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Gimme shelter — Thoughts on the theme — November/December 2021

Whether it’s permanent refuge for undocumented immigrants, sustainable housing for low-income people, creating zones of protection from electromagnetic frequencies, or making sure habitats remain intact for native species, contributors to our theme of “Gimme Shelter” make it clear they understand the primacy of shelter and that safe haven is the right of all sentient beings.

If only so much of it didn’t come down to money. As our front-page articles make clear, there’s a lot of it flying around these days. Veteran reporter Bethany Weidner labored mightily to uncover how local and county officials plan to allocate the $82 million coming in two installments under the American Rescue Plan Act, but it’s still far from clear.

Admittedly, budgets of this magnitude are challenging, especially when projects in multiple jurisdictions overlap and the parameters for eligible uses are open to interpretation. Maybe that’s why Olympia appears to have decided that soliciting input from its residents about how to spend their $9.2 million was unnecessary. By contrast, Thurston County is inviting community participation through various organizations, social media platforms and surveys.

Residents might want to consider giving the county some feedback about the millions earmarked for the Economic Development Council. The EDC’s raison d’etre is to steer commercial, real estate and industry investors toward profitable investments in a constantly changing marketplace, but as Esther Kronenberg implies in her cover story on the EDC’s recent overview of economic trends in Puget Sound, those investments often benefit the few at the expense of the many. With this public-private entity charged with handling millions in taxpayer-supplied ARP funds, who know how they will use the money? Where is the transparency? Where is the accountability?

The writers at GuerrillaThink Press have a few things to say about traditional economics in their page 4 article on innovative approaches to fundraising for low-income housing that sidestep financial middlemen. While most of us are still trying to get a handle on cryptocurrency and tokenized transactions, GuerrillaThink pushes us to get comfortable with NFTs, cooperativism and mutual aid to build resilient housing that addresses the needs of our most vulnerable—instead of yet another luxury apartment building using developer tax exemptions. Talk about economic trends!

Dan Leahy takes a hard look at just how much real estate is devoted to low-income housing in Thurston County. You guessed it: not much. A tangled maze involving a Reagan-era tax credit program, the economic crash of 2008, cuts from the Trump administration, questionable decisions by local governments and the perennial greed of corporate players has resulted in no new low-income housing since 2017.

We know what you’re thinking. What is it with WIP and their relentless coverage of disturbing local news? We offer two points in our defense: first, someone’s gotta do it! Second, it ain’t all bad. Exhibit One is our coverage of the new book commemorating the PNW’s own Woodstock, the Satsop River Fair. Who knew Eric Clapton, Eric Burdon, Albert Collins and Steve Miller performed there in 1971? You heard it in WIP first (unless you were there, that is).

Exhibit Two is Charlotte Persons’ article on the imminent adoption of the Habitat Conservation Plan, which will help preserve Washington prairie land and the endangered species who call it home. The frogs and butterflies, sparrows and gophers who’ll benefit from the plan aren’t just cute critters at the edge of extinction. They’re not even merely vital to soil aeration, pollination, and animal food webs. They’re indicators of viability. If they’re gone, humans aren’t far behind.

During this winter season, may warm homes and safe haven be found for all creatures great and small.


This month’s digitally drawn cover art is by Anh Nguyen. Inspired by the Gimme Shelter theme, Nguyen, a senior in fine arts at the University of Washington, based the drawing on a Google street view of the Capitol building grounds.


Upcoming themes

January: Where do we find light?

It’s dark out there but the light hasn’t gone away. Can you see it yet? What helps you navigate dark times? Deadline: December 17

February: Grifters, Moochers & Lovers.

Dark players don’t take a holiday on Valentine’s Day but lots of regular folx keep their love light burning all year long. Is anyone watching out for us or are we always being played? Where does love fit in when so many messages tell us just to look out for number one? Deadline: January 17

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...a happy ending! ...never-ending ...never enough?