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Why Seattle Needs an Income Tax

Why Seattle Needs an Income Tax

Thirsty Thursday blog post in the house! #knowledgeresponsibly

Next Monday, July 10th, the City Council will vote on an ordinance considering a city-wide income tax on our wealthiest residents. Now, I hear you, you don’t want more taxes! You have the highest rents in the world, the most regressive tax system in America, not to mention that you have to sell a limb to pay for each year of college. This tax, however, will start addressing some of these issues.

By taxing the highest earners in the city – those who earn more than $250,000 a year – the city will be able to generate more than $125 million in revenue. This tax will reverse the regressive path that our state have taken. We will take the burden off of low-income folks and start paying for our services more fairly. As we determine how the tax revenue will be used, it is our job to make it go towards issues that young people care about: debt-free community college, rent control, homelessness etc. We at the Washington Bus have been working tirelessly to make sure that happens, lobbying city council members, testifying at committee meetings, and informing y’all about the income tax that could actively combat these problems!

Young people in Seattle are struggling economically, and it is unfair to exacerbate the situation by forcing students to choose between attaining their education and staying afloat financially.

Those who prioritize their education are shackled with years of interest payments and are paying off these loans for decades. Even with successful and stable careers, these loans continue to drain funds from individuals. This prevents them from devoting portions of their income to savings, retirement plans, homes, and their families. Not to mention being strapped for cash means no opportunities for fun, and everyone deserves the chance to kick back and have a fun night in the city.

Isabelle & Sophia in front of City Hall after meeting with Councilmember Herbold about the income tax.

As two young adults growing up in Seattle, we have recently made trips to city hall where we were significantly outnumbered by people triple our age. This blatant disparity emphasizes how desperately we need young people to turn out for votes, meetings and town halls. Show your support on Monday at 2 p.m. and come to city hall and show support for the council vote on the ordinance! Your engagement and passion will change this city for decades to come and we would love to witness your power.

This blog post was written by Isabelle Yuan and Avidan Baral, the Bus’s 2 Summer Interns!

Introducing the Bustice League!

Introducing the Bustice League!

This week’s Hella Bus Blog Thirsty Thursday blog post comin’ at ya! #knowledgeresponsibly

We’ve got big news coming out of Buslandia, a place where dreams come true. Do you dream of 100% youth voter turnout? Do you want to befriend other rad civically engaged young people? Do you wish you could be a real-life superhero? Whatever your dream is, we’re proud to announce The Bustice League™, our brand spankin’ new volunteer program created with the stuff that dreams are made of.

Members of the Bustice League are the super-volunteers that help our voter registration and campaign work succeed. Super-volunteers commit to a certain number of volunteer hours per month. The opportunities are varied and endless–you could register voters at Bumbershoot, testify at city council, create a zine, or help out around the office. Joining the Bustice League gets you access to #firstdibs at music festival volunteer shifts, bus swag, an opportunity to build up your organizing skills, and of course, a once in a lifetime chance to change the world.

The Bustice League is an extension of our leadership development programs, seasonal internship, and sister organization’s summer fellowship. The Bustice League is open to people of all ages and experience levels. Have you already completed our fellowship program and want to get back on the Bus? Join the Bustice League! Did you just find out about us at Seattle Pride and want to learn more about volunteering? Join the Bustice League! We’ll have fun and meaningful ways for everyone to join.

As staff members, we commit to investing in you and your growth as a young political organizer with a passion for justice. We’ll also plan regular social events (happy hour, anyone?) for Bustice League members.
If you like what you’ve read so far and want to become a defender of democracy, an advocate for justice, and a mighty political organizer, you should join the Bustice League! Come to our official launch party at the Washington Bus office in Pioneer Square on July 6 from 6-8 pm. We’ll bring the snacks, and you can bring your friends. Deal? Check out the Facebook event here and don’t forget to RSVP! If you can’t come to the launch party, but want to learn more about joining the Bustice League, shoot me an e-mail at sophia@washingtonbus.org.

This blog post was written by Sophia Hoffacker, the Bus’s own Field Coordinator.

Busquatch 2017!

Busquatch 2017!

Welcome to the first installation of the Hella Bus Blog’s Thirsty Thursday blog post! #knowledgeresponsibly

 

Memorial day weekend the Bus was out in force at the one, the only, SASQUATCH! In addition to watching some incredible music and getting gnarly tank top tans, we talked to thousands of young people about the importance of civic engagement and registered voters in the sun! Check out some highlights below.

 

Bus squad rolled deep with 5 staff members, 3 interns, and 8 rockstar volunteers (shoutout to former Bus staffer Sonny and the Service Board folks who combined forces with us for the ultimate #SQUADGOALS)! We registered 85 voters and collected 301 Pledge to Vote cards in just 3 short (jk, like the longest) days, and had great conversations with young people from around the state. Meeting young people where they are works – we got 154 new volunteer sign-ups from people who are stoked to take their civic engagement to the next level and hop on the Bus with us!!

Not to mention Vote Bot was on AT LEAST 50 people’s snapchat stories…

Stories from the ‘Squatch…

Making connections.

“I was registering someone to vote and later found out that she went to Evergreen College. We chatted a bit about a situation happening on campus where students of color are experiencing racism and we talked about the importance of campus organizing which was awesome. I tried to connect her with a former fellow on campus so hopefully they link up!” – Alisha, Fellowship Coordinator

Music magic. 

“Chance the Rapper has literally changed my life. I am completely obsessed with his wholesome, woke, whimsical style and I am a better person now that I listen to him. I wrangled everyone in our group to run down to the mosh pit after the Shins’ set and wait for Chance to come on for almost 2 hours. And it was worth it. I smiled, I danced, I sang along, I screamed, I ugly cried (multiple times) and I am so happy that I got the opportunity to see Chance live!!!” – Sophia, Field Coordinator

All the good feelings.

“Sasquatch was such a great opportunity for staff, interns, and volunteers to connect with young people from around Washington State. We are activating young people and creating opportunities for conversations around issues that impact young people!” – Lily, Field & Outreach Coordinator

Expanding our reach.

“It was incredible that the Bus had the opportunity to register individuals from across the state and not just the Seattle area. Because of our location, it can be incredibly hard to find voters outside of western Washington, and so Sasquatch was a great way for us to build a statewide presence and not just a regional one.” – Sean, Field Organizer

Changing the narrative.

“I tried to register a guy to vote and when I asked if he wanted to register he said he “didn’t want to be a part of the establishment.” We had a super real conversation about the fact that people in power don’t want young people to vote and that by saying he doesn’t want to register because he doesn’t want to be a part of the establishment had the opposite effect of what he intended. By not registering, he was doing what “the establishment” wanted which is a lack of involvement to protect the status quo. I talked with him about the Bus’ work and why we think it’s important for young people to vote to take back our democracy. He didn’t register with me that day, but he promised he would consider it and we fist bumped and went about our day. I really appreciated how real he was with me and how he took the time to hear what I had to say and I could tell by talking to him I had opened his mind a bit more than it was before.” – Alisha, Fellowship Coordinator

Every year at Sasquatch is fulfilling, exhausting, and a total blast. We so appreciate being able to be involved in the music and arts community to make sure young people know about the Bus!

And now, for a dance break…

On Community Leaders and Heroes

On Community Leaders and Heroes

Gordon Hirabayashi (acttheatre.org)

On Tuesday night, we went to the ACT Theater to see Hold These Truths, a play about Gordon Hirabayashi, one of the few people who resisted against Japanese internment during WWII. The show forced us to confront some uncomfortable truths – the failure of our country to uphold its values, the gross hypocrisy of our government leaders, and the human toll of all of this on Japanese Americans. It was about principles, and more importantly, the courage of the man who maintained them, even in the face of extreme difficulty and injustice. The play allowed me to reflect on my own values, and whether I would uphold them during such difficult times.

Donnie Chin (The International Examiner)

Recently, the International District lost a beloved community leader and hero, Donnie Chin. Much like Hirabayashi, Donnie was a man of values. Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to making his community safe. Donnie was the founder and director of the International District Emergency Center – a community-run safety patrol. He spent his nights watching for crime in the neighborhood, and providing emergency care to those who waiting for an ambulance. “He was like a real life superhero,” Sonny Nguyen recalled, as he told a story in which Donnie helped evacuate an entire building from a fire before the Seattle Fire Department arrived. Last week, we saw more than two hundred community members come together in a barbecue celebrating his life. I was moved by the many lives he has touched, and the compassion and kindness that he embodied.

As we come to a close to our time in Seattle, we have certainly learned a lot about the issues that the city faces. However, more importantly, we have learned about the incredible people and non-profit organizations that stand up to these issues. The work that these organizations do is not easy, but at the end of the day, their passion and courage help sustain their causes even during the most challenging of times.

This blog post was written by Allen, a rising senior at Duke University and the Bus’ 2015 DukeEngage Intern.

Americans with Disabilities Act, 25th Anniversary @ Westlake

Americans with Disabilities Act, 25th Anniversary @ Westlake

On July 22nd, Seattle celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in Westlake. The first part of the event was devoted to the recognition of donors, sponsors, volunteers, and speakers, and the second half was devoted to a rally.

Over ten organizations volunteered, and the event was sponsored by a number of corporations, government affiliates, and independent donors (I.e. SPD, City Council, the City of Bellevue, Starbucks, Boeing-which-did-not-show-up, etc.).

The Executive Director of the Washington State Independent Living Council (WASILC), Emilio Vela Jr., stated that his favorite part of the event was recognizing those affected by disabilities—he pointed to one fellow stating, “This guy right here was one of the first guys to go to college in Kansas and make a case for accessible entrances, transportation, and walkways.” He further argued, “disability rights are civil rights… it’s about independent living; working and residing where xtyou want, using public transportation, whether you’re deaf or blind or a wheelchair user.”

One speaker evocatively explained how she had developed a debilitating, “invisible,” disability, or a crippling anxiety disorder, and was able to benefit from the ADA  in ways previously thought unimaginable. She claimed, “If it were not for the ADA, [the act] which told my family and my friends, and frankly me, that having a disability is nothing to be ashamed of, I would still be governed by my disability today.” Instead, she is making a difference in Washington State, by servicing those living with disabilities, and engaging folks on the importance of the ADA across the state. Her story dually speaks to the ADA’s protections for those living with mental illness.

Several politicians spoke to the importance of the ADA. Patty Murray, a Washington senator strongly in support of disability rights at both the state and national levels, left an audio message. She stated, “We have so much to celebrate today, but we must also think about what more can be done.” Murray is working to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) so that students with disabilities have the opportunity to “work and grow and thrive,” in an increasingly inclusive environment.

On a beautiful sunny day, the ADA was celebrated in a crowded city square—visible, potent, and necessary.

This blog post was written by Natalie, a Public Policy major at Duke University and the Bus’ 2015 DukeEngage Intern.

Plymouth Housing: A Landing Site for the Homeless

Plymouth Housing: A Landing Site for the Homeless

Last Saturday, we had the opportunity to visit Plymouth Housing Group, an organization that serves some of the most disadvantaged homeless adults in Seattle. During this visit, we learned about the organization’s unique approach towards tackling homelessness.

Plymouth operates under a “housing first” philosophy, which focuses first on bringing people off the streets and into stable and permanent homes. This means that individuals who often have no other options for housing – drug addicts, the chronically ill, and the disabled – can find a home at Plymouth. By lowering the barriers to housing, and accepting those who are struggling the most, Plymouth acknowledges the challenges that come with homelessness and aims to tackle the issue at its core.

What struck me the most was the extent to which Plymouth went to try to make their tenants feel at home. As part of our visit, we helped make welcome posters and calendars for new residents, to provide a more welcoming and comfortable touch to their new homes. The idea is that by prolonging their stay, tenants will have greater opportunities to seek the supportive services that they need and build towards a better and more stable life.

Image taken from www.plymouthhousing.org

So far, the hard work seems to have paid off. According to Winona Caruthers, the Community Engagement & Housing Stability Coordinator, nearly 98% of tenants remain with Plymouth after one year. Today, Plymouth is serving more than 1000 formerly-homeless people in its facilities.

However, there is still much work to be done. The problem of homelessness remains rampant in Seattle, with nearly 4000 people still living on the streets – a 20% increase from 2014. At Plymouth, waitlists extend through several years, and have even closed. This poses many questions: Are we taking the right approach? Are we tackling homelessness at its source? What is the source? The city and non-profits certainly have a complex problem to address. Whatever the answer may be, volunteering at Plymouth has shown me the value of incorporating kindness and humanity into this solution.

This blog post was written by Allen, a rising senior at Duke University and the Bus’ 2015 DukeEngage Intern.