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.


  1. Well put Craig. Thanks for your great efforts.

    As we take on this issue of much needed field space, know that the needs of families go beyond playing fields in Sequim. Craig has correctly kept the focus singular to this point as too many goals at the onset would likely dilute our effort for the playfields. For those of you who have stated your desires to take on other challenges, we will continue on after our first hurdle is realized. Some of the issues mentioned: improved support for Boys and Girls Club, a local government that will attract much needed family wage jobs to Sequim, a more kid friendly SARC, a more kid and family friendly Sunland HOA, more free activities/sports available to young people in our existing parks, better support for our schools through our school levies, a way to invite and organize talented retirees in our area to mentor our youth, etc.

    We will hopefully use this blog to keep the ideas flowing and will look to this group to be active in our pursuit for our family friendly Sequim. I look forward to doing my part.

    Please invite as many people, of all ages and walks of life, to this group.

  2. Great job Craig! Thanks for your dedicated effort.