Libraries and the Homeless
This was originally posted as a comment on an Olyblog thread by Crenshaw Sepulveda, but I thought it deserved its own thread, so I have reposted it here:
For as long as there have been public libraries the libraries have provided refuge for the homeless. A truly democratic government service, the public libraries serve all that avail themselves of their services. One simply has to enter the library to be entitled to the services it provides.
Service to the homeless has gone hand in hand with the provision of library service. This is not their mission, to be sure, but maybe it is time the library realizes that this has been an untended part of their mission for over a century. As a former library professional I fully understand how libraries have approached the homeless in the past. Libraries realize they will serve many of the homeless. They also want to mitigate the impact of the homeless on the service whenever possible. Many libraries institute rules directly to mitigate and govern the behaviors of the homeless. For instance a library might prohibit large backpacks from the library. This is something many of the homeless have. The impact of the rule is that the homeless with the backpack will be reluctant to use the library if they have to leave their pack unattended. To be sure a large and cumbersome backpack might provide some minor hazard to other library users in a crowded environment, but the net effect is to prohibit such homeless from the library. There are many other examples, but you get the point.
What libraries have to do now, and in the future, is to embrace their role as providers of services to the homeless. No more punitive rules to keep the homeless from the services. But they must do more. How much would it add to the construction of a library to provide a Urban RestStop on the grounds, an Urban RestStop being public showers, laundry, safe storage of belongings, at the minimum. The URS could be staffed by volunteers.
Public libraries must embrace their role in services to homeless. Libraries need to stay open longer. I know for many of the homeless the worst hours they face are the hours after the library is closed. As a government agency the library has proven to be the most empowering of any govermental agency, with out a doubt. Let us see the library become more inclusive and embrace their role as being a positive force in the lives of the homeless.
"I would make it impossible for the covetous and avaricious to utterly impoverish the poor. The rich can take care of themselves."
Last night at the General Government committee meeting, another topic brought up by Jodi Reng, library director for the Timberland system, was the possibility of placing a couple of library service kiosks around town. That would take pressure off of the downtown branch.
My initial thought would be to put kiosks in the two high schools in Olympia. Both are far enough from the downtown library to provide geographic diversity, and as you'll read below, I think there is something awfully cool about libraries and schools coming together.
Kiosks are basicaly mini-libraries that have been succesfully used throughout the system in non-library settings:
"The kiosk will provide Timberland Library services to both the Center’s students and Hawks Prairie area residents," said TRL Director, Jodi Reng. "Developed and designed by TRL’s Computer Services staff, the kiosk is the first stand-alone library services station to combine a library catalog and information computer with a self-checkout station. It’s efficient and economical," said Reng. The cost for the two-station kiosk was a little under $5,000.
Timberland library services available at the Kiosk
TRL cardholders can:
Place holds on Timberland library books and other library materials and request delivery to the Hawks Prairie Center.
Pick up and self-check out the materials that have arrived for them.
Return TRL materials in the book drop outside the Center’s main entrance.
Check their library card accounts, including the status of materials they have reserved.
Search the TRL catalog for books, DVDs, music and audio book CDs and cassettes, and more.
Search full-text magazine and newspaper articles and reliable reference resources.
Briggs Urban Village
I am interested to see what happens with the Briggs Urban Village. The 810-home development will have a grocery store, and a cute little pretend "downtown" area, and a 6-acre preserved nature area along Ward lake. (Does this mean the public will finally be able to swim there again? It used to be such a great swimming spot.)
Also, I am wondering what will happen to the Chambers Prairie Grange in all of this. Its been shut down for a while and is in need of fixing up, but it is a great grange with a kitchen and dance floor. I've been wondering if anyone was going to buy it and make it into something cool.
I must admit, I wanted to hate the idea of the Briggs village just out of principle. I mean, how can housing developments be a good thing? But I looked at the Briggs website and the plans are far superior to regular housing tracts.
Condominiums, duplexes, townhouses, and single family homes are all included, with preserved "open spaces", an old-fashioned, commmon sense idea that is now considered revolutionary and new.
There will be no apartments or affordable homes. Everything there will be exorbitantly expensive. In fact, those of us who are renters and not yet rich should probably just leave the county now, as we will probably never be able to buy in our hometown. However, it will not be gated, and the developer said, rather ironically, "This is a welcoming community."
Here is what I don't understand: why is the city in support of development of new mixed-use neighborhoods when our existing neighborhoods have zoning that makes commercial development and higher density housing so difficult to create? Is the council looking into changing our residential zoning? They should.
I really hope this place doesn't end up looking like Disneyland. Like New York City: its a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
Site Temporarily Neglected
The Olyblog Candidate's Platform
I've started to collect the great ideas that people have proposed [on Olyblog] on a single page that someone new to the site could easily access. I'm working off memory for the most part, so I need some help to make sure we got all the good stuff that has been discussed on the blog. I'm thinking mainly about long-term ideas such as infrastructure improvement or better tools for building community (but I'm open to other suggestions). You can see what I've pulled together so far here.
Nazi Rally Surreal
If you didn't make it to Monday's National Socialist Movement white power rally in Olympia, you missed out on a surreal experience. The rally was advertised on the NSM website as being a HUGE all West Coast nazi meet-up. They boasted a sound system that would be heard in Tacoma. The picture above literally shows what the scene was like. A dozen nazis in full WW2 regalia, awkwardly adjusting their formation and whispering to one another, surrounded by a barricade built for them by the state, 150
feet of "protective" space, and 275 state troopers in riot gear guarding them. What you can't see in the photo are the several hundred counter-protesters. Scary people. Sunhats, batiked dresses, percussion instruments, pictures of Ghandi, clowns. I would have wanted riot police too.
The clowns seemed almost superfluous, as the nazis did such a good job of mocking themselves. It turned out their sound system could not be heard in Tacoma. In fact it could scarcely be heard over the counter-protest's kazoo band.
Not only did they convince the state that they needed this excessive show of security, but they also were furnished with private public transportation. Did you know such a thing existed? Neither did we, but apparently it does for white supremacists!
And as critical as I am about the taxpayer expense of private buses to and from the Washington state capital for a dozen fringe extremists, I wonder if it might not be a good strategy for getting better public transportation in this town. Could we, for instance, call Intercity Transit and say: "I am going to be going to the Brotherhood Tavern on monday for the Tune Stranglers show. I will be carrying a large swastika flag. Do you think you could arrange a ride for me? And
maybe some armed escorts as well?"
After all, its tough being a white supremacist. People are always trampling all over your rights just because you believe in genocide and aryan world domination. White guys need a lot of protection in this cruel world.
What was almost as unexpected as the incredible government indulgence of this event was the way the neonazis talked. I was entirely unprepared for this aspect. They used their eeeeviiilest super villian voices. They screamed growlingly into the microphone(think 70's demonic movies) things like, "Cowards! Cowards! Cowards! We are recruiting thousands of white youth! Our army is growing! We will take this city, this state, this world!" Wa ha ha ha ha. Very strange.
They were so theatrical that I thought they must be engaged in some kind of bizarre
performance art. The only one that was at all believable as a real neonazi was Justin Boyer. He
didn't use some silly voice, he just looked scared sh*tless. I actually felt bad for him. I am not saying that just to insult him. It was already pretty pitiful with the 12 of them and the riot police and all, but when Justin started to speak, all shifting and stuttering, it was so uncomfortable that even the counter-protesters got kind of quiet.
The entire rally was basically an embarrassment to the Nazis, the state of Washington government, and every Olympia local who witnessed it.
I think it might have been a lot better on LSD, though.
On Tuesday, the NSM was asked by a reporter about how they felt about the huge show of opposition to their cause by the Olympia community. They merely stated, "We'll get you next time, Olympia!!!!!!" as they roared away on their Nazi-cycles.
A Conversation with my Six-year-old
Because there are some people who think they are better than other people just because
people aren't white or are Jewish, and they're going to have a rally here.
Or because they're brown?
And those people are the nazis.
Yes. How did you know that?
I've heard people talking about it.
What do you think about that?
I don't like that they are doing that. Because I'm brown, and I feel good of myself! And I love my mommy and I would be lonely without her, and she's white and I'm brown! You would miss me too, if I was gone from you, right?
Yes. Very much. You are the perfect daughter for me.
I don't like the feeling of people saying they are better than me because I'm brown.
...So that's why we are going to this event. To say no to the nazis and their rally.
Yes! Say no to the nazis! ...Will ___ [Caucasian friend] and her mom be there? Do they like the nazis?
No. They will be there to say no to the nazis. No one that we know likes the nazis. Everyone who we are friends with says no to the nazis.
Especially ___[Native American friend].