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The days are beginning to get longer and we are almost a year since the first restrictions related to the pandemic. Slowly but surely we are seeing the effects of vaccinations on our infection rates, but we are not out of the woods yet. Today I’m sharing updates related to my office’s COVID response as well as how one of our neighbors is fostering community during this difficult time. 

Volunteering in the Community

Councilmember Mosqueda and President Sterling Harders, SEIU775, at the vaccine clinic in Rainier Beach today

Today, in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, I had the chance to join care giver members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775 who provide representation for those who care for our most vulnerable who need in-home care.  The incredible team of Firefighters IAFF Local 27 members, Seattle City employees, and University of Washington healthcare professionals made sure these critical front line workers were able to get access to their second vaccine. The members of SEIU 775 include home care providers, who are more likely to be women, as well as immigrants and people of color. These workers on the frontline of providing care to our most vulnerable, and are now able to care for others knowing that they protected from the virus. We recognize that any vaccination plan must lead with an equity lens and prioritize those who are most vulnerable in our community. Today’s COVID clinic and vaccination program in partnership with 775 did just that. The COVID clinic at UFCW21 that provided front line grocery store workers with access to vaccines last month also did that for grocery workers who are more likely to be people of color, women and lower wage workers. This vaccination focus is part of the national strategy to vaccinate people of color and others most vulnerable to COVID-19, and doing so swiftly.

The staff at the clinic in Rainier Beach is also largely youth of color, providing critical language- and culturally-responsive staff at our city vaccination and testing sites. It was my second time back this week and tomorrow will be my fifth time volunteering at COVID vaccination clinics - with many more to come. 

As we work to respond to the crisis that COVID has created, we must do so first through an equity lens. I am proud that the City’s response includes essential workers like our grocery store workers and home care workers, who are more likely to be exposed to the virus and are also more likely to identify as BIPOC. With BIPOC communities are being vaccinated at lower rates, while experiencing disproportionate COVID deaths, our vaccination sites in Seattle must prioritize accessibility and utilize community-led engagement efforts that address historical traumas in healthcare so we can ensure recovery is as equitable as possible!

Community Spotlight, featuring Olisa Enrico

This Black History Month, Team Teresa thought that instead of featuring a current Black leader in the community, that we would provide them the space to share their own experience as a Black Seattleite. This newsletter we invited Olisa Enrico, Performing Artist, Arts Education Specialist, and a Founder of Griot Girlz. Here she is in her own words:
By Olisa Enrico 
 
I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I am a third-generation Seattleite on both my mom’s and my dad’s side. They met in the CD which back then was the colored district. Redlining and de facto segregation placed them in the perfect position to meet and thereby make me. My mom Filipino, Native and White and my dad Seattle Black. As a child I was placed in the “IPP” program. I was often the only Black girl in an all-white class in a predominately Black school. In the words of Ntozake Shange “I was missing something.” 
Over the years I have figured out what I was missing. I was missing the ability to own my Blackness, to be fully in my Blackness because I bought into the stereotypes and media hype that I did not fit into. What I learned over the years is that NO ONE fits into the hype, that the experience and stories of Black Womxn are too often misrepresented. Which inspired me and a few other Black Womxn artists to form a non-profit corporation Griot Girlz, whose mission is to engage the community in the art of storytelling through cultural practice and performance with a focus on uplifting the stories of Black Womxn. 

On Saturday, February 20th Griot Girlz in partnership with LANGSTON hosted a convening of Black Womxn, Dispersed: A virtual convening. We convened for 10 hours with the shared outcome of a collectively written play with the working title 'Dispersed: Celebrating the Diversity and Divinity of Black Womxn'. We explored what it means to Black and Womxn in this world. How do we, through story, express our Strength, Resilience, Power, and Process. What is sustenance for the Soul in the face of colonization, integration, assimilation, intimidation, and attempted extermination of the Black Femme Divine? 

Dispersed: A virtual convening was AMAZING!!! A one-day intensive of facilitated workshops, presentations, and performances that were designed to inspire personal responses from participants, we opened together with the practice of Libation. We shared in 3 intensive workshops interspersed with music, dance, poetry, and comedy performances and capped off with a panel of phenomenal Black womxn featuring Ijeoma Oluo and Roxane Gay. Each experience explored a topic that is relevant to the shared experience of being a Womxn of the African Diaspora. Participants' responses of the poetic, songs, visual, movement based, or intellectual were submitted and crafted into a Ritual play. Ritual refers to facilitated experiences designed to foster participants' entrance into an altered state of consciousness which manifests the Poetic which we define as:

“The imagery and the music of the story. The poetic uses the infinite power of WORD imagery through rhythm rhyme and poetry of language with its multiple meanings and messages. It must be spoken with passion and with power.” 
This methodology is rooted in The African Continuum grown on principles of communal and collaborative practices of the primary, first, original, source of human life and thereby of art.  

It is in this methodology that Black Womxn convened to create this work, the beginning of a longer process. We will continue to have conversations with womxn of the diaspora from all over the world and will also be hosting a book club. We plan to have a staged reading of 'Dispersed' Fall 2021 with a full virtual production slated for February of 2022 and a live production and tour when it is safe.

Assistance Related to COVID

As of January 18, 2021, all older adults in Washington state over the age of 65 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. People 50 and older who live in multigenerational households are also eligible if they meet certain conditions. Due to limited supply of vaccine, not everyone will be able to access a vaccine right away. Access will improve as the supply chain widens and providers in King County receive more doses.

Getting an appointment to get the vaccine has sometimes been a frustrating experience - checking dozens of sites, refreshing browsers, etc. I encourage you to visit CovidWA.com, a site built by volunteers, that collects information from vaccine providers around the state so it's much easier to find and book an appointment to receive a COVID vaccine. The site is updated frequently, sometimes by the minute, so check it often to find vaccine availability:

Find a COVID Vaccine Appointment
You can read more about the expanded vaccination eligibility here.

Financial Assistance and Resources


Food Distribution
Food Lifeline continues to distribute free food boxes (meat and vegetables) at the Rainier Beach Community Center on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the last couple of weeks, 900+ boxes were distributed to families in need. This service has been extended to March 2021.
 
Utility Discount Program
The Utility Discount Program (UDP) offers eligible customers a 60% discount on their Seattle City Light bill and a 50% discount on their Seattle Public Utilities bill. UDP is available for income-qualified residential households. Complete the online enrollment form at this website. The form is in English. For language support, please call (206) 684-0268 to speak to a representative.
  
Child Care Copay Relief
The City of Seattle recently announced that child care copay relief for income-eligible families will be extended through March 2021. The City will cover 50% of the remaining copay costs for all families participating in the Department of Education and Early Learning’s (DEEL) Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and scholarship-eligible families participating in Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) child care.

COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day Proclamation

Image courtesy of the Seattle PI, Creative Commons

Next Monday, I'll be introducing a proclamation designating Monday, March 1st, 2021 as COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day. In doing so, we'll be joining cities across the country to take a pause and reflect on the tragedy, loss, and havoc COVID-19 has left in our communities.  As I type, our country nears 500,000 deaths (that's 1 in every 670 Americans) from coronavirus; almost a year to the day we lost our first life to COVID-19.  And those rates are worse in BIPOC communities -- 1 in every 475 Native Americans and 1 in every 645 Black Americans (compared to 1 in every 825 white Americans) has died of coronavirus. Inequities compound in prison populations, and through the vaccine distribution process. 

Locally, our COVID infection and death rate has been lower than many other cities, in large part due to our early interventions, public health response, and individuals stepping up to stay quarantined and keep their masks on in public spaces.  But, the hundreds of deaths in the City are still unacceptable and cause pain to so many.  I'm honored to be presenting this proclamation and thank my colleague, CM Herbold, for her partnership.  In honor of the recognition that this moment requires big "P" policy changes so systematically address the inequities we see in who contracts covid and who dies from the disease, and recognizing that this is an all-hand-on-deck situation that requires small “p" personal acts as well, in addition to the proclamation I have been volunteering at local vaccine clinics, volunteering at a local Food Bank packing boxes to address food insecurity and continuing to push for equitable and quick access to vaccines.  I'd love to hear from you what you're doing, what we can be doing to fight this virus, and what true city public health leadership looks like.  Until then, I'll be holding everyone who has experienced a loss, who's recovered from COVID, who is currently battling COVID, and who is experiencing financial insecurity, mental health trauma, and more, close.

I’d like to extend a special bit of gratitude to Olisa for her words this week and to echo her sentiments. I look forward to the continuation of our vaccine rollout and being together in the future at live music and theater events again when it is safe.
In solidarity,
Teresa Mosqueda
#BlackLivesMatter

Seattle City Council Councilmember, Position 8
teresa.mosqueda@seattle.gov
206-684-8806
Copyright © 2021 Seattle City Council, All rights reserved.


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