“When deciding whether to pop open the umbrella or shed an extra layer, Northwesterners trust Cliff Mass to provide answers. After all, the atmospheric scientist literally wrote the book on Northwest weather. His 2008 paperback, The Weather of the Pacific Northwest, covers the region’s broad meteorological landscape, from the Puget Sound convergence zone to the “banana belt” of Southern Oregon.
Mass’s intense interest in Northwest weather developed while he earned his PhD in atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in 1978. After graduation, Mass briefly left the Northwest for a professorship in Maryland but was drawn back to Seattle, where he gained local celebrity status as a professor at the UW, a weekly guest on public radio, and as the host of the popular Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog.”
Photo: Joshua Huston
“The Racial Equity in HCC Team, a network of about 100 Seattle parents, teachers, students and community members district wide, has worked hard this year to improve the racial equity of Seattle Public Schools’ advanced learning programs.
The Seattle school district offers advanced classes “for students who have been evaluated for and designated as Highly Capable.” To place into the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC), a student needs to score in the top 2 to 3 percent on standardized tests of cognitive, reading and math skills. SPS also offers Advanced Learning (formerly known as Spectrum) for students who have been evaluated for and designated as Advanced Learners.
However, both accelerated programs overwhelmingly consist of white students. In 2015, white students made up 45.6 percent of SPS population, but were 72.3 percent of HCC-eligible students. That same year, 16 percent of students in the Seattle School district were black, but only 1 percent were in Advanced Learning programs. Among SPS’s 12 percent Latino student population, only 3 percent were counted as HCC- and Advanced Learning–eligible students. This compares to data from the U.S. Department of Education from 2009 that shows black students comprising 16.7 percent of total U.S. students and 9.8 percent of students in gifted programs. Data from the USDE also shows that as of 2009 Latino students comprised 22.3 percent of students nationally and 15.4 percent of students in gifted programs. Among the 200 biggest school districts in the U.S., Seattle has the fifth-biggest gap in achievement between black and white students. Seattle’s white-black gap is also the biggest in Washington.”
“Staff sergeant Cathrine Schmid was prepping for physical training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord when Donald Trump sent the 6am tweets that would herald a drastic change in her career.
The country “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” read Schmid, 33, via Google alert on that morning in late July 2017. But it’s a run day, she thought. So she ran four miles.
“It’s not like I’m the kind of person to let fear get in the way of doing my job,” says Schmid, a signals intelligence analyst and transgender woman. A month later, she became a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN challenging the ban, which becomes effective March 23, 2018.”
Photo: Joshua Huston
“By the time Jackie Moffitt was 16, he had transferred schools four times and was longing for a community where he could be accepted as his authentic self — an autistic person. “Autistic people are very dehumanized in our society,” says Moffitt. “They are perceived as being incapable of emotions. People are surprised that people with autism can understand humor or love. They assume that having autism means a lack of desire to connect with other human beings.”
Seeking this connection, Moffitt discovered Theater of Possibility (TOP), a theater arts program based in Seattle and Bellevue serving kids who are “quirky, spirited, or shy or who may have Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, or other learning or ability differences,” as the demographic is described on the TOP website.
Through theater games, improvisation, and role-playing led by TOP Director Lauren Goldman Marshall, Moffitt learned to embrace many of his personal attributes like extreme extroversion and abstract thinking that he’d previously felt pressure to repress.
“A lot of times for kids with disabilities their whole life is about people telling them what they’re deficient in,” says Marshall, who co-founded TOP in the years after her own daughter was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. “With TOP, they are here first and foremost to have fun and create theater together. I’m definitely highlighting relationship skills, but it’s brought in more through the back door. It’s about making kids feel successful.”
Now 21, Moffitt works as a teacher’s assistant at TOP, supporting the next generation of autistic children as they learn and grow while they also reach a level of self-acceptance.
“It’s not just about autistic people needing to learn neurotypical social skills so they can pass in a world that is majority non-autistic people,” says Moffitt. “I think that neurotypical people should also learn how to empathize with autistic people’s perspective and communicate with them on their own terms.”
I spoke with founder and CEO of Outsider Comics and Geek Boutique, Jill Taplin about living out her dream, the nerd fandom scene in Seattle and making comics more accessible. Taplin strives to bring together a community of individuals (women, minorities, LGBTQ groups) who identify with geek culture, but have traditionally been underserved by comic shops. Here’s what she had to say on the topic.
Photos: Andrea Sassenrath
Popsicle Place, located primarily at the Mary’s Place Guest Rooms in South Lake Union and at a Mary’s Place house in Shoreline, gives homeless families with chronically sick kids a place to rest and recuperate. Families get private rooms, or the use of single-family houses that are loaned to the organization. The cost to run Popsicle Place varies by location and need of the families. The organization has received a couple of grants for the program, but primarily the funding comes from the general Mary’s Place budget.
Those who use Popsicle Place services include families with children battling cancer and mothers with babies born premature. The program is currently hosting about nine families but has the capacity to shelter more.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MARY’S PLACE HERE
“Amber Wise never imagined that her 5-year-old son Josiah would one day be diagnosed with leukemia.
‘He was complaining that his legs hurt,’ Wise said. ‘It kept getting worse, and so we took him to the local hospital in Spokane, but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.’
Finally, after running several blood tests, Wise received a call informing her that her son had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
‘When we found out he had cancer, I felt like I hit the bottom of the barrel,’ Wise said.
At the time, Wise and her family were homeless, struggling to secure stable housing in Moses Lake, a city on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. With the help of a relative, she relocated with her wife and son to Seattle where Josiah could receive the best possible care at Seattle Children’s Hospital.”
Pick up a copy from your local Seattle Real Change vendor!
Photo: Jerry Davis
“For the young people at The Mockingbird Society who have experienced homelessness and foster care, advocating for the youth of the next generation is imperative.
‘Even as I’m going through this journey of being homeless, I’m teaching, I’m inviting people in and changing people’s lives,’ said Okesha Brandon, a youth advocate. ‘Everyone kind of learns your strengths and people notice, and it builds your confidence. That in itself is a contribution to society.’
Named after the great American novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the organization draws inspiration from the book’s narrative.
“The power and promise of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is in reminding each of us of the untapped potential our most vulnerable citizens hold,” states the organization’s website.
In the seventeen years since its founding, The Mockingbird Society has had a hand in 25 new laws and reform policies to better the lives of young people in Washington state. Mockingbird’s youth programs train young people who have been homeless or in foster care to be their own best advocates. The result? Changes in the policies and perceptions that stand in the way of every child having a safe, stable home and a healthy family.
Mockingbird’s legislative agenda for 2017 is ambitious, but already making an impact.”