MEMBERS OF THE media (me included) are most often caught up in what's wrong with the world and with Seattle. But there are plenty of good things, and many people making amazing efforts, mostly left out of the news.
What follows is a necessarily subjective list of my favorite heroic local groups. They all do good work to make our community a better place. Some offer services; others work to change policies; some do both. All of them depend on donated money, time, energy, and volunteers. If you're looking for a place to send your end-of-the-year funds, or made a New Year's resolution to get involved, these make fine choices.
Books to Prisoners: A long-running project, loosely organized through Left Bank Books, which sends donated books to inmates around the country. 622-0195.
Boomtown Cafe: Food served by and for the homeless—but an affordable (and good) meal for anyone. 513 Third. 625-2989.
Children's Alliance: Tracks a wide range of issues relating to kids, teens, and young adults; particularly good on tracking and lobbying of Olympia. 324-0340.
Citizens' Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools: Single-handedly responsible for reversing the Seattle schools' policies regarding soliciting corporate advertising, but there's plenty of work remaining. 523-4922.
Gay City Health Project: For several years, the most vibrant and effective gay men's organizing in town. 860-6969.
Heart of America Northwest: Like a slasher killed for about the fourth and final time at the end of a bad horror flick, the plan to restart nuclear production at Hanford's Fast Flux Test Facility was finally scuttled last month. Heart of America deserves much of the credit and continues to do fine work on cleaning up the Western Hemisphere's most toxic nuclear site. 382-1014. Other credit for the Hanford work goes to the Government Accountability Project, 292-2850, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, 547-2630.
Jobs With Justice: A coalition of activist and community groups generally on the front lines of current labor struggles in the region. 441-4969.
Northwest Labor & Employment Law Office: Wide range of advocacy work for communities of color in Seattle. 860-1400.
Technology Access Foundation: A 5-year-old program to provide training and internships in computer skills for youth of color. 725-9095; www.techaccess.org.
Washington Alliance for Immigrant and Refugee Justice: Information and advocacy on legal matters and civil rights and other help for our newest neighbors. 340-9187.
Washington Peace and Justice Alliance (formerly Peace Action): The center of much of Seattle's anti-war organizing. 527-8050. Other sources for this kind of activism are the American Friends Service Committee, 632-0500, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, 789-5565. The American Civil Liberties Union, 624-2184, has done an excellent job of airing and defending civil liberties issues. Even before the conflict in Afghanistan, each of these groups had a number of good programs and initiatives.
Your nearest food bank: Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline supply most of our area's food banks, but getting involved directly and locally is even better.
There are, obviously, many others as well; the key is to get connected and get involved. Everyone's efforts count. Someone must stop the madness and create better alternatives; might as well be you. And if you're already out there helping, thank you. Thank you!