Friday, September 26, 2008

150 Pink Tents in Seattle

The front pages of the newspaper or the top stories on the internet are all about the economy; which is taking a serious dive. But, in the midst of all this bad news, some pink tents have sprung up in the city of Seattle. These pink tents are making a statement, a message that should not be overlooked because of our economy.

It seems that homeless advocates bought and rasied the tents, along with a sign that calls this encampment: Nickelsville. For those of you who don't live in Seattle, it won't have meaning, but Seattlites know that this refers to the Seattle mayor, Greg Nickels.

Homeless advocates recognize that Mayor Nickels is not their friend, and are linking Nickels to the depression-era Hooversville wooden and tin shantytowns. Seattle had one in the 1930's, which was twice burned by the city and twice rebuilt by residents.

So, why the pink tents and the sign now?

It's because Nickels is making life increasingly harder for those that are homeless. Their ability to gather, to sleep in parks, to receive food from organizations or individuals who come to offer their compassion, is being thwarted.

I spoke to one man who has gone downtown every Saturday morning for years who is told that he can no longer show up without a permit. And, that permit granting is becoming increasingly difficult and very expensive.

It's easy to turn away from this issue, until you meet a homeless person and hear their story. Aaron Colyer, 28, is one of the residents of Nickelsville. His story is that he is not seeking a confrontation but shelter. He lives on $339 a month of state assistance given to those deemed unemployable because of a physical or mental illness. Aaron's story includes a mother who died of cirrhosis of the liver when he was six, never knowing his dad, and being molested in his youth. His belongings in his tent included just a sweatshirt and a tent, and not much else.

Jesus didn't ignore those on the fringes of society, and we mustn't either. Remember his words in Matthew 25: if you give a homeless person a drink of water, a meal or a pink tent, you are giving it to me. I wonder which tent we could find Jesus residing in: perhaps all of them!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story and your interest in the homelss. You are absolutelty right, Jesus was homeless, and had a lot to say about helping the poor, the widow, the orphan, and those in physical as well as spiritual imprisonment. I recently started Outdie the Box Ministries in Seattle,WA as a response to my faith and my experiences being homeless. You can check out more at