In a communications document from early last year, with the header “Winter Into Spring Communications Strategy,” shared in an email by Bellingham Parks and Recreation Director Nicole Oliver, there was an outline point that stated, “Health Dept. recommends no government-run emergency winter shelters in future.”
Subject: Pushing back on the push-back on tiny home villages
Dear Bellingham City Council, Mayor Fleetwood, Whatcom County Council, and County Executive Sidhu:
I recently listened to Bellingham City Council’s Monday, May 24, 2021 Community and Economic Development Committee meeting. I wanted to address comments made by a couple of the City Council Members after Whatcom County Health Department Human Services Manager Anne Deacon gave her presentation. The presentation was on the Health Department’s Recommendations for Consideration by the Homeless Strategies Workgroup that the now-disbanded workgroup had voted to recommend to Whatcom County Council for approval.
“Okay, I’ll just take a quick point of privilege just to say that we absolutely recognize we have the need for shelter, especially – we have it all year round – but especially in the winter months. The group I believe, that Council Member Lilliquist is referring to, is the Homeless Strategies Workgroup. Council Member Barry Buchanan from the County’s side of the street organized that group. Stakeholders, several of us, attend that every two weeks. We take that issue very seriously and we want to come to a resolution on providing safe shelter for our most vulnerable neighbors. So, we absolutely take it very seriously.” – Bellingham City Council Member Dan Hammill
Last night’s Bellingham City Council meeting provided a pretty good lesson in what white fragility does – and doesn’t – look like. To the majority of the Council Member’s credit that night, most of them did not seem to exhibit “discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice,” which is the definition of white fragility offered by Oxford’s Lexico dictionary. But a couple of them did.
This is the final installment of notes on the July 15, 2019 Bellingham City Council Justice Committee meeting regarding immigration issues. The next Justice Committee meeting will occur this Monday, August 19, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in Council chambers. Here is a link for the agenda for that meeting https://meetings.cob.org/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=2059&doctype=1
During Old/New Business at the July 1, 2019 evening Bellingham City Council Meeting, Council Member Hannah Stone made an announcement regarding the formation of a workgroup, connected to the Council’s Justice Committee, focused on immigration issues.
Community members continue to show up weekly to call on our local government agencies to engage with members of the immigrant community, of all statuses, to reduce and hopefully put an end to, the daily fear and apprehension that they endure living under the Trump administration, not to mention the profiling and mistreatment numerous individuals experience at the hands of local officials.
It’s been two full years since the City of Bellingham abruptly pushed aside the Keep Bellingham Families Working ordinance in favor of approving their own ordinance regarding immigrant protection. In all that time there has been no amending of that ordinance or activation of civilian oversight or of a safe space to report discrimination or persecution.
When I received a response email from Bellingham City Council Member Michael Lilliquist today, I had to think hard about whether or not I should publicly remark on it. It’s not like it was, in many ways, remarkable in comparison to the few other email responses I have received from him. In fact, some Bellingham City Council Members do not respond to me – ever – regarding my emails asking them to reach out and develop relationships with frontline and marginalized community members. Most of the time, I don’t even expect them to email me back. I just want them to take action.
Graphics show one postcard front side (top), and multiple reverse/message sides of postcards sent to Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville by community members in June of 2017
May 23, 2018 Dena Jensen
The following report offers information gained through a public records request I made of the City of Bellingham on January 18, 2018.
Protecting vulnerable members of our community is a shared responsibility that none of us should take lightly. As much as government agencies may strive for and purport transparency, it is generally human nature to not be able to recognize our own flaws and, if others point them out, to do our best to excuse them or deny that this flaw, which another person sees, is really there.
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