Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sequim Politics and the Invisible Kid

As I meet with people in power explaining the needs of kids and families in the Sequim community, I have heard over and over again the same questions:

“Where are all these kids you keep talking about?”
“I never see them, are you sure there are that many?”
“I had no idea that problem existed”

At the same time, parents I talk to about the current state of things in Sequim often say the same things:

“Families don’t get their fair share – the old folks get everything in this town”
“I am tired of being an outsider in my own town – it is like I don’t count”

This is a huge problem for kids when it comes time for politicians and government staff to make decisions on who to help, who to listen to and who to think about as they divvy up Community resources. The only have so much money and space. There is competition for the money and the winner is often the group that makes the best, most compelling case that their need is the greatest. When kids and their families are “invisible” in the political process they are going to be overlooked.

One of the biggest success so far at Sequim Family Advocates was coordinating the attendance of so many kids and families at the October Sequim City Council Meeting. It is burned into the memory of the staff and Council. They talk about it often when I meet with them. At Sequim’s City Hall they know that you are committed and have seen the “whites of your eyes”. As we work on the playfield project with them they have a good understanding of who they would be helping if they approve the project.

The funny thing is that there were already decision makers there at the City ready to support our efforts. But without an organized front to push for change, they had nothing to point toward as they pondered sticking their neck out for kids and families. After your large display at City Hall, it became easy for them to push for us and help our cause. By being invisible we cut the knees out from decision makers that are ready and willing to help us. Becoming visible revealed support that was there all the time. Waiting.

The challenge I would put to you is to be as visible as possible to those in power. This is so important I can’t tell you enough. If you want to change the town and better the situation for kids and families – make sure your beliefs are counted. It isn’t enough to complain at the dinner table or to your friends after a practice. It isn’t going to help to name call or grouse. Real political change comes when groups organize and become known to decision makers.

We outnumber most special interest groups that have had great success in our town in the past. When we organize, we become the big deal.

Send a link to this blog to a friend who isn’t on our email list, for example. That is a political activity that will help. You don’t need to organize a rally or spend a bunch of time. Grassroots politics comes down to neighbors joining together for a cause. If you want to make a difference, decide to find five people that want to register with us and become counted as a Sequim Family Advocate.

Have them email sequimfamilies@yahoo.com to register.

Thanks for caring about our town and its future. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Carrie Blake Field Project

Many have asked about where the field project will exactly be located at Carrie Blake. I have posted a copy of the maps - hopefully you can read them ok.

The area is currently unused field grass with a walking trail surrounding it. We will re-locate part fo the existing path and put three large terraced areas inside the walking trail. The terraces will allow for mulitple playfields - including a "Championship" sized soccer field that complies with international standards for field dimensions.

The goals would be movable - much like Sequim Junior Soccer uses now for a few of their fields.

Parking would be accessed of Rhodefer road into a new parking lot or the existing parking lots at the existing playground areas. There is a trail over the creek to the new playfield area.

This project will radically change how the local leagues can practice and play. It should also add enough capacity of playfields in town to induce new leagues to start offering different recreational options (Adult Soccer, lacrosse etc).

Exciting Stuff!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome To Sequim Family Advocates Online!

No place to practice? Crowded fields? Isn't there anything we can do?

Yes, there is something you can do. Sequim Youth Advocates is forming right now to enable effective political activism toward the needs of kids in our town.

The forming of a group of citizens openly working toward advocating the needs of families and children in the Sequim area has been on my heart for years now.

It has become more and more clear in the past few years that a unified block of voting citizens needed to come together to better represent our interests. Other parts of society have done an effective job stating their case to politicians and policy makers in our county. Basically, they get what they want while we make do.

Many of us struggle to keep up with demands of work, family and volunteer commitments. The concept of political activism seems out of reach if it ever crosses our mind in frustration as we watch political decisions made that directly affect our families.

It strikes me that most local politicians do not currently concern themselves much with what families think. The honest political fact is that they haven’t had to care too much.

They will care, however, when we come calling with a unified voice.

We are many - more than they realize. Over 550 kids are playing soccer, over 200 playing football, over 350 play Little League, over 300 play basketball.... The schools are actually growing. We can change things in Clallam County if we work together.

Please contact the email address below to register as a member of our group.

Please spread the word that this group is forming. You can forward the email address sequimfamilies@yahoo.com to your contacts to enable our list of registered supporters to grow.

If you have thoughts, concerns or ideas about the future for kids and families in Sequim please post!

Please remember to refrain from attacking any particular part of society – it is easy to slip into the mode of attacking. I feel your frustration acutely with how things currently sit, but I hope our group can be an example to the kids we advocate with our restrained political activism.

Stand by for more. We will be gathering names in the coming weeks. Won’t it be fun to see this start? Thanks for joining the cause.

Craig Stevenson