TC3 kitchen coordinator, met with graphic designer/installation artist, Sam Trout, for the fourth artist conversation. We met at Tent City, took a quick tour of the camp, then drove to the bagel shop. I led the way and Sam followed with Darren in his car. Once we were settled with coffee, the conversation began. It started with the simple stuff about who they were then fell on their mutual interest in drawing. From there it went to musical tastes then delved into personal histories. It went further and further until they arrived at the frozen moment, that picture of life beyond which Darren wasn't able to move. Vehicle--coma--accident--she never came back--everything ripped away from me. And there they were, two artists sitting at a table, offering one another advice on how to move beyond life's obstacles, sharing stories of pain and healing. "I ran away.""I learned to meditate." I don't know if they will produce anything or agree to a goal, but I know it was worth the time of their pairing and meeting to get here. "Here's my story. Tell me your story." Sometimes that is enough.

Later in the day, I connected with Chris Wilson about the recording. We decided to work in my little studio in Fremont which will keep things convenient. Chris says although his equipment is semi-portable, it can't be used for field recordings. If I want to record anything at TC3, the wind or rain on the tarps, I'll have to rent equipment. We talked about the scope of the recording project. Chris was helpful in determining what would best be captured on video and what could be produced as audio. He spends most of his time recording classical music. I'm thankful Josie connected us and hopeful the artists will have something for him on Thursday.

Prayer Wheel
Still later, I met with Stu about the prayer wheels. We sat around discussing nothing for a long time then went to look at the 30-pound, handmade, Tibetan prayer wheel in front of Planet Earth Yoga in Fremont. Stu says he has access to the press at Pratt and that he can press the "song" into a copper plate and bend that into a prayer wheel. Sounds good. Let's do it!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Artist Collaborations

Ann & Giant
Ann Sloper, producer of Ice Queens, the crowd-pleasingly gorgeous paper dresses at the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade 2009 and 2010, met up with "Giant" (aka Matthew Barrett), a serious and prolific poet suffering from genetic and other forms of cancer. Giant writes about being homeless and exposes our commonalities. Giant talked of his work and health and of the stresses of this time of year. Ann asked about the possibilities of working with the camp to do something collaborative for next year's parade. Giant doesn't look farther out than than February. The doctor's are uncertain if he will be around next summer. Ann called her friend Toby, to see if he was around and if he might do some healing work for Giant. Toby responded immediately that he would and they set up an appointment for the morning. Quick work!
Ann Sloper and Toby Christensen and Giant and I met at Lighthouse Coffee in Fremont. I steered us to my friend's house and got some blankets out, then Dan gave Giant some instructions. "Lie down, relax, stay open to the rhythms. I am going to do some healing drumming over you. It sounds like reiki on steroids. It will last about an hour. I will be facing away from you. If you need to get my attention, you can tap my leg."
And then Toby, The Healing Drummer, stood over Giant, straddled him with a djembe between his legs, and began to play fast and sharp. Toby is an innovator in the field of healing music. The rhythms were forceful.

I sat in the same room, in a rocking chair, listening and trying to keep my own pathways open. I saw a village. I was one of the villagers. I was an African woman. Everything was possible in the music, through the music, with the music. The rhythms vibrated around me and, I supposed, through me. There was nothing violent happening, but the beats were correcting and killing what needed to be killed and feeding what needed to be fed and there was life and death all around and arguments and resolution.

"Breathe deeply," he said when he was done. "Sit up when you're ready. Drink plenty of water. Your chakras are now aligned. You may feel a lightness in your upper body and a heaviness in your legs. This is normal and will pass as the negative energy is released through your feet."

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I was there for church line-up, then for the church sign-up, then for dinner, then I was cold and needed to retreat. I wasn't layered up. I had cowboy boots on, which have pretty consistently, when the temps are below 50, made my feet cold. Why don't I give them up? They are my Tent City boots. I still have my copy of Watermelon Sugar in my right boot. It falls out every time I take my boot off and I stick it back in there. I read it some nights in my sleeping bag in a sleeping bag in a bivy on milk crates. Off to somewhere I go then, to write, to prepare, to do something, what? No destination. I'm headed to Greenwood. The turns I make take me there. Perhaps I am going to Kate's. I park and go into Makeda and work on a few things. I close them down. I stop by Kate's. She is in her den, watching a movie, the doors are locked, no doggie topsides. I consider the hot tub. There is it and here I am, cold. I could knock on the basement window and say ,"Let me in, let me in!" I retreat. I get in my car. While the engine warms, I add a layer, long johns and a fleece jacket, and drive across town. I feel like an outsider. I want to be alone with the others who are alone. But then I hear a faint music, voices singing, a choir. I'm carrying an extra sleeping bag in with me and my art supplies and my hip sack. I am wearing my crazy 10 sweater poet's cloak. I am laden, so to speak. But I walk towards the music anyway and away from camp. I am the only one wandering about. This is suburbia. Every so often a car passes. Unlike the days before, I do not feel as if I own the street or the town or the world. I feel as if I am trespassing and will need, at any moment, to provide my papers and explain who I am and where I'm going. Why? I'm tethered to Tent City. I represent it. I could cause them harm. It is already a scar, a mar, an imposition on the neighborhood. Or so some feel. Or so we are told. Or made to understand. It runs through my head that I am a threat. Am I a threat? I do have bundles. I am going to a homeless camp tonight. Are they wondering how I see them? Are they wondering if I am scanning their homes, their yards, their landscapes for some space? Are they are wondering where I will end up tonight? Will I tread on their world? Will they have to conceive of a way to fix me or remove me? Am I looking to nest? I hold up my head. I make eye contact. I look annoyed when they get in my way. Come on, come on, I've got places to go! I maintain a confident, optimistic facade. I talk to dogs. I fondle my cell phone. I make prudent decisions when crossing the street. These things keep me from looking homeless. Hah, they include me in the known world, the neighborhood of the understood. By time I return to camp, hours later, I am warm, my feet are warm and, though I am still trespassing, it is more the way a raccoon trespasses. There is a certain transfer of ownership after a certain hour in suburban America, when suburbia itself shrinks and goes inward and the possums and raccoons and take over.

solder soulder solidare to make solid
this is the front line we're wide awake in here there is a rustling in the wings a shifting overhead let them buy you dinner let them give you scarves you're serving a purpose someone somewhere is arranging your life someone somewhere is in your things talking to someone about you about what they can take from you everyone is asleep we are untying knots we're in plastic bag we're suspicious but we know how to forgive and we're willing to share what we have what do you need what do you want how can you be more than you are more than one person a toy a man a dog all at once a long man in a long blanket like a cigarette stands with a fold of fabric over his head it's quiet hours the lights are out we're sharing advice now at a lower level divulging normalizing excusing venting aligning exposing you're nothing but a wheel on gravel now we own you we own the moon we've seen it all

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Moons of Jupiter

Saturday's Silent Walking Meditation
We've taken 2 walks so far. How peaceful. How lovely. Silence really is enough. The waters drippling in the ditch. The green boards of the play bridges. Walking with my own peace. I am reminded of other walks. Of the moors on Nantucket, of getting lost in the cranberry bogs, of finding the hidden forest, of  the avenue of grapes. Walking, silently, I feel I am doing what I was meant to do and could do forever. This week, one of the security officers from TC3 walked with us for a few hundred feet. Besides Oakley, the walkers have all been outsiders, but each has taken the opportunity to tour the camp and meet the residents. It's been an effective interface and I, most of all, appreciate it. Lyn stopped us to check-in. "About hurrying," she said, "when you find yourself hurrying, something is wrong. Either the hurrying is wrong or what comes of the hurrying will be wrong. Look around. The trees, the flowers, the mountains--which of these is hurrying?" The next walk is Christmas morning. The one after that is New Year's Day. 10AM. I will be leading as Lyn is away for the holidays. Join me?

Getting Credit
After our walk, after taking Lyn and Vanessa to their destinations, after driving Clinton and Hugo to the airport, I drove back to TC3 and lined up for the Sunday service sign-up. Line forms at 3pm. I was 3rd in line. Whew! I did it. I successfully signed up for Sunday service at Wedgewood Presbyterian Church. Church is just up the street on Sunday at 9:30am.  Community credit, here I come! When Sunday rolled around, I arrived early and was asked to sign in and put a name tag on. I wore my cloak of 100 colors and received compliments from those in the pews around me. I'd never been to an Episcopal service. I was raised Catholic. There was no kneeling, no procession and no Eucharist. There was only standing and sitting and reciting and singing and hand shaking. And special Christmas songs. And a teenage rock band. The youngest children were called up to the alter and given lessons there in loving. I left immediately after the service. Though I felt the call to stay, I had a brunch to attend.

I had my things--my bed roll, my art supplies, my hip sack. I was headed to camp. Then I heard a song. From an open window? No. From down the street? No. Further, where? There's no church here. Further, a party? Further further... I walked 2 miles, down 100th to Sand Point to the Christmas ships at Matthew's Beach where a crowd was gathered singing and drinking cocoa. I was on my own. I was on my way. I had my things with me. I was in my cape. Half way there, I heard them announce, "This will be our final song." I'll miss it, I thought, but I walked on. When I arrived, there were no ships, a small group under a tent was packing away the cocoa and cups, a smaller group was huddled around a fire. I climbed the lifeguard stand and sat for a long while conducting it.

The Moons of Jupiter
There are 4 moons around Jupiter. With binoculars of a slightly higher power, we'd be able to see them as pinpoints of light strung out in a line around Jupiter. Jupiter is high in the southern sky and the moon is almost full. Clouds race in and out, wiping it away and replacing it. It is clear and cold. Roger talked, as he does on such evenings, of the planets and stars. The moons of Jupiter have names even the dullest could fall in love with -- Io,  EuropaGanymede and Callisto. Io is volcanic. Europa is icy. Ganymede and Callisto are planet-sized.
Research Club Brunch
I was asked to speak at Tessa Hull's Research Club Brunch at Pilot Books this month, along with Sprout and 826 and a some other wonders of Seattle. Do I have enough information about what I'm doing? What am I doing? What have I learned? Too much, not enough, I don't know. I spoke last. I talked about my experiences. I showed a few images. I don't know if I was cohesive. I was tired and worried about getting back to meet with Josie and Oakley by 3pm. I was going to be late, but I didn't have much slack time. After my meeting in Meadowbrook, I needed to be back on Cap Hill by 5 to facilitate an the Sonar Plumage. Ayiee! Brunch was so terrific and attended by a great group of interesting, interested artists and engaging speakers. The quiche was tasty. What a way to spend a Sunday morning! I'll be back to lounge in the little attic at Pilot Books and hear Seattle artists talk about their life and work. Thank you, Tessa!

Collaborative Artist Teams
Josie and Oakley, our 2nd artist team met on Sunday. The conversation started with music and musical talent, then moved to pop culture and Michael Jackson and Prince. When I left, they were just beginning to talk about how they might piece it all together. I had to be on Capitol Hill for a pilot test. I took the collaborative artist model to Studio-Current for Vanessa Dewolf's Sonar Plumage. What comes of collaborative conversations between successful performing artists? Amazing things, source materials, direction, support, conversation, liberation to do what the artist wants to do without the constraint of what is required, what is necessary. Free art!!

The Graveyard Shift
Before going to the Aloha Inn, I had to drive back to Tent City with my church program to prove I'd been to church. Proof has to be presented by midnight on Sunday in order to get credit. Well, after standing in line on Saturday and waking up Sunday morning and attending service, it'd be silly not to get credit. Then, I went to the Aloha. I worked the 12-6am shift Sunday night/Monday morning. I got to wash my sleeping bag and my now wet and stained sheepskin mat.
I arrived at 11:30pm and met Triple A and Chris in the carport. Chris and I talked and worked and laughed all night long. I drank sup after cup of green tea and tried a yogurt that must've been off, too sour, I threw it away. I stuck to the granola bars after that. I could feel my body getting sick though. Too many engagements. Too little time. Not enough sleep. Stress. I was fading by 4 and 5 o'clock. We finished our 24th bag of blankets at 5:30am and went up to the tv room to rest and wait for the van driver. The couches are, of course, too tiny to stretch out on, but that didn't keep me from falling asleep. When the van driver arrived at 6, we loaded the bags in the back and I said goodbye and went off to sleep. I slept for 11 hours and woke up sick. Blast it!

The number of donations coming into Tent City have been astounding! At the community level--individuals, churches, social groups, schools--we're giving on a level I never suspected. A man with one leg, on a bicycle, towing a trailer, brought a donation of 2 sleeping bags. A group of 7 Asian-Americans brought 5 pans of steaming chicken with fried rice. A grade school delivered sack lunches. The 4th-8th graders at Seattle's Waldorf School made, wrapped and delivered hand-knit scarves to everyone in camp. I tore mine open and wound it round my neck. It was a short, knobbly, mustard yellow, the perfect length. How loved we are! A group of older women from an athletic club brought bags of colorful, hand-knit lap blankets and hats and scarves and cosmetic kits with handmade soap. O! Gorgeous, again! I treasure my little blanket. I found this sign at the Goodwill a few weeks ago and brought it to camp. Someone hung it up above the sandwich table. Some things spoil. There is no refrigeration, outside of the natural winter weather, so when the temperatures fluctuate the food can and does go off. I've more than once thrown something out that smelled off. Best to eat the hot food when it comes in, in the evenings. It's amazing to think that most nights of the week the camp receives a hot meal from some loving source. There is Upper Crust Catering in Greenwood who have been delivering meals every Monday since they first stopped into the camp when it was in Greenwood.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hopping the Fence

Collaborating Artists
I am putting together 5-6 multi-disciplinary artist teams for possible collaboration--pairing TC3 resident artists with professional working artists in Seattle to begin a dialog. Artist teams agree to meet for a one hour conversation sometime in the next two weeks. The actual collaborations may or may not happen, that's up to the artists, but all artists will meet and work towards collaborative ideas. This is about real time connections. It's about art as a battering ram. It's about hopping a 10' fence with a paintbrush and a poem. Teams will, in late December, go into a recording studio. We're pleased and honored to be invited into Chris Wilson's studio in Fremont to present our work. Ah! Then we'll have proof of what's possible when the fence comes down. The tricky part is getting the artists together. Some residents have phones, some don't. Some I see everyday. Some it's by chance. When I do see an artist these days, I pull my calendar out and get an artist friend on the phone and set a date.

Lyn and Mark were the first two artists to meet. Brave pilots. I facilitated their meeting on Friday and, wow, I couldn't have asked for a better match or a more exciting start! It began with Lyn reciting a section of the Battle of Maldon in Old English and Mark pulling out a copy of that very poem from his knapsack, in The Cambridge Old English Reader, which he's currently working on recording. From there, they moved on to Beowulf and then Lyn's finger settled on a line, "homeless they wander." That started a litany of "you know what I'm thinking" and "it would be fun to." Lyn and Mark worked easily together and decided to follow their collaboration through. They're working on an original script via email and will meet again next week before the studio recording. Bravo team! Bravo!!

I'd met with Mark the night before. We read out a section of Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae, a comedy Mark plans to present at the American Philological Association. Mark is a Classics scholar, a Greek translator, an actor and an all around brilliant man. He carries a full pack of tomes about with him and seems to have whatever he needs just when he needs it. The rain is ruining them, he says. He is studying for his Japanese equivalency, applying to graduate programs and has many project going.

4AM in Meadowbrook
Alas. I showed up for the camp-wide meeting. It was cancelled. I didn't eat enough. I waited around. There was laughter. I sat in the middle of it. I pulled out my typewriter and became the song. I gave my lantern hundreds of cranks. It faded, so... the hot sucker fish came swimming along and latched onto my face. Feverish, stuffy head. Like Jiminy, I rubbed my feet together in my sleeping bag. I have cold feet. I am unable, simply unable, to sleep with cold feet. I'm dressed well enough, I think. Two pairs of long johns, gloves, a scarf, a hat and a down jacket. I'm dressed for bed. O but sick, sick, sick, I am, and cold. Cold, cold, cold in my sleeping bag, seeping bag. Out goes the heat. How many hours in a warm place will it take this time? I gave it up at 4:30am. I got out of my bag, walked down to the kitchen tent and found the morning coffee brewing. I needed tea! I walked away. I drove to my office. After a 30-minute shower, my feet were still cold. I curled around my heater under a wool blanket. Cold! A few hours later, finally, I got warm. But that hot sick fish on my face persists.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Plastic Whale

Plastic Whale
When the wind breathes, all the tarps in Tent City breathe--krshhoouu, kashhhshsh--and I am surrounded by plastic tarps. It's like a plastic whale is passing under my ship. Wind is not kind to this flimsy fabric city. Monday night, thunder rolled in, low and long, to the south. I was lying in my ger, writing. Then the rain, lashing over the decks. I was in bed early, warming up in my bag, trying to keep my lantern lit, wrrewwwrrrew. I have a little handcrack Coleman lantern. Pitter, pit-pit-pit, pshsssh, the rain fell atop me. My toono (ger covering) has started to leak--splat splat--on my wool rug, which is already half-soaked. Perhaps I should roll it up and drag it away? I got down and found the right place and set a wooden bowl out it to catch the drips, then kicked the bowl over by accident, oops!

Last weekend, there were flooding rains and now thunderstorms. We're on a hill and get lots of wind. Waiting for the end, everyday, but they keep forecasting more. More rain, more wind! And the fence keeps blowing down. It's only a fabric screen nailed to wooden posts not staked in but placed atop the ground. Regulations. The posts are held up and guyed out by rock crates (milk crates filled with rocks). Last night, in the storm, the toppling fence put two people out of their tents and destroyed a tv. Mike did his best to get crews together in the morning to help put the fence back together, but many people were sick and some had to go to work and others were still sleeping. I stood around for a while waiting for instructions then decided to collect and right crates and pick up trash. The crew still had a lot to do when I left at 9:30, but I was afraid if I stayed I'd get even sicker. I went to a cafe for hot tea.

I've joined the ranks. I'm sick now too. Seems everyone is here sick and coughing. I woke up with a sore throat, headache and sinus congestion on Tuesday. I've been on a course of antibiotics since before I camp to camp. Now I've developed a terrible cold! I find it difficult to stay hydrated here. There are boxes of apples and oranges, but rarely any juice or bottled water or cups. I prefer tea to the cold hose water, but there's usually a wait for the microwave, so I go away without it and get involved in something else. I was issued a china mug, but getting it out of my wet, dark tent when I want tea isn't always desirable. Getting into my ger requires two hands. I normally just go in when I'm ready for bed and come out when when I'm leaving. The problem with the mugs is that there's no convenient place to store them. We all have cupboards in our kitchens for a reason. It's convenient to have our cups near our food and water. There's also nowhere in camp to wash them. It'd be easier if there were hooks and you could leave your mug in the kitchen, but that wouldn't pass hygiene. Personal hygiene is an issue. There is hand sanitizer by the kitchen you must use before entering--failing to do so will earn you extra securities--but there's no sink or warm water or mirror or place to dry your things. I haven't done any brushing, flossing or grooming here. That all happens at a cafe or my office. Some residents belong to gyms, others go to shower facilities downtown.

A Bed of Milk Crates
I'm finally up off the pallet and on a bed of milk crates. Randy helped me locate six large milk crates. I haven't zip-tied them together, but I set them on the high side of my ger and put my bedding on them. The donation coordinator offered me a 3" thick, cotton mattress. I worried about it getting wet and about it being 2 feet wider than my crates, but everyone said it would work just fine and help me sleep. I put the mattress on the crates and my now damp sheepskin atop that and my wet pillow underneath. My sleeping bag is inside a bivy so, no matter how wet the mattress gets, it should stay dry inside. Just get in and don't touch anything. My ger has so many coverings, it's dark inside, darker than a tent. I crank a little hand-crank lantern to see by. The cranking warms me up, but the light doesn't last long. My headlamp is still pulsing. I need new batteries.

Two cords bring power into the camp from the church. Power is used for a light at the front desk, a light in the office tent, 2 computers in the office tent (no internet just programs for bookkeeping), 2 tvs (one designated for movies only), a microwave and a large coffee maker in the kitchen tent (the two of which cannot be used simultaneously), and a phone charging station. There is no electricity to individual tents. There are parking lots lanterns overhead, but they go out at 10pm. A week ago, someone strung up Christmas lights around the movie and community tents, but the strand between them was hanging too low so the light to the community tent lights was pulled and then the storm took down the other ones.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beautiful Fence

What Stands Between Us
A privacy, that is all. A 10' screen, behind which we eat and sleep and work and laugh and talk and organize our lives. And when the wind blows, and when the fence falls, and when we see one another, suddenly, after a wind storm, what is it but a tired fence with greenery and hedges and clapboard promises and trees and horizons and gravel lanes that we see? What is it but multicolored coolers and stacks of blue tarps and honey buckets and plastic tables?

Is it the fault of the fence master, when information leaks? It has been windy, there have been heavy rains, there are only so many rocks in so many milk crates guying out the wooden poles. What can we do? Information is bound to leak in and out, beneath the burlap, where the zip ties tear the screens into teardrops, where the fence scoops down in the mid-sections.

How does understanding form across a fence? What stands between us when the fence is gone? How is it that knowledge is shared? Miroslav Tudjman and Nives Mikelic, in a 2003 paper entitled Misinformation and Disinformation, tell us that "knowledge is shared positively as information and negatively as misinformation." Are we receiving information or misinformation? What do fences breed? And does open space counter that? Where is the antidote to a fence? Besides bringing it down, which we'll leave to the wind and the rain, how might we institute a counter, an information exchange?

Forum de Mille Veritatis
At our last meeting, Stuart showed me a book of etchings by Brodsky & Utkin filled with graphic projections on the theme Man in the Metropolis. He pointed out an etching entitled, Forum of A Thousand Truths, which I read and studied. It is a perfect summary of my own views on the worth of the artist. The artist's job is not to prove their worth, but to live their worth. The artist is of value in that she is, in that she is perceiving. Forum of A Thousand Truths (the etching below) describes a forest of information (immense columns on which news and information is posted) among which you may move and maneuver by rowboat, and in the distance, in the clearing, a table and chairs in which you can sit and discuss, firsthand information.
13. Forum de Mille Veritatis 1987/90. 30 3/8" x 22 1/2"
"The Intelligent Market," Central Glass Co. Competition Japan Architect, Tokyo, Japan, 1987,

Forum of Thousands Truths
The Intelligent Market

Impossible to embrace the immen-
sity. We spend years and years
wandering in a maze of fever-
ish searching of knowledge and
finally understanding that we have
learned nothing. Nothing that
we really needed. The infor-
mation that can be bought for
money is not worth paying. We
can't embrace it at one glimpse.
We can't be sated with it. It al-
ways contains an admixture of
lies[s] because it comes from people,
even being perceived by means of
computer[s]. But [no] computers
would [ever] tell us the very esse-
nce of the matter. The Real Info-
rmation can't be bought. It is
accessib(l)e to those who can wa-
tch, listen, think. It is disperse-
d everywhere--in each spot, cra-
ck, stone, pool. A word in friend-
ly conversation gives more [information] than
all computers in the world. Sai-
ling through the forest, walking
in the field--maybe a visitor of
the Forum will find at last his
own truth--one from thousands.

The Poet's Purpose
I'm still struggling to determine my purpose at Tent City. I had so many plans and ideas about what I would do. Most of them have been flattened by the realities of a cold, wet, dark environment. In trying to manage and limit my time and duties and tendency to overwork and solve extraneous problems,  I am reminded of the worth of simply perceiving. I try to come back to this and move into my senses. Perceiving is enough. Experience is plenty. Stop worrying and come back to this.

Speed Queen - Laundry Duty
There is one industrial washing machine at the Aloha Inn on Aurora Avenue. It runs, nonstop, from noon on Sunday until 6am Monday morning, cleaning the personal and camp blankets of Tent City 3. Tent City 3 residents must turn in their bedding by 10am on Sunday or suffer extra security shifts. Loads of blankets are taken across town to the Aloha Inn by van. And then the washing, washing, goes through the night! Twelve blankets is the maximum and minimum load it will handle. Garbage bags full of wet, mildewed and unpleasant smelling blankets are broken open and stuffed in with full-body force. The work is done in 4 hour shifts, 2 workers per shift. A laundry shift equals 2 securities. The final shift, during which TC3 blankets are washed, is a 6 hour shift. It runs from midnight to 6am and equals three securities. I took the 12-4pm shift this week and will work the 12-6am shift next week.

Laundry duty is popular because you stay warm and dry and can wash a load of personals. You can even take a shower if there's time, but if you are conscientious, the work is nonstop. When a bag is emptied, the owner's name and the bag's contents are catalogued in two places: on a clear, clean bag and in a log book. When multiple bags of blankets come out of the dryer, they can then be properly matched and bagged. Strict systems and careful description are the key to a smooth laundry duty. Summer, the blanket master, and I worked well together so the afternoon passed quickly and pleasantly.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Poet's Swaddlings

Cloak Of A Hundred Colors
Here it is, the poet's cape. Vanessa calls it swaddling. Stephen calls it refinery. I call it poor royalty. It's 10 wool sweaters, cut up and reassembled. It's called not getting out of bed. Wool and silk. Thanks to Clinton Bliss for designing and constructing it. I've worn it for three days and have received many compliments. Yesterday, I was even followed by two women in a car who then rolled their windows down to ask, "Where did you get your coat?!"

And what is possible in such a cloak? And what is necessary? You cannot, for instance, just wander down the street in such a cloak with your head down, feeling inconsequential. One is, by costume, prepared and promenading through life! In such a cloak, one might warm two people or more. There is the girth of it to consider.

10am Saturdays
December 11, 18, 25
Maple Leaf Lutheran Church
10005 32nd Ave NE, Seattle, WA
Lyn Coffin is leading silent meditation walks on Saturdays in December. The group will leave from Maple Leaf Lutheran Church, now hosting Tent City 3, and walk silently and mindfully through the neighborhood. I plan to join the walk and hope you will too. It's free and open to all, an invitation to the public and to Tent City 3 residents, an invitation to interface. The walk will last approximately 20-30 minutes. Wear layers, bring an umbrella, be prepared for the weather. Rain is in the forecast.

Interfacing is a textile sewn into the wrong side of a fabric to stiffen a garment. If this is the case then the whole of Tent City is interfacing, sewn into the wrong side of the community to make it more rigid. An interface is also a place where two things meet, a point of interaction between systems or groups. I'm hoping to create an interface between Tent City 3 and the public. Is this desirable? Do all or any parties want this or is it just my idea of a solution? I had thought it would solve some problem, expose some thing, facilitate healing. I've given it much thought and time, in many meetings with various professionals, but I am coming, through my struggles, to realize that perhaps it is just me. I myself am the best and only interface. Just me, being where I am and who I am. That's a hard one. The inactivity has been beaten out of me. I'm a busy person. I do things. I am quick to act. I solve and fix and generate things. Just being, that's meditation, that requires stillness and acceptance. How could I, alone, be enough? I'm better at racing around stirring pots. It keeps me from perhaps from seeing that nothing is getting done. What am I seeking?

A new friend, an architect, met with me to consider what kind of a physical object we might make to define or elicit an interface between Tent City and the community. We talked, we drew, we drafted ideas, then tried to figure out how to implement them. With the multitude of restrictions and pressures on Tent City, each idea posed its own set of problems. Actions and ideas that are feasible and simple for you and me are not necessarily even possible from inside the fence. Noise is one of the biggest issues. You cannot raise your voice in camp or in the vicinity of the camp. Loitering, trespassing and soliciting are issues too. Pick-ups and drop-offs at Tent City are not allowed. Standing at the entrance to Tent City is not allowed. No parking at the church or within two blocks of Tent City. You cannot solicit the church or any place close-by for meeting rooms. The fence around Tent City must be a certain size, height and color. You cannot meet with friends in a pub in the vicinity of Tent City. If you leave, you must go and keep going. If you stay, you must refrain from profanities and keep your voice low. Open flames are not allowed. Catalytic heaters are not allowed. Thus there is no cooking in the camp. There is one microwave and one large coffee machine for all of camp. The two cannot be plugged in at the same time. It takes one hour to brew coffee. There is no hot water or sink for washing things. And on and on..

Our initial idea was to build a porch on Tent City, a physical space to serve as an invitation to the public, with chairs and a roof, a space where people from both sides could meet. After I moved in, however, it became clear such an idea wouldn't be feasible. Stuart and I have met three times to work on this, to identify an appealing, permissible invitation  and interface. Thus far, we have been unsuccessful.

With Words We Win
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must like a whore unpack my heart with words
And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
A stallion! Fie upon't, foh! About, my brains.
--Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2)

Whores unpacking their hearts, a multitude of poets. This I have found on both sides of fence, both, my lord, behind and before, in and out. Why just the other night, I was corned and my head rammed with words, even to the point of assault. Yet upon attempting to deflect the blows, I was rammed some more, and more, and more, ten times over and again. What could I do? Where could I go? I chose to stand and observe. How awful! Awful!

Monday, December 6, 2010


The strawberry beds are treasure islands in among the parking lot sea, but step on a strawberry and you'll earn yourself two extra security shifts. They're forbidden fruits in forbidden lands, the islands in the parking lot. I pulled two security shifts Friday night, 6-9pm and 12-3am (not because I stepped on the strawberries). Rules are rules, women are not allowed to go on neighborhood sweeps at night, which of course irks me, being someone who loves to walk, especially in a cold camp where walking is one of the only ways to keep warm. Alas though, I did sweep my first shift. I took a right out of camp and walked down 103rd to Ravenna and up 100th. I was warm by time I returned to camp to announce--All's quiet on the western front!

Afterwards, I helped unload the spaghetti dinner sent by Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. Four friendly men transported and served the meal to us. The line formed and cycled through and was opened for seconds. After seconds were served, I was again offered a plate. This time took it. It was piled with spaghetti, lasagna, salad and lemon cake. I ate everything and quickly and was warm the long evening because of it. Eat. Remember. Food is heat.


It is the stars,
The stars above us, govern our conditions;
Else one self mate and mate could not beget
such different issues.

--From Shakespeare's King Lear

Floating overhead, the democratic stars, the unconcerned birds and the cold and warm fronts with their thrifty clouds. Stars, so clear, push their way to us on earth, who, coldly shuttering, pull out our velvet purses. Roger and Roger and I stood gazing. Violin Roger oriented us before focusing on Betelgeuse, the red supergiant 640 light years away, which, he reports, will explode one day. By time we gave up for bed, there were at four others standing with us, looking up, sharing the stars.

Orion and I walked our last inside check at 3am, Sirius' sapphire now nosing up over the horizon. My boots clicked as I patrolled the docks. The barges are all tied together for the evening and creaking. While I walked, a thought formed in me and spread out like a ring. I thought it quietly, but it washed over me and made the whole camp sway. It was a simple thought--I care about these people. I've truly come to care for these people, lying on milk crates, behind tent flaps, in rows to right and left. They have names and stories and idiosyncrasies along with a whole host of lovable qualities. It felt good to leave the confusion behind. It felt good to be vested. Two days ago, I couldn't have said this. Since then, I've experienced the magic number of experiences, shared the magic number of minutes, looked into the magic number of eyes. And now I feel it. I've witnessed the tendernesses. I've seen people sharing the few goods they have. I've been hugged and smiled at and greeted. People have told me stories. Ideas have been tossed my way. Advice has been given, help been offered. Acceptance is everyday dredged again. You are who you are, where you are, and that's all you are. And, though there have been bars, there really are no bars, just obstacles we know we'll overcome, rocks in the stream to smooth and roll around.

I did not sleep a wink. Blink blink. Not when I first got into my bag for a three hour break, not after my second shift. I just lay down waiting for morning to come, in my sleeping bag, in a bivy, breathing my own warm air, atop a sheepskin, atop a thermarest, atop a plywood sheet, atop a pallet, in a parking lot in Meadowbrook. Strangely, my knees were cold this night. Less strangely, I felt a thrill. About? About life perhaps. I only know I've been roused. Traveling, as I am, one is often brought back to life. Then there's the scant sleep, which heightens things. Night before last, I stayed up writing until 5am at my office in Fremont. This morning, I woke to hoar frost on my ger and on the strawberries and grass and every shady spot.

I spent the day away from camp. What was to be a quick trip across town for 3 items, turned into a 5-hour conversation at Lighthouse Roasters on the possibilities for collaborative projects between artists in and out of camp. It all starts with a need. I needed coffee and a place to write. I'd planned to drink a coffee, write a bit, then head to my office. But then Clayton started a conversation, yet another old NBBJ architect. Then Josie Davis joined in. Then the woman at the next table, Ann Sloper, the producer of the Ice Queens, the fabulous paper dresses from the Fremont Solstice Parade. Ann asked what we were talking about and now she's on board to collaborate with an artist at Tent City. Then, just before I left, I saw my old neighbors, Mark and Jane. "We never see you any more." "That's because I'm living at Tent City." You should have seen her eyes widen and fill with horror, and me assuring, "as an art project, as an art project." They backed away, dragging with them their concern.

I dropped in on Clinton. He's hard at work on the poet's cape. He's making me a warm cloak to wear in TC3, to identify me as the poet, to let people know I'm working (the poet is in), so they can come talk to me. I've seen Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet  (Shakespeare) about 20 times. Mel Gibson plays Hamlet and delivers a force of a performance. Atop the richening experience of word play, I have salivated over costumes and set designs. I wanted to make myself a copy of Mel Gibson's sweater and cape. I froze the scene where he comes to the castle with The Players. He is about to script a play for them so as to expose the king. He is wearing a long, multicolor cape, which he draws about himself with a flourish. It is this cape we are using as a model. I need a cape to sit on the roof in. I need a cape to be out on the moors in. I need a cape to work and walk and sleep in. Clinton studied the frozen image and began to work out his own design. He started with the deer skin I'd bought last year at the Goodwill and was partway through when he moved to a different model using old sweaters. He bought 10 wool sweaters from the Goodwill, cut them up and is now sewing them into 10 long triangles which will come together to form a round cape. The piece is halfway done and gorgeous already! When I saw it, I said, "I can't own a coat like that and not walk across America!" One thing leads to another, I suppose, and who knows where I'll be in 2012, but really, with a coat like this, I'm rather certain of where I need to be, out walking with the people.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Art Begins to Surface

Buoy #15
Here it is, my ger (yurt), right and front, with the round brown roof (deever), and the cover on the roof ring (urkh), wrapped up in tarps like everything else. Behind it stands a row of tall blue smurfs, shared tents into which newcomers go. On the left is a couple's tent in brown tarps. I made this sketch on Thursday morning and colored it in with a tiny German watercolor kit. A few people were gathered around, Linda and Stan and Michael and John. I gave John some paper and pens and he began working at once on his own drawing.

a cold &kind confused
my role is to map the birds to imitate the rain to see the spirits inside the spirits to accept the weather in all directions to soak up the pools to be informed &gentle &raw &temporary &here i am head in the heavens &the sirens drift by &i'm a bit in a bivy sack my blankets are wet but i'm stuffed in deep with two hats on &two socks &a down jacket with fingerless gloves we don't call them armless jackets &two pairs of long johns &snores on both sides like a breakwater &plastic wheels rolling into the night laying down new paths to the universe here swims a sour smell from a bivy stored too long in a trunk to what will we wake if we decide to a phone call from a bill collector a voice in the kitchen cackles of laughter constant coughing &at last warmth warmth at last in a loose knot &wanting to hold that

Bye Bye Gray
Here it is, after so much rain, the big blue with whispering clouds. High in an eagle's nest, we're perched,  atop Meadowbrook hill, nestled in the trees. The sky, the sky! it said. The people, the people! we replied. The song, the song! It was sung. As a new mood drove through. And on and on. And out and out. Hot showers were discussed. And the Stan bird sang a song about love and moving on then did with a walking stick. I'll pay you to sing, I said. Pay me in cigarettes. No, no, something healthy, I said. Smiles he said.

Posted, on the board by the front desk, a sign: "No dinner today or tomorrow." It's down to canned food, chili and beans and soup. Someone organized the kitchen and it looks beautiful and well-stocked, but still those old sandwiches on the shelves. The shelves made of milk crates, stacked and zip-tied together. Loaves of bread. Tubs of peanut butter. Cartons of fruit (apples, bananas, grapes, oranges). Cakes and muffins.

The door to SHARE/WHEEL (Seattle Housing and Resources Effort, Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League) is in an alley in downtown Seattle, on Stewart between 2nd and 3rd. SHARE is an organization sponsoring fifteen shelters and two tent cities in Seattle, including the one I'm in (Tent City 3). I went to the Safe Haven Site Search meeting to earn my community credit and represented Tent City 3. I arrived half an hour early and waited 15 minutes. At a quarter to, I was let in and sat in the basement room until the others arrived. Eight people gathered, everyone representing a different shelter or Tent City, also getting credits. Lunch was Capn' Crunch and Fruit Loops with 2% milk. I didn't have any.

Then came the meeting, most inefficient. But there are many obstacles to efficiency. This was a first meeting for most. One, maybe two, had a history of the project. It took the entire meeting to get that on the table. And maddening the use of Robert's Rules of Order. We were required to raise our hand to talk and to answer and to redress and to... We were a small group at a boardroom table, it seems an unnecessary precaution. Though our group had a scribe, there were no minutes issued from the last meeting so we were all starting fresh.

An hour into the meeting I asked how long it would go. It was never stated and I had another meeting approaching and a parking meter to feed. I was told meetings last, on average, an hour and a half, but that was up to us. How fast could we come up with an action plan? After another half an hour, I announced that I needed to leave and would return next week to work in whatever capacity was needed---online research, letter writing, organizational history-- and would even bring my laptop. In response, I was told I might not get credit for this meeting because I was leaving before the follow-up work was complete. That's fine, I said.

Hurtles arise whenever I am near camp. They are in every rule and every fence picket and in every inch of green fabric around the city. There is pressure to remain invisible (for fear of being put out at the least infraction). I was told, as a woman, I could not walk a neighborhood at night, nor fill the camp cooler at the church spigot. I have been a woman now for 43 years and have walked and bicycled and sailed and climbed all over my city at night and by day. I am capable and alert and what exactly is the fear? And who is being protected in here?

I've met a dozen artists in camp. Singers and musicians and actors and translators and writers and even poets! I've heard from the non-artists too that they have a story to tell and, from still others, i have heard a disclaimer. "I don't belong here. This is not who I am." I hope, for all of them, to offer a journaling practice, to whomever is interested, something that will feed into a public reading and perhaps a publication and maybe an exhibition. I see talent and time and interest. And so many still to meet.

SONG OF TENT CITY COLLABORATORS.........................

Amy & Dan Peters of Blue Begonia Press offered to publish what comes out of this project. No telling what that will be, but I hope for a mix of prose and poetry, created separately and collaboratively. Dan is a terrific poet and teacher at Yakima Valley Community College and co-editor of Weathered Pages: The Poetry Pole.

Inventor, costumer and supporter, Clinton Bliss, is designing and constructing a one-of-a-kind poet's cape from an old, dried-out deer skin and some high-tech, wind-resistant material.

Matthew Casey has been photographing street artists and street dwellers for years. He offered to photo-document my project, but photography is a sensitive subject in camp so I'm holding off to see what Tent City might have a need for.

Arts reporter, Sarah Koenig, met with me twice, the second time on-site, at Tent City 3, the day after the move to Meadowbrook. We were joined by Andrew, a CityArts photographer, and given a thorough  camp tour by camp resident sage, Lantz. By the time the meeting was done, we were all, save for Lantz, complaining of the cold.

Circle of Friends has offered to lead a Cocoa Mix Gift Workshop for Tent City 3 to provide us with gifts for the holiday season.

Lyn Coffin, a brilliant poet, playwright, translator, performer and friend, sits in daily meditation. After sitting with Lyn one day, we got to talking and she offered to lead a walking meditation for Tent City 3. I suggested it to a camp resident and he seemed interested so that makes three and it's a go. Once it's started, I can continue weekly as a community event.

Maura Shapley and Jack leNoir of Day Moon Press donated a stack of beautiful, gray cover paper (Grandee Duplex) for the  journals I am making. In addition, Maura time-consumingly cut the paper to size on her guillotine and boxed it for me. Much gratitude!

Vanessa, co-founder of Project: Space Available and owner of Studio-Current (an active art space and laboratory for works-in-progress, reflective feedback and dialog), offered her tabletop press for my printing needs and, along with it, her love and time and ideas and utter brilliance for creative thinking and writing. What an force Vanessa is! What a resource! And how lucky we are to have her here in Seattle. She's been behind so very many artists and performances and projects and is a movement in and of herself. In the past two weeks, we've met five times, to purchase ink, sort type, run a test, fold folios and re-set the press. This Sunday, we'll print the covers and stitch the journals and they'll be ready. These handmade journals will go to residents of Tent City 3, after which I hope to provide some direction for a Tent City journaling project and offer to facilitate an ongoing writer's circle.

I met architect and artist Stuart Kleiger at the 2010 Tacoma Arts Symposium. I joined him for lunch and we talked about the architectural challenges of Tent City. It was an engaging discussion. Stuart brought up the use of porches and plinths and we talked about how such things would alter and improve the camp. Having spent some time in residence now, I see how these ideas won't work and instead see what is sorely missing and much needed. We spoke again and Stuart offered to deign a shared space for posting and reading work, perhaps a kiosk-like structure.

Tessa Hulls of Pilot Books asked me to speak at an upcoming Research Club Brunch.

Friend and new neighbor, Jim Roe, dropped in for a brainstorming session. He offered some sage advice and then some thoughtful ground support and assistance.

The very professional and admirable arts reporter, Amy Mikel, came to my office a week ago to interview me. She plans to follow the project in an ongoing series. Amy's most poignant question was, "How can I help you?" Stumped, I suppose, I tried to discuss my way to an answer. After an hour or so, I think I came to it. I want to place Tent City on the map, in the minds of the residents and, most especially, in the minds of the artists, as a place, a place of opportunity, a place for collaboration. If we can see it, perhaps we can bridge it?

Adrienne Anderson Smith shared her skill for making palm rings. She winds palms, on Palm Sunday, into one inch rings that, when dried, look lovely and organic hanging from a necklace. After a year of wearing it, she takes it off and burns it to make ashes for Ash Wednesday. I want to offer this ritual, with a slight variation, to Tent City. Our rings will be made from local grasses and worn by anyone living between homes. The ring is worn until a new home is found. It is then to be burned and the ashes smudged on the doorframe of the new house as a connection between the old and the new. We have all been unsettled. We have all been between places. Have experienced that search for a home.

Kristen Hoskins & Sarah Steininger of Sprout Seattle accepted "Song of Tent City" in early November for presentation at Sprout II. Sprout is an awesome, quarterly, sell-out, fundraising dinner featuring 5-6 artists, a home-cooked dinner and the chance to vote on which project to receive the money collected at the door. The event is supported by and held at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center. I was presented my idea to a lively room full of artists and arts supporters and was chosen to receive the $1000 award which is now making my work at Tent City possible. Nathan Marion, of the Fremont Abbey, later offered a meeting space in the cafe for my second brainstorming session.

KATIE TALBOTT of Present Sense offered to assist with the walking meditation and to perhaps bring in another healing or meditation opportunity.

Amanda Laughtland of Teeny Tiny Press offered to create a tiny welcome edition to be given to the residents of and then possibly one or more follow-up editions created by the residents. Her tiny zines are 8-sided and made from a single sheet. Amanda is an instructor at Edmonds Community College and an advisor to the literary/arts journal Between the Lines. She is also a wonderful poet and creates teeny tiny poems for her teeny tiny press!

Dan Smith of Tether attended the second brainstorming session at The Fremont Abbey and offered "Song of Tent City" a gallery show at Tether Design Gallery in Occidental Square in January 2011. A remarkable offer and extension of community and caring. We are thrilled and preparing.