Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


The revolution will be translated

Today a man from our neighborhood with a very thick Chinese accent knocked on the door and, with the help of a printed petition and much pantomiming, asked me to sign a petition protesting the increase in home owner's association dues. I happily signed the petition. Even though the actual increase in dues doesn't affect me as much as it does others (it's the people in the duplexes and townhouses who are most affected) I object to the rate of the increases on principle, especially after hearing at the last homeowner's association meeting I attended that the strategy of the Seattle Housing Authority to set the initial dues low (below a sustainable level for the services provided) and make up the deficits until the homeowners took control of the association themselves, increasing the dues every year along the way. It's a terrible "strategy" to bait people with a mandatory homeowner's association fee that is artificially low, knowing that the rate is flat-out unsustainable.

Anyway, as I've mentioned before, language is a barrier in our community. Many cultures are represented here and many languages are spoken. People from all across Asia and Africa are represented and it's a struggle to convey basic information let alone organize and work together. I was glad to lend my name to the list.

Several hours later came another knock at the door. The original man had returned, this time with another man whose English was a little better but still not great. They wanted to know if I could do something, something to do with the petitions. I thought maybe they wanted me to walk the neighborhood with them, talking to the residents who speak English (or who don't speak Chinese). With increasing frustration we tried to communicate, the new man even tried to call his daughter on the phone (apparently she provided the English for the petition in the first place) but she didn't answer.

It was then I struck upon an idea: I'd see if I could ask my neighbors for some help translating. I suggested we go next door. I knew they were home because I'd been out to get the mail earlier and had seen them through the back window making dinner. Knock. No answer. The first man rapidly rang the doorbell a few times and then the mother peeked out the blinds. She seemed very suspicious at first, while the two guys gestured at me, so I smiled and waved (which basically comprises the whole of my relationship with them these last six years) and with recognition she started yelling. Soon their teenage son came to the door. The poor kid was promptly put on the spot as the two men and his mother started talking back and forth explaining the situation. Thankfully the kid's English is good! He was able to tell me that they wanted to make copies of the petitions and have me deliver the petitions to the board of directors at the meeting. Now, I received a notice of a meeting happening on the 21st (the day I leave for New York) but they're insisting that no, it's in two days and they'll bring me everything tomorrow if I would agree to represent them, since none of them speak English well and don't think they could bring their case effectively (and they're right).

So. That's how I agreed to become the representative proxy for the petition-signers who object to the large increases in homeowner's dues. I also got to meet and talk to the kid next door (Kevin) for the first time since his parents sent him over here to find out where we'd bought our lawnmower about six years ago. I've also met two of my perfectly nice fellow New Holly residents despite the language barrier we suffer from. Plus I get to help out. Regardless of the outcome, these homeowners deserve to be heard and I'm honored that they felt I was approachable enough to ask my help.



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Anonymous Someone who knows, but isn't suppose to say Says:

Contact the Department of Neighborhoods. There is a new focus on Immigrants and Refugees. Stella Chao, the new acting director (soon to be director when she is confirmed) is familiar with the Housing Authority. She was the Director of the International District Housing Alliance.

There are many of us who are very concerned about what is happening with SHA. New Holly is not unique amongst the redeveloped communities just further along in the process. Thank you for assisting your community.

Blogger Nikchick Says:

Thank you, Someone! I appreciate the tip. I spent another evening with my neighbors this evening getting their concerns translated and they are very worried that their concerns will not be addressed or taken seriously because of their immigrant status and their difficulties with the language. I would like to do whatever I can to help.

Anonymous Someone who knows but isn't supposed to say. Says:

There are many people around who are very concerned about the well being of immigrants and refugees in Seattle. Most of us are most concerned about the SHA renters, because they are having their share of problems and fewer resources to deal with it. But we care about all refugees and immigrants. Your friend is not alone. But it will not be easy. SHA can be tricky.

Anyway, You can start with your District Coordinator his name is Glenn Harris. And he is located right in New Holly. So he isn't that far away. His phone number is 386-1924. His address is 3815 S Othello #105 98119. His email address is

Also the City Council might prove useful. Licata and Steinbrueck are the most helpful for the Low Income Public Housing residents so they may have an ear open for the Immigrant and Refugee Home Buyers. McIver is useless on this issue.

I hope for the best for New Holly residents. Good Luck.

Blogger Titania Starlight Says:

I am not a fan of Home Associations. When I lived in Vegas they were the scourge of the earth. Thank goodness I live in the boonies and no one cares if I have one weed in my yard! Geesh!

That is so good of you to take on such a huge responsibilty. I never belive in coincidences but do believe in " meant to be's." You were meant to represent your neighbors in need. :o)


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