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This week was packed with talks, excursions, even a midnight premiere, so it has been a fabulous string of days in Jet City. Weather wise, we had a couple thunderstorms and rainy periods, so this week probably gave me a more realistic idea of Seattle weather outside of the summer months. On Tuesday, after work, we all headed to the campus community center to attend a talk by a lobbyist from Solid Ground, a nonprofit whose mission is to undo the root causes of poverty. The woman spoke to us about advocacy training and the structural solutions to eliminate poverty. She elaborated on the different types of political advocacy and levels of public policy advocacy. Regarding poverty, she went into detail about how Solid Ground fights to reconcile systemic discrimination in several areas of society, and improve on how institutions treat minority groups. Her work as a lobbyist involves representing certain groups that may not be heard and hopefully influence politicians in making decisions on policy. For example, she mentioned how she helped a political activist group flip a state congresswoman’s decision by having individuals contact her office nonstop. Her presentation was interesting and informational, as she encouraged us to stay engaged and continue to ask questions about institutional structures.
On Wednesday night, around ten of us attended another soccer match. This, however, was not a regular season MLS game, but rather a preseason friendly against the Chelsea Blues. So, right after work, we all hopped on a bus, and headed over to CenturyLink Field. The match was quite an opportunity, as there are hardly any chances for Americans to see live matches of teams from across the pond. Although the Chelsea squad wasn’t in top form, the match was very entertaining. Both teams went heavily into the bench to feature players for the fans. To see Chelsea’s new signings was fun and some players in particular were really lively, engaging, and had quality performances. Chelsea kept losing possession and was sloppy on defense, letting the Sounders score two goals. On the other hand, they did score four goals in the first half, with their first happening in the third minute. For Sounders fans, the rest of the season looks bright, as both forwards played well, especially Freddy Montero, who scored both goals for the Sounders. The attendance at the friendly was 53, 309, which didn’t fill the entire stadium, but is a good sign that soccer is alive and growing in the United States. I think we all enjoyed being part of the Sounders fan base one more time.
Thursday after work, I walked downtown (downtown traffic is terrible during peak hours so buses aren’t very fast) to visit the office of Seattle newspaper and nonprofit, Real Change. Founder Tim Harris told us about the story of Real Change and of his inspirations that led to helping the homeless. Real Change seeks to aid homeless and low-income individuals in Seattle by giving them newspapers at low cost, which they can sell for $1 each and can keep all their profits. Selling newspapers offers people a sense of accomplishment and purpose while providing a way to generate income. Also, Harris went on further to discuss topics including the role of government and how certain policies have affected the lives of homeless people. Although Real Change is a relatively small operation, Harris has a passion for helping people and hopes to expand further out in Seattle.
It is amazing how the program will be ending in three weeks and I feel as if I’ve barely gotten to understand this city and its inhabitants. I’m beginning to feel that I am running out of time to visit neighborhoods and attractive destinations. Hopefully, that sense of urgency will push me to continue exploring and maximize my time here.