Members of the grassroots, Oakland-based publication POOR Magazine embarked on an “UnTour” of Seattle March 24 through 26, including a writing workshop with Real Change vendors. The magazine also held a book talk at Left Bank Books, a poetry workshop with Nickelsville residents and a walking tour alongside Lake Washington in Leschi.
According to Lisa “Tiny” Gray Garcia, co-editor and co-founder of POOR Magazine, the media organization is run by and for poor and unhoused Indigenous, Black and Brown people. In addition to producing print media, the organization has branched out to radio, online and social media content as well.
POOR Magazine also started a housing cooperative called “Homefulness” that gave a permanent home to 14 formerly unhoused families. A second site is in development.
Tiny said that Seattle community members were very receptive to the UnTour’s programming and that there were lots of fruitful discussions. One of the philosophies that Tiny presented was about poverty scholarship, a theory published by POOR Magazine that postulates that lived experience of struggle is a form of knowledge.
Tiny said that Seattle had similar violent anti-homeless policies as other parts of the country.
“Seattle … is as brutal and horrible as all these settler towns,” Tiny said.
When the UnTour was about to kick off its welcoming ceremony at Pioneer Square Park on the morning of March 24, Tiny said that the group had to pause its activities to watch three cops engaged in a sweep of an unhoused woman. The heavy police presence stood in contrast to policies in Oakland, where most sweeps are handled by the Department of Public Works.
“What was surprising to me — that was a little different — is the cop presence at that sweep of that one little lady,” Tiny said. “Like, what is she gonna do?”
Tiny said that the organization was looking to collaborate with groups in the Pacific Northwest to establish a third Homefulness site with the aid of wealthier folks who are willing to donate to make the project happen. In spite of all the difficult realities poor people can face, Tiny is hopeful about future possibilities.
“Class hate is intense, but the ancestors are definitely speaking,” Tiny said. “I did a lot of prayer in that occupied Salish– Chief Seattle area. I feel like the ancestors are definitely calling us in.”
Guy Oron is the staff reporter for Real Change. Find them on Twitter, @GuyOron.
Read more of the Apr. 5-11, 2023 issue.