Video by Laura Onstot
After three months of planning this morning was it. The Nickelodeons were up at 3:30 a.m. grabbing coffee and packing supplies. At 4:00 a.m. sealed envelopes were opened to reveal the site for their shantytown-- which had, except for those on the site selection committee, been a closely guarded secret. The planners were anxious as they boarded vans for transport.
These homeless men and women may not have envisioned Nickelsville being built from hot-pink tents but it seemed to suit them just fine-- and it fell in line with what has become more about the protest than the practical. "They want us to hide behind the shrubs, but we're not going to," Leo Rhodes, a resident of Tent City 4, said as the tents were unloaded.
Before dawn this morning nearly 50 people pitched the tents (donated from the Girl Scouts) in a field off West Marginal Way. They're angry with the mayor for kicking them out of the city's greenbelts and for being stingy with shelter space. The land is believed to be owned both by the City of Seattle and Washington Department's of Transportation. It's a couple-acre parcel of tall grass with a decent tree screen from the street to allow for some cover (even for the pink). Though it's likely only a matter of hours, not days, before the cops arrive. In the early days of planning, organizers had hoped for more permanent structures, that Nickelsville would have a settled feel making it harder for the mayor to tear down. That didn't happen, but the energy behind this effort and the organization in the wee hours this morning was still impressive.
Dozens of pink tents amidst the warehouses in South Seattle will be quite a sight, come daylight.