Like it or not, Seattle is changing, and not necessarily for the better.
A series of news articles over March confirm what many of us already know. Our city has become more unaffordable to nearly everyone. Rents are at their highest levels proportional to incomes in 20 years. In-city home prices have risen out of reach. Inequality is growing.
According to new census figures, incomes for the richest tenth rose by 9 percent in 2005 while average incomes for the bottom 90 percent fell. More and more of us are feeling the economic vulnerability that increased inequality creates.
The role of Real Change in our community — as a bridge between the haves and the have nots, as an independent media source that watchdogs the issues you care about, as an organization that builds for power and supports a broad progressive movement — is more critical than ever.
This year we set a very big goal for our summer fund drive: $140,000. This money will strengthen our organizing resources, fund critical infrastructure to create long-term stability, and firm up our capacity to publish a quality weekly paper with just 2.5 dedicated news staff.
We need to do this. And with your help, we will succeed.
In more than a dozen years of leading this newspaper, I can’t remember a time when our work has been either more exciting or necessary, or when our vendors have been more engaged and proud to sell Real Change.
• Circulation and vendors served is at an all-time high, with the number of papers sold this year up 17 percent over that of last year.
• There is considerable momentum locally toward the goal of ending homelessness by 2015, and Real Change has a clear role to play in building and sustaining the political will to make that possible.
• We have redesigned the paper to attract new readers with our award-winning content. This will create new levels of success for our vendors and enhance our capacity to mobilize for social change.
• Recent advocacy successes have helped us understand that our vendors are often our most effective messengers. As an organization we are focused on building vendor leadership to move an anti-poverty advocacy agenda.
• Beginning this year, Real Change will regionalize our readership and advocacy by building a network of satellite distribution locations.
Our broad base of community support makes all of this work possible. Last year, reader donations from more than 1,000 contributors made up 45 percent of our funding.
While 2007 offers many exciting opportunities for our work, there are challenges as well. We remain a relatively small organization that struggles to push forward a very big agenda on limited resources.
I want to hear from you. If you have any questions or concerns about Real Change, or would just like to connect, call me at 441-3247, ext. 202.
Finally, as a part of our organization, we think you should have the opportunity to have the same information we do. Toward that end, we invite you to go behind the scenes at Real Change at realchange.wikispaces.com There, you’ll find our strategic plan, a detailed history, and deep information about our important work.
You can donate using our simple and secure on-line service located at www.realchangenews.org, or make a check out to Real Change and mail it to 2129 Second Ave., Seattle, WA 98121. Thank you for your support.
This summer, we invite you to help support our work by telling 20 of your friends why you support our work, and asking them to make a $20 donation to Real Change. By helping to spread the word and broaden our base of community support, you help to ensure that Real Change will continue to support opportunity for the very poor, publish quality progressive journalism each week on the issues you care about, and build for power through effective organizing and advocacy.
By TIMOTHY HARRIS, Real Change Executive Director