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Thu May 28, 2020, 10:24 AM

A Square Mile of "Ready for Anything"

from YES! Magazine:

A Square Mile of “Ready for Anything”
“When you have humans and you have heart, you’re pretty much used to doing what you have to do to make things happen.”


When Seattle Public Schools announced it was suspending classes in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Lashanna Williams naturally thought about the children in her South Park neighborhood.

About 90% qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school. And while the district would provide students with sack lunches during the school closures, that still meant some would be missing that important first meal of the day.

So Williams came up with a plan to offer community breakfasts—scrambled eggs and pancakes, mostly. (She learned soon enough that nobody wanted oatmeal.) In her driveway she set up a tent, tables, hot plates, a griddle. When owners of the popular neighborhood coffee shop, Resistencia Coffee, learned what she was doing, they offered her their space, insisting when she demurred. Uncle Eddie’s sandwich shop, before it closed, gave Williams the meat from its freezer and more people than she could reasonably accommodate signed up to help set up, distribute food, and clean up afterward.

By the time Gov. Jay Inslee ordered residents to shelter in place less than two weeks later, Williams had already pivoted, organizing a network of food stands and sharing tables in neighbors’ driveways—some of them operating 24 hours a day—so people could get supplies anytime they needed them. Fresh produce. Non-perishables. Toys. Books. Toilet paper. Donations, she says, came in “Bernie Sanders-style”— small contributions of as little as $2—from across the country, but many from right there in the neighborhood.

In this gritty, square-mile pocket south of Seattle, residents created a GoFundMe account to help pay rent for neighbors who had lost their jobs when businesses closed following the coronavirus outbreak. They began communal grocery shopping in the neighborhood, where there are few fresh food markets, and a barter system has emerged for people to exchange what extras they have. .................(more)


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