Yesterday my blog had 1,333 visitors. It was a bizarre spike. I'm usually more like 200. Brenden Foster, the homeless-supporting dying eleven year-old with leukemia, died. There was a resurgence of international media attention, and my blog entry on Brenden, now considerably further down on the Google listing, caught just part of the wave.
I was going to write about Brenden and the dozens of comments on the blog (most of which were disturbingly similar), but was saved from the task by this letter, sent to Real Change by one Michael Trepp, a man I don't know from Adam. Michael gets it. Lot's of people get it. It's kind of obvious when you think about it.
A couple of weeks ago I emailed Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata. I informed him that I thought that Mayor Nickels primary failure, concerning the homeless of Seattle, was one of attitude. I told Licata that I did not expect Nickels (or the rest of Seattle government) to have all the answers or to provide all of the solutions.
I had noticed, that when a hard fall rain is about to hit Seattle, Mayor Nickels (via a spokesperson on the tv news) has no problem asking the people of Seattle for help. He had asked us to make sure our storm drains are clear, because its a job that is much too big for city government to handle on its own. I told Licata that I had never seen our Mayor make a similar effort on behalf of the homeless. I had never seen Nickels come before the local tv news audience, asking the people of Seattle, to do what we can to help. The residents of Nickelsville have a more first hand experience, in that, Mayor Nickels could have done something positive to help them establish a permanent (but hopefully not eternal), well run, community supported shantytown (in the model of Portland's Dignity Village), within the Seattle city limits. Instead Nickels chose to harass them and chase them from location to location. He might have earned a name change had he done something to help, but instead, the Nickelsville name stands as a shameful reminder of his initial actions towards this homeless community.
Now, anyone paying attention knows, that Nickels is not entirely responsible for the economic hard times facing the people of Seattle - there is a nationwide increase in hard times and in homelessness. We've had one of the most sorry excuses ever for a president during the past eight years, and there has been a huge vacuum of any real leadership in congress as well. However, when a problem/challenge like Nickelsville comes along, a good leader should, like a good doctor, first do no harm. Then that person would, seeing the immensity of the problem, ask for help from anyone and everyone that he/she could ask, knowing that he/she could never do it on his/her own.
In the case of Nickelsville, Mayor Nickels did not do this. But a young child did. A few days ago there was a KOMO TV News story about eleven year old Brenden Foster, who was moved by the plight facing the people of Nickelsville. Brenden is dying of leukemia, but he is still full of compassion for others, including those who have no place to call home. Because Brendan himself is unable to go and help care for the homeless of Nickelsville, he has asked all of us to do it for him. A dying child succeeds where Mayor Nickels fails. Not in answers or in achievement, but in attitude and effort.