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Returning to my calendar, what were the meetings that I prioritized over Charlotte’s Thursday, 21 July 2016, “mandatory” house meeting that she scheduled less than 48 hours in advance by creeping through your property long after office hours?
Early morning breakfast began at the Women’s Educational Program (WEP) freely offered by Antioch University, targeting an audience of homeless women. Prompted by our earlier conversation about deep intuition, Jung, Freud, Derrida, and coincidence, a tuition-paying student working toward her degree in psychology introduced the “theme” for the day’s circle. One formerly homeless woman recently housed in a case-managed facility with on-site staff leaned over and whispered to me that the print collateral designed by another tuition-paying psychology student didn’t explain the location of Antioch’s building.
“That’s because they didn’t hire a professional graphic designer,” I whispered back, an afterthought I had earlier noted about the vernacular design of their fliers posted at the Women’s Wellness Center, only finding my way to Antioch’s studio space the same way I’ve learned about most of the really quite extensive but badly communicated resources available to Seattle’s homeless community: word of mouth from other homeless human beings, and encouraged her to give her feedback to the supervising faculty:
Wrapping up studio time, a tuition-paying student nearing completion of her master’s in art therapy asked for — and received — my critique of the hallway installation of her own visual work.
In other words, Antioch’s tuition-paying students benefit from my unpaid visually educated pedagogy, though simply announcing a theme-for-the-day and sharing traumatized opinions around an abstract concept uninformed by deeper readings is not how I started any of my undergraduate or graduate studio or lecture classes as either a student or a teacher, nor would I follow that format as faculty at any institution hiring cross-disciplinary scholars worldwide. While I benefit from a supportive social group and their studio’s crude resources, I have to be very, very careful about how many hours I am willing to devote free, educated professional labor to their program that may or may not lead to professionally paid work, however much their entire institution would benefit from my visually educated expertise, as visibly evident to their global audience, with its site replete with stock photography, a nearly unnavigable staff directory, and its desktop version not designed to scale to readily available 21st century desktop sizes, to name just three problems with Antioch’s global communications, though I would recommend beginning with the typeface selected for its identity and the overlapping ‘O’ and ‘C’:
Screenshot, Antioch University homepage, before.
And I would begin that design research project by asking all of the stakeholders, what is your identity? As an institution, who/what would you like to be?
Even their social media director describes my casual photo documentation of my bookbinding with their non-archival supplies as “seriously lovely,” but can you say the same of any of the images scrolling through their Twitter feed?
Do we want a “seriously lovely” culture, or seriously ugly mass shootings, serial killings, and eternal war?
Notice how this tweet connects Antioch’s WEP with its intended audience that it struggles to identify and reach, with most of its weekly attendees no longer technically roofless, just deeply impoverished, with still over 10,000 homeless individuals in King County receiving no or very little trauma-educated psychotherapeutic care?
And this one identifies resources Antioch’s middle-class providers may not recognize as resources immensely valuable to street survival on nothing more than a food stamp budget:
That’s the job of an entire communications design team. More concerted effort, assuring increased returns, would require more design research on my part, getting paid to listen to the stakeholders in their program. As I learned from my experiences working with first Seattle’s public school teachers and then the schizophrenic old lady that Seattleites decided in 2011 to elect to their school board, I no longer offer suggestions for how to accomplish goals in advance of a signed contract that includes a professional wage, half up front, half on delivery, and all of my future contracts will include a rage clause directly tied to a fee increase. Because without an exchange of competitive market capital for services, devout capitalists do not know how to respect educated expertise.
And sometimes not even then.
My favorite response to the morning’s theme came from another of your impoverished clients. An elderly white woman in a wheelchair, she peered up at me from a deeply lined face out of which radiate eyes sparkling with innate intelligence, and first introduced herself to me by promising, “I’m going to make you afraid.”
Not much scares me these days, and I certainly do not give a little old lady in a wheelchair permission to make me feel, regardless if that feeling is fear or compassion, anger or contentment, sadness or joy. My feelings are my responsibility, and I give no one on this planet permission to usurp that responsibility from me.
She can be one tough cookie, and I can see how your staff at another of your facilities would be thoroughly unprepared to set boundaries on her mischievous behaviors while simultaneously offering compassionate care, as she tells a running patter of trauma monologue, anxious for someone, anyone to listen to all the unresolved conflicts threaded through and through her life’s story. On the morning of 21 July, she offered this wisdom about deep intuition not readily understood or appreciated by a technology-rich, text-privileged, post-Enlightenment culture:
“Women’s intuition is a bummer for me. I was born a psychic, and I don’t like it… People used to walk up to me and drop murders in my life… So I went up on the roof, smoked a cigarette, and reinvented my life.”
Can you better explain the inconsistent decision-making between your staff at one facility reacting so strongly to that client’s threats of abuse to any animals who urinated on her patch of garden, sending her to involuntary lockup in a psychiatric facility, versus your staff supervising Restful Peace Cottage by actively rewarding Delores’s abuse of humans and other animals?
I left Antioch’s program a bit early that day in hopes of speaking with the officers who had so impressed me with their level of professionalism responding to my harassment call the prior summer, and still allow time via pedestrian transportation for me to get to a one-to-one meeting on Capitol Hill previously scheduled with Peter Qualliotine, Co-Founder and Director of Men’s Accountability with the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS). A potential resource Amy Salins recommended to me as one outcome of our first conversation, knowledge exceeding the experiences of your entire case and program management staff, if the organizers might recognize the commonality between sex trafficking and labor trafficking: people in positions of relative power benefit from the work of other human beings through coercion, force, and threats, in full knowledge of our positions of socioeconomic powerlessness.
As I anticipated prior to walking into a police department in suburban Idaho that turned out to be ill-equipped with security, verbally communicating the presence of a Swiss Army knife in my backpack to undereducated law enforcement personnel, West Precinct is fortified with thoughtfully designed landscape architecture further protected by concrete barriers, cameras, and graphic design communicating no weapons allowed.
If SPD archives its lobby camera recordings or takes its walk-in messages in duplicate, the desk sergeant behind bullet-proof glass should be able to corroborate my whereabouts sometime between 11:30 a.m. and noon that day, as I just missed the 11:00 a.m. end of the early morning shift. Forgive me, I neglected to get his name. Charismatic fellow, middle-aged white male with waxed mustaches reminiscent of Hercule Poirot. He seemed amused by the notion of my request to schedule an appointment with mere patrol officers, but exactly as Washington’s Attorney General describes on his trafficking page, trafficking victims’ past experiences leave us with good reason to fear law enforcement, may be missing our birth certificates or other documents, and forced or coerced into unpaid or underpaid labor by criminals benefiting from the vulnerability of our financial status. In my recent experiences, law enforcement badges, uniforms, or branded vehicles are examples of graphic design unreliable for judging integrity or professionalism, which I judge by observing the behavior of individual human beings in action.
What most impressed me about my interaction with Officers Bennett and Davenport was that they did not attempt to take my side as the victim of sexual harassment, remaining open to hearing the perspective of the perpetrator, if he could be found, and instead focused on the law. At the same time, their visibly evident masculinity did not seem to interfere with their ability to hear my perspective as a woman.
Not a listening skill shared by the female 911 operator with whom I spoke 14 October 2015. Retrospectively noting the Jungian coincidence between the 30th birthday of the former University of Idaho graduate student who critically wounded Seattle Office of Civil Rights lawyer Mike Chin and my call for help after being physically assaulted alongside Denny Park while returning to shelter at Seattle Center, the emergency operator broke in and interrupted my description of the incident, arguing with me about 1) the location where I was assaulted, 2) the location from which I was calling, and 3) further stamped her ignorant foot and insisted she knew better than I did the gender of my attacker. If the witness knows the gender, that’s relevant to police investigation, but gender uncertainty is equally relevant to identifying a suspect, hence the need for law enforcement to better design its data interface to reflect biological reality to better educate call operators rather than forcing victims and witnesses to choose either male or female.
I didn’t go for a genital grab in the process of being food-spit upon and chased from behind by an individual with raised fists pummeling through the air in response to my cordial, “Good evening,” both of our behaviors not dissimilar to all of my interactions with Delores, incidentally.
The 911 operator insisted I could not be calling from the intersection at Denny and Aurora, even while I held onto the signpost bearing both those street signs with one hand, my mobile in the other, waiting for the light to change before crossing the minuscule intersection where traffic dumps off 99 into the neighborhood of Charlotte’s office, communicating to me precisely what I identified in my 2008 thesis research, and what the 2011 DOJ investigation of SPD’s use of excessive force neglected to examine, the equally harmful lack of nurturing, or listening skills, among its support staff personnel. Between 2015 and 2012 when I gave up on finding employers in Seattle healthy enough to respect my educated expertise with a living wage, SPD’s 911 operators had not received better training, as I posted in 2014, describing their 21st century call operators as less empathetic than my eighth cousin twice removed, if you respect “true crime” writer Ann Rule’s description of working with the 20th century’s definition of “born” evil while answering Seattle’s suicide hotline in the 1970s.
As long as this nation continues to violate due process of law, forcibly locking up people situated in the most vulnerable position in their abusive families, then the FBI needs to better educate the underaged call center operators impatiently working the phones at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, because of course my feelings are irrelevant to my sharing my educated judgments of their listening skills or the behavior of Idaho’s undereducated mental juridical health professionals and your undereducated staff; titles “case manager” and “mental health professional” or “police officer” should not automatically confer authority over the victim when the complainant communicates abuse of that authority. I am too old to go undercover investigating the nation’s psychiatric facilities one by one by one, but where both Washington and even Idaho’s Attorneys General readily recognize the Medicaid fraud abuses of the pharmaceutical community, and Stanford men might breakdown after just six days, I feel confident in my ability to train a younger generation of investigative agents in the difference between a healthy fear of monsters and irrational paranoia leading to poor judgment-making and aberrant behavior, while maintaining self-awareness in high-stress environments.
If SPD cannot schedule appointments between its patrol officers and trafficking survivors leery of law enforcement abuses, then maybe Officers Bennett and Davenport could be promoted to positions better educating and training the department’s Domestic Violence Victim Support Supervisor, or to sexual assault or homicide investigations, if those are their career goals?
Maybe from the wealth of my humble public school education and post-graduate experiences I can better educate King County Executive Dow Constantine’s stereotypical web content assumptions about the experience of at least one trauma-educated trafficking victim: I feel no shame for the shameful behavior of Compass staff, a former Seattle School Board director, the Bundy clan, or Idaho’s 13-year failed pharmaceutical test subject, because their shameful behavior is not my shame to carry for them. I am educated enough to know that I am not responsible for the behavior of anyone besides my own.
Better communications design: instead of perpetuating cultural bigotry shaming the poor, responsible leadership would explain exactly that shift in their web content collateral, shaming the criminally abusive behavior, offering safe harbor for the victims of crime. I quit carrying around my family’s shameful behavior for them years ago, and have no intention of unpacking for your case, program, and clinical managers their individual, familial baggage that they could not be bothered to unpack prior to their employment start dates; that’s their jobs as human beings.
All of my traffickers rationalize their shameful, criminal behavior by spinning around their passive aggressive volvelles, hence the value of Unplay toward solving the problem of homelessness, homicide, better designing and building airplanes or the spaces in which airplanes are designed and built, or any other local or global communications problem.
My pedestrian high-speed transportation experiences navigating two suburban libraries to maximize their daily computer time have kept me in better shape than even I realized, as I arrived nearly an hour early to my 1:00 p.m. uphill appointment with Peter Qualliotine. Lucky Peter has carved out for himself the dream job of teaching healthy masculinity to violent sex offenders after parental role modeling, religious leadership, and our K-18 system of education have all failed. Definitely not my dream job when I was 20, enduring sadistic marital rape, not then educated enough to call it rape, nor even my dream job on completing graduate school and moving to Seattle, applying for uncountable thousands of corporate design jobs, not dream jobs, just humble little jobs paying attention to the details that visually uneducated human beings enjoy passively consuming. You see how career goals might shift over this post-Great Recession time of immense professional development and unanticipated growth not stuck in a paycheck rut of checking off check boxes on badly designed print collateral attached to clipboards?
What impressed me about Peter is his willingness, despite his whiteness and his maleness, to openly self-reflect with a global audience, recognize, publicly apologize for his bad behavior dismissing his sister’s judgments, and better educate himself with her stack of recommended readings. If Peter would like to accomplish his goal of shifting his target audience from 80 percent referrals mandated by sex crimes prosecutors to willing self-referrals, however, he’s going to need my visually educated skills to visually attract that audience, beginning with an identity that doesn’t look like a squidgy organic shape wavering between a river, a pregnant woman, or an umbilical cord, because look at his unrelenting cultural competition. Even I want the buxom blonde model in a little red dress with an older man draping diamonds around her neck. Because our culture produces very few images of an erotic that does not reinforce that psychosexual-socioeconomic power dichotomy between male and female.
Earlier meeting with Peter’s colleague, poet Martha Linehan, she described herself as an “ally,” marking a distinct hierarchy at times over, at times under, the expertise of a genuine trafficking survivor. Swapping advance emails with Martha, she warmly welcomed me to her group’s resources: Another free clothing closet to supplant the half-dozen or so charities scattered through Seattle giving away clothes. A kitchen, which would have been great to find in 2015 when I subsisted without access to cooking facilities, remaining ever grateful to the staff and volunteers at St. James Catholic Cathedral for tirelessly providing a balanced meal every weeknight evening to an audience sometimes openly hostile to their charitable Christian giving. And I am welcome to drop by OPS to “just hang out” and make marks using Martha’s bucket of crayons, cheap poster paints, and 8×10 pads of watercolor paper.
Via quick web research in advance of our first meeting, I could see why Amy would try to connect us. If poet and ally Martha hopes to accomplish her goal of moving beyond the concept stage to actually designing and building a memorial for serial killer Gary Ridgway’s victims, she’s going to need to hire a designer with precisely my breadth and depth of skills and life experiences. Unfortunately, even by my second appointment for our one-to-one interview, Martha arrived no further prepared than many academic faculty at institutions across this nation for their conference call speed-dating, or your case and program management staff who refuse to acknowledge my depth and breadth of educated skills, but continue to stomp their under-educated feet and insist on shoving a round peg into their square hole of unimaginative analogue data collecting, unprepared to solve the challenges of the post-Great Recession educated poor.
Some people create problems that they will spend their entire lives spinning ’round and ’round in circles trying to solve.
For me, by more fascinating Jungian coincidence, our interview scheduled 42 years to the date that two women vanished from the shores of Lake Sammamish, as well as, coincidentally, 60 years since the birth of my genetic eldest sister, the human trafficker, was something like if Michael McConnell had stooped down beside my dirty mat on the dirty floor at Seattle City Hall in 2015, to freely offer an evening of his educated expertise, and instead of being prepared for opportunity when it knocks on the door, and gladly asking all the questions I could think of in between carefully shutting up and listening to answers to learn from his educated expertise, I ker-plopped a pile of kindergarten enrollment forms in front of him, and sternly said, “First, you answer these questions. Then I will decide if you are qualified to help me.”
If one of Washington’s Representatives to the other Washington Dave Reichert genuinely wants to accomplish Martha’s same goal, how he would do it is by hiring a visually educated designer sensitive to the complex suffering of the families of Ridgway’s victims and the law enforcement officers and support staff that assisted his task force. As a rape and trafficking survivor, I’ve already got some ideas on a successful design solution to the problem of memorializing a serial killer’s victims, but as a trauma-educated designer, I also realize I need to listen to many more points of view than just my own. That’s called design research. Part of the design process. Not the job of the executive in charge of making action to ponder how to accomplish the challenging job of the humble designer. Maybe consider working with a designer genetically related to Ted Bundy’s brand recognition? Does Washington actually want to know all the names and locations of the remaining bodies? Then maybe hire a designer capable of asking empathetic questions while listening to a serial killer describe his first five years of early childhood, a much longer, slower process than homicide detectives have patience for.
That’s visual literacy.
Where are you going to find a designer like that?
“I can’t work in exchange for return bus fare and three pens,” I patiently explained to Martha, after answering all of the questions on her pile of analogue paperwork, almost identical to all of the other piles of analogue paperwork I have already answered countless times throughout Seattle’s convoluted, disorganized, and redundant poverty industrial complex, and no doubt quite similar to Charlotte’s data collection, further explaining that, while I genuinely respect and care about victims of commercial sex abuse, listening to their trauma narratives is as much work for me as it is for any trauma-educated psychologist, and her amateur “art” supplies are inadequate to my professionally educated needs. “I don’t have ‘hang out’ time. That’s how I’ve been able to accomplish so much on negligible budgets.”
To poet Martha’s credit, at least she was willing to handwrite my answers on her own badly designed forms, an active, psychologically healthy engagement in her learning, unlike your progressively devolving door of case and program managers at Compass, who only shake their bundles of paperwork and shriek at me. Perhaps Martha will grow after adding Julia Kristeva and Martha Nussbaum to her reading list curated by a genuine trafficking survivor. Her martyr narrative of beginning her work with OPS as a volunteer persuaded me not at all to traffic my educated skills to her trafficking survivors’ group; like I said, I have become very particular about how I prioritize my time.
“More funding! More case managers!” Martha responded to my question about what she hoped to accomplish with her fundraising efforts. In other words, her business plan depends on more johns. More pimps. More victims of sex trafficking. She cannot imagine a world without trafficking.
I can envision a world where poets and artists earn a living wage much as research scientists don’t spend their days pipetting fluid from one place to another place in exchange for the hope of winning a contest awarding not on enough to live on in the city in which they happen to live while middle class consumers pay museum admissions to go admire installations of their recombinant cocktails of antipsychotic, antidepressant, and opiate pills causing egregious social harm.
Martha might further improve her data intake questionnaire and prompt deeper self-reflection by asking if her potential clients are not just victims of domestic violence (check), but if they have, at times, also been perpetrators, a level of awareness as challenging and as essential to trauma recovery as Peter’s self-awareness through his conversations with his sister.
While I would walk across hot coals for Noel Gomez, the group’s cofounder and trafficking survivor who welcomed me without judging me as too old, too educated, or with too little in common with other sex trafficking survivors, offered a supportive hug, and more return bus fare after Compass miserably failed to uphold the terms of its contract with me, reducing services after I placed healthy boundaries on your staff’s abuse of their power, I still cannot afford to volunteer my educated skills to our cause.
Under capitalism, grown ups cannot survive on volunteer labor, regardless if that volunteerism is freely offered, or coerced by criminals unwilling to uphold their own contract terms.
From Charlotte’s narcissistic perspective, meeting with her to watch her spin around her passive aggressive volvelle should have been my highest priority in mid-July, but if your arrogant case and program managers first reviewed even their analogue data before sending it fluttering through the Cascades and disrespecting my time, my experiences, my life, she might have noticed from the photocopy that Hilary took for your files that my Washington driver’s license expired on my birthday this year. Another lapse in your ever-revolving door of staff better familiarizing themselves with their clients’ real lives and matching our real experiences to the trickle of the programmatic funds available for the dire poor, instead of wasting those funds with redundant education or applications for employment and housing, or simply comparing two separate sets of data.
Or rolling up their sleeves and getting to the real work of de-programming our broken system instead of shaming and blaming the poor.
Amy’s knowledge of Seattle’s social services also clued me into the voucher offered by DSHS to DOL to reduce the cost of renewing my driver’s license to just five dollars, essential to accessing services if the domestic trafficking survivor hopes to keep on surviving.
“I have two dollars,” I explained.
Amy laughed in a way that sounded commiserating, a distinct difference in tone from the shaming and blaming words and actions of your case and program management team ill-equipped to do their jobs.
When my pedestrian half-day roundtrip trek to acquire access to toilet paper via a retail store gift card earned from an academic quarter’s contribution to Antioch’s WEP program – a wage equivalent to 19 cents per hour, plus supplies, according to my calculator – resulted in an unexpected bonus as the cashier offered to cash out the less than five-dollar remaining balance, I performed a quick cost-benefit analysis: would the state-issued identification lead to more opportunities to access toilet paper in quantities realistic to adult human biological need while my state-contracted social services provider splurged on watering the concrete pad in its nonprofit corporate backyard and revolved its door of staff yet again, or would I be better off conserving that unexpected dividend for four more packages, each containing four rolls of toilet paper, from the dollar store, and hoping that providing expert psychoanalytic witness testimony of a mass shooter and the failure of at least one state’s mental juridical health system might lead to a living wage job somewhere in this nation?
Still woozy from food poisoning or ‘flu or stress from the audacity of trying to survive mass shooter culture actively encouraged by Compass, not quite up to whole foods after vomiting and diarrhea confined me between bed and bathroom while Delores raged onward about Jesus and patchouli and your broken coffeemaker, on the day before my birthday I awoke prior to dawn to again attempt to navigate the state’s varied, disorganized, and visually challenged departmental websites trying to ascertain how to accomplish what I needed to accomplish in meatspace in just one pedestrian day.
Drinking lots and lots of fluids, I walk walk walked through the glaring walk walk walk heat of high walk walk walk summer from your walk walk walk suburban crime scene walk walk walk to DSHS, walk walk walk with a brief walk walk walk return to your suburban crime scene to strip off my sweat-soaked clothes, shower, change, and walk walk walk onward to walk walk walk DOL, pausing as needed to walk walk walk locate publicly accessible walk walk walk toilets, and walk walk walk back again, a roundtrip trajectory that my food stamp purchases that day will confirm, as I could not carry enough fluids in my backpack to keep me hydrated throughout that half-day’s journey.
As an empathy-building exercise, I encourage your One Night Count volunteers to try that same walk while subsisting under my same life-threatening conditions within my same budget.
Winter is not the only season with extreme temperatures.
Luckily for me, Seattle is not Vegas, or the same walk probably would have killed me.
Fay Sitaras supplied her department’s form to access a state identification card, for just five dollars, not to renew my driver’s license, she cautioned, but encouraged me to ask anyway.
As long as the trafficking survivor could physically walk a hard copy piece of paper from one state department to another state department 16 years into the brave new, paperless millennium in the high-tech city of Seattle.
She even quickly printed out the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV)’s locations for me when I asked a seasoned local to confirm the DOL was as far away as I thought it might be, making the usual, stereotypical assumption that destitute clients are not more technologically savvy than state bureaucrats after I mentioned, intended as user interface design feedback from an unemployed expert, that I had been up prior to dawn digging through the state’s badly organized, visually challenged websites theoretically serving the state’s citizens, until I realized if I didn’t head out into meatspace I wouldn’t be able to complete the journey during office hours.
She meant well, I am sure. But. The DOL’s site is no better visually communicated when printed than viewing the same information available on screen.
While the DMV provides multiple physical locations for renewing vehicular registration, not so many for destitute pedestrians renewing their state-issued identification, or what I call unsustainable car culture bias. Or class privilege.
Exactly the same problem with the laws doling out programmatic funds to America’s impoverished classes, and why Congress continues to fail to solve the poverty problem, generation after generation after generation, however many hardships they may individually tell themselves they or their parents or grandparents endured to empower their comfortably fed careers. After complimenting my research into the allegedly available funds for trafficking survivors, Fay also acknowledged the lack of communication across varied government departments and nonprofit corporations contributing to the problem of serving the dire poor, “Lack of communication, and different funding streams.”
In other words, here again money does not solve communication problems.
Grateful to find at the DOL low level state bureaucrats still willing to serve a humble citizen like me when I stumbled across their threshold at a quarter ’til five that afternoon. I first encountered Bridget, a young white woman with long brown hair and a strident voice very well-versed in her department’s rules, and so eager to share them that she interrupted me every half-sentence, thus did not hear my questions well enough to provide me with enough information for me to make sound decisions affecting my brute survival. Thus I repeated myself. Very patiently. With lots of thank yous for her willingness to serve me just before the close of her business day.
“You will surrender your driving privileges,” Bridget intoned emphatically, if I did not renew my license.
Since a bus ride is a luxury under your staff’s inability to maintain your contract terms, Bridget had not answered my question.
“As a trafficking survivor, it does not matter how many times you repeat dollar amounts at me, I cannot conjure that up,” so I was trying to understand expirations and identity and address confidentiality and how those might affect my ability to survive some more.
After I asked about the possibility of renewing my license with the DSHS voucher, a tiny portion of our dialogue went something like this:
“DSHS never remembers to tell you the voucher is only for identification cards, not driver’s licenses,” the taxpayer-funded employee wailed her martyred complaint about the lack of communication between two state departments to a destitute, unemployed communications expert.
“It sounds like your agency isn’t communicating with DSHS very well,” I commented.
“But we do tell them!”
“Okay, so maybe they’re not hearing it.”
Before she whisked away the piece of print collateral that I had physically walked from one isolated state department to another isolated silo, I asked Bridget’s permission to shoot a copy:
“You can’t use our photocopier.”
“That’s okay. I’ll use my phone. I am a designer. I am documenting my way through the poverty industrial complex.”
“What are you designing?” suspiciously.
“Design isn’t about making things. It is about solving problems. I am a communications designer.”
“Solve this problem!” Bridget implored me, faced with repeat customers multiple times a day asking for driver’s license renewals with no budget beyond the DSHS voucher.
“I’m working on it.”
Next Bridget offered her suggestion for resolving the problem of the lack of communications between multiple state departments exacerbated by diverse funding streams: “Send them an email!”
To the department that still snail mails print collateral notices to its destitute homeless clients lacking a physical address in 2016-? Headed by an Acting Secretary who keeps her staff directory and/or contact emails hidden from public access-?
I did not start crying until I reached the second counter, and then not until after I first calmly explained to the white, middle-aged female bureaucrat with dyed-red hair that I am a trafficking survivor so I need to keep my physical location confidential, and not until after she ignored my introductory sentence, instead focused on the data entry forms I passed along from one state department to another, and she sufficiently assumed in that languid, judgmental tone shared by comfortably fed bureaucrats paid to serve the wealthy and the impoverished alike: “Oh, you got your driver’s license revoked?”
“Something like that. I successfully defended my graduate research on critical theories of identity, trauma, and the taboo in 2008.”
It turns out, the blue-haired ladies dutifully keeping track of my monthly allotment of toilet paper were wrong about just asking for address confidentiality, before promptly tucking a piece of paper with my name and the address of your suburban crime scene into their top desk drawer because they required proof of my physical location to approve the expenditure of one roll of toilet paper and returned my skeptical look without batting an eyelash as if they necessarily assume poverty equates stupidity. The drawer designed to hold paperclips. And not much else. As if another blue-haired lady isn’t going to come along later and dutifully input that data into their computer system while reorganizing her paperclips.
And who knows who all is able to obtain access to the data in the database secured by yet another nonprofit corporation allotting toilet paper from the government to the dire poor.
King County Elections Department allowed me to update my last known “permanent” address to confidential using their online form. Maybe. It seemed to work online, though recent snail mail communicates I am back in my old Queen Anne apartment.
Understandably, from a law enforcement perspective, the DOL still requires homeless citizens to report a physical address.
Unfortunately, the Secretary of State’s official Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) is yet another programmatic offering, ostensibly designed to offer protection to citizens vulnerable to threats, harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, or stalking, that necessarily assumes, by law, that the survivor will need the assistance of incompetent case managers, allies, or advocates with the preparation of her application. The Washington legislature sufficiently assumed the case and program managers employed by your social services nonprofit corporation would obey their legal duties under RCW 70.123.070, and required the signature of not just the adult human being better educated in human psychology and domestic violence and conflict resolution than everyone on your staff combined, but also the co-signature of “any individual or representative of any office designated in writing under RCW 40.24.080 who assisted in the preparation of the application,” and those individuals are necessarily assumed to be employees of “state and local agencies and nonprofit agencies that provide counseling and shelter services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, or stalking…” and the application must be certified in advance of renewing a driver’s license or obtaining an “identicard” in lieu of funding for license renewal.
The language of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) changes ever so slightly from the language of law: “The standard application form shall also include the application preparation date, and the signature of the application assistant as provided in RCW 40.24.080,” as RCW 40.24.080 only mandates that the Secretary of State designate said agencies “to assist persons applying to be program participants,” and does not require a survivor to be further abused by agencies like yours.
The web content writing on the Secretary of State’s site changes ever so slightly again from the language of the WAC, stipulating that, “All applications come to the ACP from victim advocates,” supplying only a change of address form anywhere on the badly designed site, but not the initial request to apply for yet another Program, and I insufficiently assumed from collecting information from multiple online data sources that meant the hard copy paper application would be available at the DOL.
In just my experience, flaws severely weakening the logic of the Washington State legislature:
• The sneering derision for my poverty from Charlotte.
• The sneering derision for my poverty from April.
• The sneering derision for my poverty from all of the front line counter workers at DSHS. The first time I was able to get treated like a human being was when I walked up to their reception desk in spring 2016, and ironically asked the same question posed by the mass shooter who critically injured a Washingtonian working for Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights, when he walked into the Arby’s in Moscow in winter 2015, but instead of whipping out a firearm, I only calmly and gently placed on their countertop a stack of distantly related case law I’d brought along with me to review while waiting in chairs. Since an advanced degree in art and design didn’t net me the respect of basic human dignity, you maybe see why a juris doctor is so appealing?
• The sneering derision for my poverty from the passive aggressive case manager and director at Salvation Army, as equally undereducated and incompetent as your staff, leading to eviction from their emergency shelter when I made exactly the same request I am making of your agency, and of course the same request I made of the extended Bundy clan: healthy communication, or to be treated with what I consider to be basic human dignity, while the executive director over all of their shelters continues to scratch his head, bemused by his miserable seven percent self-reported “success” rate?
• The sneering derision for my poverty and sometimes rampaging hostility from numerous women employed by the YWCA, where it is difficult to tell who is a traumatized homeless client, and who is paid staff, and whose domestic violence program necessarily assumes the survivor needs re-educating, and a three-month, highly competitive emergency shelter program of required coursework detracting from the full-time job of job-seeking would get the job done, but where is the re-education for the abuser(s)-? Where is the re-education for police departments that employ militia men? Where are the trauma-educated social workers emotionally intelligent enough to begin from their clients’ real needs instead of insufficiently assuming their grant-funded programmatic requirements fit multiple round pegs into the same square hole?
• The sneering derision for my poverty and multiracial identity from Sarah Sorensen, the neurotic, narcissistic young white woman in 2012 visibly overwhelmed with the demands of her job as Volunteer Supervisor, Victim Support Services, at Seattle Police Department, visibly transferring her unresolved difficulties in relation to her mother to any educated woman who walks through her door, whose visual model for domestic violence support first prompted me to analyze why the city’s model is failing, with an increase by 60 percent in domestic violence crime between 2009 and 2012, according to SPD’s own statistics, as published by The Seattle Times, and to design a trauma-educated healthy communications model good for resolving any conflict, regardless if those conflicts are domestic or foreign, public or private, personal or business.
• The sneering derision for my poverty from a former Seattle School Board director.
• The sneering derision for my poverty from both of her dueling campaign managers, including one who is the brother of a former Washington state legislator.
What commonality do you see in each of the assumptions made by the state legislature?
From the Secretary of State’s website, once the employees representing state and local agencies and nonprofit agencies fail to perform their taxpayer-funded jobs, there are not a lot of resources left for trafficking survivors trying to find ways to survive some more in Seattle, Washington, in 2016.
I can see why the legislators would protect the Secretary of State’s office from becoming overwhelmed with playing postmaster clearinghouse for the sheer demand from abused women in Washington, but from the victim’s perspective, the more paperwork I have to facilitate just to survive, the less time I have to complete our Case Management Plan Addendum, or address the issues that have led to this period of homelessness, and work toward my educational and employment goals.
It turns out that simply a roof overhead and access to wifi is inadequate to finding an employer or clients healthy enough to reciprocate my educated expertise with a living wage. I do still need the crime-free living environment, or all of the protections promised by your lease and corresponding collateral, and Washington law. People who will do what it is they promise to do.
Better communications design if the Attorney General hopes to reduce his caseload and truly solve Washington’s trafficking problem: each state, county, and municipal department along the way needs to reset its moral compass at zero income, basic human dignity from the lowest common denominator.
Better communications design: why is the DOL, or any government office, paying the cost of human labor to stand and repeat the same verbal data all day long, when a well-designed kiosk, with graphic design solutions thoughtful of the department’s full range of stakeholders provided using both analogue and digital media, in multiple languages, would better accomplish the same job for less?
Why, in 2016, are human beings still frittering away their lives performing work more efficiently performed by readily available technology?
Better communications design for the poverty industrial complex: if you’re not going to pay for transportation, why shuffle impoverished human beings through meatspace? Other than showers and food and shelter, don’t we have technology for everything else by now?
Maybe the only work human beings should now perform is the work that machines cannot substitute, care-giving work, thoughtful decision-making work, hearing the specificities of one another’s narratives, and, where those life stories fall outside programmatic boxes, getting to work on better systemic solutions-?
On the way back to your suburban crime scene on the day before my birthday, I paused in a park beneath a weeping willow, watching a handful of presumably middle-class citizens playing Pokémon Go. It’s not that I begrudge the middle class their entertainments while I try again to decide, a repetition from autumn 2013 when Micron’s stock soared to $36 per share to spring 2014, and I reported to authorities my family’s child abuse, elder abuse, and trafficking, along with a poorly investigated cold case homicide, to the sneering derision of suburban Boise police, whether the greater threat comes from within the home or from without, I just don’t need a digital device to lure me into walking. I already walk.
• There’s the criminally violent housemate who may be stockpiling weapons in the basement and may or may not be affiliated with ISIS.
• The criminally abusive case and program managers who blame me for the housemate’s criminal behavior and repeatedly threaten me with rooflessness, which would mean again losing my desktop communications tool and again cramming the remainder of my life down to what I can carry on my back or in my arms, each time I refuse to obey the criminally abusive housemate’s commands to violate Washington law or exceed our contractually agreed domestic chores to her peculiar, narcissistic whims. The ACP would not ameliorate either of these immediate threats.
• The former Washington legislator who might not like my public descriptions of his narcissistic, drug-addicted brother. Either of them may have powerful friends in Olympia.
• The former Seattle School Board director who might not like my public descriptions of her racist, irrational behavior. Despite what is to me is her schizophrenia visible via her chaotic web and print collateral, deploying my tagline but in a badly designed typeface, that says one thing and does another was, nevertheless, powerful enough to get herself elected over the heavily funded incumbent.
• The SPD staffer who might have armed colleagues or friends who might not like my public descriptions of her response to a murder reported to her in 2012 and not prosecuted in Arizona until 2016, with no thanks at all to her sneering dismissal of my better-educated poverty and multiracial identity.
• The police department in southern Nevada that prides itself on its homicide case closure rates, and may be reluctant to reopen a poorly investigated case.
• The Vegas homicide detective who very likely has not emotionally matured nearly as much as I have in the last 20 years.
• The sexist, racist Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff, who might have influence over Maricopa County prosecutions.
• The serial rapist/killer who may or may not have acted alone sexually assaulting and murdering my first husband’s third wife, and who may be speaking while under the influence of antipsychotics giving his jailhouse confession 19 years later, and may have been delusional when he raged about the government turning the western deserts into a boneyard. Or he may have legitimate connections to the FBI and/or the CIA. Without more research into his biography and weighing the evidence, I am not in a position to make that judgment.
• The rapist ex-husband who may not like my public descriptions of his behavior omitted from Metro’s initial investigation of the sexual assault and murder of his third wife. Now that I have been reunited with my journals from 2009, I see his stalking behavior likely continued at least 12 years after I asked him to stop calling me. Or maybe “just” coincidence I received three phone calls from the 702 on 18 November that year that coincides with the day of our marital contract from 1988? Or, more realistically, like my eighth cousin twice removed Ted, the psychopathic ex-husband assumes the victim is forever his, that we are forever one?
• His shady associates, who range as far afield as Michael Jackson’s father to who knows whom since I fled Vegas.
• The police department in suburban Idaho that might not like my public descriptions of their fragile masculinity. If I’ve learned one thing in life so far, the only thing scarier than a roomful of dumb guys is a roomful of dumb guys with guns.
• The global memory designer who either has some major cache flow problems or “forgot” about homicide while attempting to force his will over me, who more recently encouraged a drug addict to traffic both my educated professional and household labor and stolen property, and may not relish the prospect of retiring in prison for trafficking and fraud or relinquishing his carefully hoarded retirement funds to compensate me for my losses.
• My genetic sister who “forgot” about our shared genealogy and the homicide of my first husband’s third wife while supporting her abusive husband’s attempt for force his will over me, who more recently encouraged a drug addict to traffic both my educated professional and household labor and stolen property, and may not relish the prospect of retiring separately in a women’s prison for her supportive role in trafficking and fraud or relinquishing her husband’s carefully hoarded retirement funds to compensate me for my losses.
• My genetic Mormon family who denied their own genealogy and circled the wagons around a senior electrical engineer at Micron and his dutiful wife.
• My genetic mother, who dutifully repeats anything abusive patriarchs tell her, like a puppet unable to think for herself. Like the mother of a former Seattleite, Frances Farmer, my genetic mother would happily insist “you’re delusional” if it meant forcing me back into a state mental hospital, without making the logical connection that begs the question with whom was she conducting an adulterous affair in northern California in late 1968-? And how does she account for my genotypical similarities with the man introduced to me as my father since year dot?
• Carol and her other children, mother and siblings to my incarcerated third cousins whose definition of freedom may be different from mine in some ways, similar in others.
• Their very likely armed friends and associates.
• The state prosecutor ex-husband who may not like me so publicly describing intimate details of our relationship.
• His allegedly ex-FBI parents. His smother willing to wage World War III. over the return of one Utah calendar. His spineless father, unable to place boundaries on his abusive wife.
• Their former employer, who may not like my public request for more thorough investigation of the relationship between state-sanctioned drugs and homicide.
• The CIA-funded Spokane psychologists who may not like me pointing out that the way to acquire reliable intelligence is to establish trust through nurturing care, not torture until your victim tells you whatever you want to hear.
• The federal agency responsible for their contract.
• The federal agency responsible for providing legal rationale for torture.
• Virginia’s 2007 governor, now United States Vice Presidential Candidate, who may not like my public questioning of the solution recommended by his panel reviewing that year’s massacre at Virginia Tech coincident with mass and serial shooting violence at my graduate school alma mater.
• Any of the experts on that panel.
• Members of Congress who may not want to more closely consider their personal and public fiduciary relationships with multinational pharmaceutical companies and their products. Probably the ACP will not help protect me from some of these potential threats.
• Multinational pharmaceutical company executives who may view healthier solutions to trauma recovery not as an opportunity to reinvest their fortunes but as a threat to their single-minded pursuit of fattening their bank accounts.
• All of their employees suffering severe denial while telling themselves their work is for the good of humanity.
On the other hand, any of these folks genuinely looking for better solutions for resolving conflict, internal or external, public or private, foreign or domestic, might appreciate my help. A second thing I’ve learned in life so far is if you wait 17 years to keep speaking what you know about homicide, trusting the authorities to do their jobs, that trust will likely result in more sexual assaults, more homicides. I have a moral duty here to keep speaking to higher authorities, hoping somewhere along the way folks in more powerful positions than me will respect my educated, unimpeachable testimony.
When in 2013 I merely wondered are you safer inside the home or without, if perhaps your family might include the 20th century’s definition for “born” evil, then at least this time I can affirm, yes, indeed, pace the undereducated opinions of the taxpayer-funded employees of a state disappearing and murdering its own citizens out of 1) ignorance, or 2) legislated, narcissistic greed.
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