Eye on Nickelsville

The text of Aimee's post earlier today is below the jump, but you can read the whole thing and see her photos here.

Also our coverage, including the 4 a.m. video following the project from Tent City 4 on Mercer Island to the Highland Park site, is here if you've been too busy following your WaMu stock and haven't kept up with other local news.


Four days in, Nickelsville is starting to look like the semi-permanent encampment its organizers intended. There are a couple of large tents tents for the food and a booth were residents can check in. Many of the pink pup tents have been put up on pallets to protect them from the soggy ground. Some even have wood structures around them, compete with decorations proclaiming the names of the inhabitants. Late this afternoon, truckloads of construction materials started trickling in and soon a large structure was being built not far from the camp's entrance.

One man played a guitar next to a fire burning in a portable barbecue as curious onlookers showed up to lend a hand, take pictures, or advocate for their causes. Linde Knighton, chair of the Progressive Party proclaimed the 10-year-plan to end homelessness a "joke." And she said that mayor Greg Nickels and the city council (all but Nick Licata) are complicit in the policy failings that have created Nickelsville. The media swarmed. National news magazine Inside Edition made an appearance. The organizers were pleased with the turnout, though some looked warily on at the circus, which as usual was threatening to take on a life of its own.

Craig Corey, who's been involved in the planning since June, was one of the first to settle Nickelsville at 4 a.m. Monday morning. But tonight he's going back to Tent City Four, where he says he's got things to take care of tomorrow. "We've got their attention," he says. "It's been a gas."

"It's so nice to see something you've worked for come together," adds another of the original Nickelodeons who prefers only to go by Beatrice. "I hope something bad doesn't happen tonight." Throughout the camp, there's trepidation about what comes next. The mayor's deadline of 5 p.m. came and went. Most residents believe the city will either show up sometime tonight— or at first light tomorrow to kick them out. However, it's still unclear whether a sliver of the property belongs to the Duwamish, which could hamper Nickels efforts to remove the campers. (A member of the tribe came out to bless the encampment this afternoon.) Eighty-five people slept there last night. By day's end today there were upwards of a couple hundred milling about. No matter what happens in the next 24 hours, the Nickelodeons seem content to savor the scene. Perhaps visibility for the invisible is enough for now.

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