PACIFIC NORTHWEST MAGAZINE: HELL ON WHEELS


Researchers say something as simple as a couch dumped in a roadside ditch can send shudders of curiosity – and delays – through traffic.


“Traffic is filled with people who think the roads belong only to them, that being inside the car absolves them from any obligations to anyone else,” says Tom Vanderbilt, author of the 2008 book “Traffic.” Such attitudes are one reason our streets feel less civil and conflict seems to be rising.


Richard Dyksterhuis lives in the Bitter Lake neighborhood and advocates for sidewalks in parts of Northwest Seattle he calls “LOST” for Lesser Outer Seattle Territories. He wants to “complete” Linden Avenue North and other important streets by adding curbs, planting strips (“twin barriers against traffic”) and 7-foot-wide sidewalks.


Mayor Mike McGinn’s transportation initiative says we’re “overly reliant” on cars and should make walking, biking and riding transit the “easiest ways to get around.” The mayor says he doesn’t hate cars. But “I’ll own up,” he admits, “to being hostile to this tunnel consortium that’s pushing this project for profit at the expense of community.”


Rana Levy, 25, a Los Angeles transplant, says she feels comfortable biking around Seattle. “Women are kind of an indicator species on bike-friendliness,” adds Mia Birk, Portland’s former bike coordinator. Make cycling safer and more women will bike. Testosterone levels go down, civility up.


Our rush-hour traffic ranks fourth worst in the country, says digital mapping company Navteq. Only New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco are worse.

SEATTLE NO PANTS! LIGHT RAIL RIDE


Participants wait at the Columbia City light rail stop during Emerald City Improv’s second annual Seattle No Pants! Light Rail Ride.


A participant salutes during Emerald City Improv’s second annual Seattle No Pants! Light Rail Ride.


Nate Strong, 26, picks up his belongings at the light rail stop during Emerald City Improv’s second annual Seattle No Pants! Light Rail Ride.

URBAN FARMING: DUCKS


BJ Hedahl says her ducks aren’t a lot of trouble. “They’re lower maintenance than chickens and I think (the eggs) taste better.” Hedahl currently hosts workshops showing locals how to raise ducks in their yards.


BJ Hedahl raises two types of domesticated ducks, khaki Campbells and Indian runners, in her backyard in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood. The colorful duck eggs sell for $6 a dozen out of her home.


BJ Hedahl says duck eggs are richer, denser, with yolks bigger than your chicken variety.


Khaki Campbells and Indian runners, both varieties of domesticated ducks, are a tad skiddish if you get too close.


A young Humboldt penguin, who hatched in February, swims for the first time inside the Woodland Park Zoo’s public outdoor exhibit Monday, May 9, 2011 in Seattle. Five new chicks were introduced the rest of the colony on Monday, and now can be seen in their 17,000-square-foot habitat that replicates the Punta San Juan coast in Peru. Two small bands on the young birds’ wings can identify them from their elders.


A young Humboldt penguin, who hatched in February, swims inside the Woodland Park Zoo’s public outdoor exhibit Monday, May 9, 2011 in Seattle.


A young Humboldt penguin stretches at the Woodland Park Zoo Monday, May 9, 2011 in Seattle. Humboldt penguins are an endangered species, and are native to South America.


A three-month-old Humboldt penguin swims underwater Monday, May 9, 2011 in Seattle. According to the Woodland Park Zoo website, Humboldt penguins are endangered due to human involvement. Their nests, made of guano, are considered a valuable fertilizer, and are disturbed and destroyed during the nesting season. Offshore fishing in South America also affects the birds, as well as oil spills, tourism and introduced predators.


With its head above water, a three-month-old Humboldt penguin swims Monday, May 9, 2011 at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. According to the Woodland Park Zoo website, Humboldt penguins can live around 20 years in their natural habitat and up to 30 years at zoos.


A three-month-old Humboldt penguin swims next to the glass Monday, May 9, 2011 in Seattle. According to the Woodland Park Zoo website, the birds eat anchovies, herring and smelt in the wild.


Tiny bubbles follow a Humboldt penguin swimming at the Woodland Park Zoo Monday, May 9, 2011 in Seattle.

A few weeks ago, I miraculously cleared the Washington State Reformatory security desk with a dolly stacked high with lighting equipment and cameras. My friend and photo/prison blogger extraordinaire Pete Brook and Seattle Weekly reporter Keegan Hamilton helped me push the load of gear through several security gates, and into a classroom used by the University Beyond Bars program.

Pete, an art teacher at the Monroe prison, organized the “Non-Sufficient Funds” exhibit to showcase artwork from 12 of his students at Vermillion Gallery in Capitol Hill. Proceeds from the show, which runs through May 14, benefit the University Beyond Bars program.

More than 50 acrylic paintings, drawings and mixed media pieces— created during a year’s worth of weekly studio sessions— are on display and definately worth enjoying over a tall, cold one. (Vermillion has a great happy hour, btw. Just get their before seven.)

My job that afternoon was to photograph his pupils. All of the portraits are currently hanging with their biographies at the gallery.

About the show, via Pete:

The title of the show, Non-Sufficient Funds, has a few meanings: First, it refers to the stretched resources of volunteer-based rehabilitation programs within prisons across America, which is what this particular exhibit is advocating for. Research indicates that inmates who maintain contact with the outside world and who engage in educational and vocational programs experience a much lower rate of recidivism.

Second, it is a commentary on the financial burden the Prison-industrial Complex places on US society. Due to harsher sentencing laws and the war on drugs, the prison population has quadrupled since 1980. Now, in times of economic crisis, serious questions are being asked about the amount of tax dollars spent on prisons.

Finally, it refers to the scenario when a prisoner receives a letter or package has insufficient postage, and no funds available in their prison account fund to cover the difference. “Non-sufficient funds” is stamped upon the return correspondence. Many of us are unaware firsthand of the rigid structure the penal system requires. Mail sent to inmates in violation of policies can lead to punishment. Prison libraries and other media are also highly censored for various reasons. Non-sufficient funds hopes to shed some light on the way art and education in institutions benefits society as a whole and we hope it encourages a dialogue and additional advocacy.

A side note: My dad was a was a long-time, mental health counselor who worked with alongside rehabilitation programs at the Wyoming Honor Farm outside Riverton, Wyoming. He said that treatment works. Not all of the time. But, in his experience, rehabilitation programs and counseling significantly reduces recidivism.


Hundreds of participants battle under the Space Needle during International Pillow Fight Day in Seattle on Saturday, April 2, 2011.

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For the next month or two, I’ll be helping with the seattletimes.com multimedia department as our fabulous video editor Danny Gawlowski is on partial paternity leave. (Welcome munchkin Asher Hil!)

Both mediums are powerful, and have slightly different approaches and skills. I’m embracing the opportunity, and its challenges. Also, I’m stoked to work more with video goddess Genevieve Alvarez. Here is the first video of the season.

Zahra, 36, stretches during yoga at Daryel, a program designed to improve the health and well being of Somali women in King County through massage, yoga, health education and opportunities for socializing. The program, based in Rainer Valley, originated Jan. 2009. The name roughly translates to “wellness” in the Somali language.

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A few months ago, I was approached about Daryel, a Somali women’s yoga and health program in Rainier Valley. Daryel was created to improve the health and well being of Somali women in the King County area through massage, yoga, health education and to provide opportunities for socializing.

Andrew Doughman, a previous intern at the paper, started on the story while reporting for UW’s global health reporting class. Doughman, myself and Harborview nurse Bria Chakofsky-Lewy, one of the founders of the program, worked through some of the culturally sensitive concerns on photographing and writing about the group.

Chakofsky-Lewy hosted group conversations with the Daryel’s participants to discuss the benefits and concerns of the article. After discussing the paper’s intentions, possible safety concerns and the parameters of photography, which included modesty due to cultural and religious beliefs, a handful of the women agreed to be in the article.

I photographed multiple sessions to ensure the images were culturally sensitive. As time went on, I learned that certain photos needed to be eliminated from the take after learning that bare feet and leggings shouldn’t show. I also needed to be mindful where the hijab rested on their shoulders. Eventually, I came away with a set of candid images that share their story.

To the women Daryel, as well as Chakofsky-Lewy, thank you for agreeing to share their program with our community. Also, I am grateful that our newspaper values the importance of culturally sensitive reporting, allowing Andrew and myself the time needed to do it right.

For a look at additional stories produced by the UW global health reporting class, go to www.healthintersections.org

Women gather in a circle during yoga class at Daryel, a program designed to improve the health and well being of Somali women in King County through massage, yoga, health education and opportunities for socializing. The program, based in Rainer Valley, originated Jan. 2009.

Fatima, 9, listens during a session at Daryel CQ in Rainier Valley. Her mother and grandmother attend the program as well. Daryel offers education sessions where women learn about about safety, diabetes, tuberculosis, headaches, mental health, cholesterol and other health topics.

Women practice their yoga poses during a Sunday afternoon session in Rainier Valley. The weekly program gives Somali women an all female, culturally sensitive place to exercise, whereas most local recreational centers don’t offer gender-segregated exercise facilities.

Fatima, Daryel’s bilingual coordinator, center, works during one of their weekly sessions. Fatima, who has been part of the program since its inception in 2009, said she would like to see Daryel have more massage therapists, as well as a permanent space for their program and exercise machines. Fatima said many Somali women carry tragedies with them from their homeland. She said Daryel has helped her and other women heal themselves. “No need doctors,” she said. “We are doctors now. We know how to kill the depression. We can take a deep breath.”

Hawo CQ, 71, from left, talks with Murayad, 62— the mother of Zahra, 36, (second from right) and grandmother of Fatima, 9 (right)— during Daryel. The weekly program welcomes all ages, but serves mostly women 50 and older. The program aims to bring Somali women together, especially elders, who sometimes are isolated from their peers and suffering from physical and emotional pain.

Murayad, 62, attends a Daryel session in the Rainer Valley. Older Somali women can suffer from isolation in American society, as well as trauma experienced from living in a war-torn country. Murayad, who suffers from chronic back pain and arthritis, was reluctant to go the sessions at first. But after one time visiting Daryel, Murayad was excited to come back. “Now she counts the days,” said Zahra, her daughter.

Safia, 66, left, and Hawo, 71, focus on their yoga poses during Daryel CQ in Rainer Valley. Between a dozen to two dozen Somali women attend the weekly session.

Bria Chakofsky-Lewy, a Harborview nurse, is called the mother of Daryel by some of the Somali women who attend the program’s weekly session. Chakofsky-Lewy helped create Daryel to address the pain some Somali women expressed in their visits to doctors at Harborview. She hugs Fatima, 9, during a recent session.