The following is a highly subjective, highly selective tour of some of the more effective groups working for mildly liberal to far-left radical political change>"/>
The following is a highly subjective, highly selective tour of some of the more effective groups working for mildly liberal to far-left radical political change on various issues in the Seattle area. All of them need volunteers! (All addresses are in Seattle and all phone numbers are within the 206 area code.)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): 705 Second, Suite 300, 98104; 624-2184. You love 'em or hate 'em, but these constitutional zealots will work tirelessly on the legal and lobbying fronts to ensure your protection by the Bill of Rights. Their innumerable projects include foci on freedom of speech, freedom of religion, separation of church and state, right of assembly, unreasonable search and seizure, citizen privacy, and civil liberties in cyberspace.
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC): 814 NE 40th, 98105; 632-0500. The Quakers' pacifism-based peace and social justice group. The Pacific Northwest regional office has a host of projects, including youth organizing, Native American rights, gay and lesbian youth rights, opposing anti-gay legislation, ending Iraq sanctions, Mideast work, and economic justice.
Books to Prisoners: c/o Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St, 98101. Anarchist collective that provides free reading material to literally thousands of prisoners across the country. Always needs help answering letters and packing books. An offshoot group in Olympia handles requests from the state of Texas.
The Children's Alliance: 172 20th, 98122; 324-0340. A "multi-issue advocacy organization for children and youth" that works on state policy in health care, anti-hunger, homeless youth, juvenile crime prevention, and welfare reform. Also offers excellent legislative updates and training sessions on how to be an effective advocate.
Church Council of Greater Seattle: 4759 15th NE, 98105; 525-1213. The countywide Church Council has shifted its focus away from political activism in recent years to place a greater emphasis on service projects, but still maintains a number of projects and task forces on issues of social concern: racial justice, global economy, advocacy for social and economic justice, homelessness, South Africa, and Cuba, among others.
Citizen Action: 100 S King St, Suite 240, 98104; 389-0050. A health-care-reform advocacy group with heavy leanings toward the Democratic Party. One of the only major groups working on this vital issue.
Civic Foundation: 800 Fifth, Suite 101-320, 98104; 378-1300. The voice of Seattle's neighborhood revolt. The Civic Foundation has become a major player in local politics in only two election cycles, using the simple mechanism of collecting monthly dues and then channeling them through a public interest fund to support two candidates per election. An eye for hot-button issues and regular forums that are usually pretty interesting, too.
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES): Remember all those Central American solidarity groups in the '80s? CISPES is virtually the only survivor, and it made it through by latching onto an issue more current than Reagan's wars: sweatshops and the exploitation of labor, not just in El Salvador but throughout the Third World. And it still does the solidarity work, too.
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR): 225 N 70th, 98103; 789-5565. The Western Washington office of this international, faith-based pacifist group. FOR is the city's leading group organizing in opposition to current US policies against Iraq, and also works in disarmament, racial and economic justice, and peace education for youth.
Gray Panthers: 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 98103; 675-8859. Local chapter of the famed senior advocacy group, does a great deal of work on health-care-access issues.
Seattle Greens: 329-1048. After several false starts throughout the '90s, it appears Seattle finally has a permanent and more or less cohesive Green Party. With the election of Peter Steinbrueck (an avowed member) and sympathizers Richard Conlin and Nick Licata, the Greens, on a platform of environmentalism and urban sustainability, may be the city's best bet for a third (or second) party.
Seattle Health Care Without Harm: 363-BURN. Neighborhood group in North Seattle attempting to shut down the one remaining operating toxic-medical-waste incinerator in the city, at Northwest Hospital.
Seattle Progressive Coalition: PO Box 30726, 98103; 329-1048. A new group of activists has formed this year to back progressive candidates for the 1999 City Council elections. Has also endorsed a six-point platform of key issues for all candidates to address.
Heart of America Northwest: 1905 Fourth, Suite 208, 98101; 382-1014. Environmental group that focuses legal and membership efforts on forcing the state and feds to clean up the nuclear waste mess at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Home Alive: 1925 Eighth, 98101; 521-9176. Founded in the wake of singer Mia Zapata's unsolved murder several years ago, has blossomed as a grassroots organization providing classes and advocacy in women's safety.
Jobs With Justice (JWJ): Box 9662, 98109; 441-4969. A coalition of labor and community groups, JWJ can generally be found wherever there's a picket line or job action. The self-styled "conscience of the labor movement," JWJ nationally has played a leading role in recent years in getting labor back on the streets. Most recent local projects include the musicians' strike at Civic Light Opera and supporting workers at Medalia Healthcare.
Labor Party: PO Box 61087, 98121; 382-5712. The Seattle chapter of this national union-based effort to generate a third party.
Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office (LELO): 1419 S Jackson St, Suite 11, 98144; 860-1400. It's not what it sounds like. LELO is an invaluable group of workers of color. It works both on labor organizing among workers of color, and (perhaps more importantly) on helping organized labor deal with its own entrenched racism.
Lesbian Resource Center: 2214 S Jackson St, 98144; 322-3953. Provides both support services of all types and activism on issues concerning social and economic justice, civil rights, and anti-racism. Led the recent battle to persuade two local radio stations not to pull anti-cancer public service announcements targeted at lesbians.
Local Housing Needs Local Laws: 632-4272. This new group made an astonishing run earlier this year in an initial attempt to persuade Olympia to repeal the present ban on local rent control ordinances. The longer-term goal is to get Seattle to consider limits on rent hikes as a response to the ongoing crisis in housing prices.
Mothers for Police Accountability: PO Box 22886, 98122; 329-2033. Central Areabased group that for much of the '90s has done invaluable work in keeping the Seattle Police Department more honest. Takes witness accounts of alleged police abuses, advocates for civilian review, and lobbies on laws likely to affect the civil rights of inner-city residents.
National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL): 811 First, 98104; 624-1990. Along with Planned Parenthood, a local outpost in the national struggle to retain reproductive choice.
National Organization for Women (NOW): 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 98103; 632-8547. Multi-issue advocacy on issues of particular concern to women, including reproductive rights, economic justice, and civil rights.
Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia (NACC): 4554 12th NE, 98105; 547-0952. Local affiliate of the War Resisters League. Peace and social justice direct action group, has taken a lead in local organizing opposing bombing in Yugoslavia. Also primary resource in Seattle for war-tax resistance. Helped spawn Art & Revolution workshops and parades.
Out Front Labor: Box 23215, 98102; 689-8627. "Pro-labor gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender people and our allies" demanding a place in the labor movement.
Pacific Crest Biodiversity Project: 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 98103; 545-3734. Works to preserve "integrity of forest systems in the Northwest," focusing mostly on public land in local watersheds and the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. Documents old growth in spring and summer field survey trips. A good mix of legal advocacy and woods-based direct action.
Peace Action: 5828 Roosevelt Wy NE, 98105; 527-8050. One of the biggest Peace Action chapters in the country, its work includes gun control and youth violence; nuclear abolition and the de-alerting of nuclear weapons; and the social inequities of the military budget, featuring street theater of the "Incredible Feats of Stupidity."
Physicians for Social Responsibility (Washington): 4554 12th NE, 98105; 547-2630. Group of medical professionals working on a number of issues, including the fast flux test reactor and clean-up at Hanford; lifting economic sanctions against Iraq; the planned upgrade of nuclear facilities at the Bangor submarine base in Kitsap County; the medical-waste incinerators at the VA and Northwest hospitals; and nuclear disarmament issues.
Save Our Valley (SOV): Box 18285, 98118; 621-9898. The multiracial South Seattle group that came together with astonishing speed to press for a tunnel for the Rainier Valley section of the Sound Transit light rail plan. It lost the initial round of that battle, but in addition to pressing on with legal appeal, SOV is now exploring the possibility of becoming a more general neighborhood advocacy group for the South End.
Seattle Displacement Coalition: 4554 12th NE, 98105; 632-0668. Staffed by indefatigable housing activist John Fox, battles to preserve and expand low- and very low-income housing in the Seattle area.
Seattle Independent Media Coalition: 632-2162. Umbrella group of video, cable access TV, microbroadcast radio, print, and Internet alternative media. Shares resources and publishes an excellent guide to alternative media in Seattle.
Seattle Progressive Coalition: PO Box 30726, 98103; 329-1048. A new group of activists that has formed this year to try to back progressive candidates for the 1999 City Council elections.
Seattle Union Now (SUN): 2505 Third, Suite 150, 98121; 956-0494. A major union organizing project, jointly sponsored by the AFL-CIO and King County Labor Council. SUN works both to help organize and to advocate for the right to organize as a basic civil right. Major current campaigns include high tech (WashTech), building trades, child care, hotels, musicians, and health care.
Washington Alliance for Immigrant and Refugee Justice (WAIRJ): 909 Eighth, 98104; 340-9187. WAIRJ does a remarkable job of (multilingually) decoding and challenging the multiple assaults these days on the civil rights of non-citizens, legal and illegal. Has been at the forefront of opposition documenting abuses in the recent Immigration and Naturalization Service crackdown on job sites.
Washington Fair Trade Campaign: 2343 NW 100th, 98177; 782-8292. Has worked against free trade agreements and the Multilateral Agreement on Investments. Is thus far playing the coordinating and host role for local and international groups that will be protesting the World Trade Organization ministerial meetings in Seattle November 29 December 3.
Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG): 5200 University Wy NE, 98105; 523-8985. This "non-partisan environmental and consumer watchdog" works on a variety of different issues, including clean air and water, protecting endangered species, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, toxic cleanup, and unfair marketing practices.
Washington Single Payer Action Network (WaSPAN): Box 30506, 98103; 782-4290. Advocates for a Canadian-style universal health care system.
Washington Toxics Coalition: 4516 University Wy NE, 98105; 632-1545. Multi-issue environmental and public health advocate, works on pesticides in schools, toxic chemicals, and pollution standards. Operates a toxics hotline and "provides information to consumers, businesses, and lawmakers on the least toxic solution to problems."
Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition (WROC): 2212 S Jackson St, 98144; 324-3063. It's been busy lately with the multiple difficulties facing people thrown into and out of Gary Locke's WorkFirst program. Documents program abuses and lobbies for legislation that would undo some of the harm done by welfare reform.
Western Land Exchange Project: 325-3503. Environmental group focusing on the practice of land exchanges between governments and timber, mining, development, and other companies, and trying to ensure that taxpayers aren't ripped off in the process.
Viva la Revolucion!
Communist Party: 1406 18th, 98122; 329-9171.
Freedom Socialist Party (Radical Women, United Front Against Fascism): 5018 Rainier Ave S, 98118; 722-2453.
International Socialist Organization (Campaign to End the Death Penalty): PO Box 9056, 98109; 292-8809.
Revolutionary Communist Party (Refuse and Resist, Revolution Books, Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Anti-Imperialist): 1933 Nagle Pl, 98122; 325-7415.
Socialist Workers Party (Pathfinder Books): 1405 E Madison St, 98122; 323-3429.
Workers World Party (All Peoples Campaign, National Peoples Congress, International Action Center): 1218 E Cherry St, 98122; 325-0085.
Missing in action (no public presence/ or contact locally): Communist Party USA, Socialist Party, Sparticist League.