I will not live in a closet for any reason.

I voted Republican almost a straight ticket for the first time in my life.

I am a progressive artist/writer/activist with an impressive 25+ year record of fighting the good fight on a plethora of issues including abortion clinic escort, rape crisis counselor, regular crisis counselor, a decade in Palestinian Solidarity, holding local police accountable in the shooting of two young black men, homelessness, cannabis and chronic pain advocacy.

In this “stunning and brave” essay I will tell you why I made this decision.

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My first reaction after the 2016 election, after I stopped crying — the tears lasted awhile — was to convene an emotional support group that excluded cis straight white men. Because, of course. …


A New Year’s Resolution and meditation on why danger is important to art

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I just saw the first time Sympathy for the Devil was played live. I highly suggest you stop NOW and watch the video below before reading my essay so you can experience it’s purity and danger before I ruin it by talking about it. I said NOW. You need danger like this in your life. NOW.

This is an incendiary work of art on so many levels, not just for its brilliant lyrics. After it has worn a groove in your soul through hearing it for decades, becoming just another greatest hit, it is hard to imagine the power this song had on its release in the late 60s. …


Nice look comrades, some real solidarity there, you are both fine examples of socialists and a credit to your movement. I can tell by how well you treat the disabled.

I cannot work but that does not mean I do not contribute. In fact, I have lately been covering homelessness on Medium. I am growing food to feed my neighborhood. I have a sterling record of progressive volunteer work. I feel because I am supported by society, I need to give back, with the resources available to me. …


Thurston County faces challenges to homeless response during the COVID-19 crisis

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Scene in downtown Olympia, March 2020. Image courtesy Jacob Stapp.

In a surprise move, Colin De Forrest, the City of Olympia’s Homeless Response Coordinator resigned as of April 12, 2020. City officials say that DeForrest wanted to work closer to his family, avoiding daily commutes from Puyallup. A city representative said there will not be an immediate replacement hired.

DeForrest was brought in to oversee homeless response in Olympia based on his similar work in Tacoma. His salary was partially funded with a $300K grant from local churches, $100K for each of three years. …


The activist group Just Housing, who advocates for what is called Shelter-in-Place as the most cost effective solution to homelessness, may be asking the city for a half million dollars to support unsanctioned homeless camps in Olympia. Shelter-in-Place advocates that the least traumatizing approach to “informal settlements” is to allow the campers to remain on public or private land and have services provided to support them. This also involves “self-government” whereby each community makes a set of rules to abide by.

I found the following document in a FOIA request to the City of Olympia. This was in an email from Tye Gundel of JH to Olympia Council Member Renata Rollins on August 27, 2019, who is also a founding member of the group. This is not legally a conflict of interest, but it does raise questions of coordination, and shows the outsize influence JH has on Olympia’s political landscape when it comes to homelessness. …


City Council sets dangerous precedent in political battle over homelessness

In a surprise move at the September 10th Olympia City Council meeting, Council Member Nathaniel Jones made a last minute motion to delay the planned removal of the 4th Avenue Bridge homeless encampment scheduled for September 11th. Jones claimed that the city had not followed through on promises made to campers. The Council voted 5–1 to allow the camp the stay until a “comparable appropriate alternative” location can be found.

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It is hard not to see this as political theater to boost Jones leadership profile as he challenges current Mayor Cheryl Selby in this fall’s election. Selby was the sole objector to the motion and the manner in which Jones broke protocol presenting it. Jones, claiming politics had nothing to do with his decision, nonetheless handed the encampment a political victory that comes at a cost to the community at large who overwhelmingly backed removal of the camp. …


Tolerance for harm is destroying our city

by Candace Mercer, Olympia, WA

Our regional government has been treating our problems solely as a homeless issue, but it is far greater. It also involves mental illness, substance abuse and crime. Each piece of the problem needs solutions. Housing, especially affordable rent, is a large component, but addiction, an emerging street subculture and law enforcement are factors we have been reticent to address directly as we watch our city decay in real time.

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The 4th Avenue Bridge in downtown Olympia at the foot of Puget Sound is in an environmentally sensitive area. An unsanctioned homeless camp has set up under the bridge. Water testing has revealed fecal coliform bacteria due to untreated human waste. The camp is scheduled for removal on September 11th, some campers have indicated they will refuse to leave.

People are upset about changing norms for what is considered permissible behavior in our community. This is the root of our collective distress and the cause for deep moral reflection. …

About

Candy Mercer

I am an autodidact nonpartisan freethinking board gamer from Olympia, WA. I've read 3000 books, that is 1.5 tons, I did the white math so you won't have to.

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