Dreams of My Ancestors

Stories of community impact brought to you by our wonderful volunteer storytellers, writer Tom Moore and photographer Jon Kaplan. “When I see my land, I want to sing. When I see my land, I want to cry.” * For millennia Jefferson County has been inhabited by the Coast Salish Tribes including the S’Klallam, Suquamish, Makah, Chemakum, Quileute, and Twana/Skokomish nations. Today, however, some historians believe the Chemakum people to be extinct. Naiome Krienke disagrees. Her heritage is S’Klallam and Makah, but her bloodline began generations ago as Chemakum. Her great, great grandparents and family lived on the lands ranging from Port Townsend to Hood Canal. As a young child, Naiome would hear from her teachers, “Oh no, sweetie, the Chemakum people are extinct.” As a young woman, Naiome desired to rediscover the narratives of her ancestors, and to make it known to indigenous and non-indigenous people alike that Chemakum are not extinct. They are here and have stories to tell. Now, in her 40’s, she has the opportunity to do exactly that.  Early this year, Naiome brought her vision to Jefferson Community Foundation (JCF). Inspired by her story and the legacy she intended to build, staff set to task connecting her with like-minded donors and community partners in JCF’s network of changemakers. The result was a grant supporting not only research into Chemakum history but the construction of a traditional community longhouse. All to, “bring the culture of the longhouse back to Chemakum / S’Klallam territory. To…

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Avant Garde Approach to the Housing Crisis

Laura Jean Schneider ljschneider@ptleader.com There’s an avant garde approach to the housing crisis right here in Port Townsend: Applicants will need to make it through several rounds of interviews. They need proof of reliable income, because 20 percent will go toward rent. They must be willing to undergo state and federal background checks and be in good standing in their community. Approved tenants are required to help upkeep their community grounds and attend weekly meetings. Tenants share one meal per day in a communal kitchen. There’s 24-hour security on site, easy access to public transportation, schools, medical care, and a grocery store. It’s a weapon and substance-free community, with enforced quiet hours. Applications can be obtained from Bayside Housing and Services. Address? Well, it could be a modest lot between Ninth and Rosecrans streets, arguably the most contested soil in Jefferson County right now. PREJUDICE, PERHAPS PRIDE“I’m one of those really fortunate people who have lived a really charmed life,” said Debbi Steele. She moved to Port Townsend in 2007, where she started the Jefferson Community Foundation’s Fund for Women & Girls, and founded the Wearable Art Contest to fundraise for it. Recently, she’s become involved with the Community Build Project, a volunteer-run organization that helps craft homes for those in need. After trying her hand at slapping on paint, which she admits she was miserable at, she took over as volunteer coordinator. “We want to build community,” she said, and in this case, that’s literal. She…

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Nature & Nurture: Caring for Our Children and Community

By Tom Moore, JCF Volunteer Jefferson County is a child care desert. Child Care of Washington reports there are only 166 licensed child care slots for the 962 children under the age of 5 in the county. This represents a decrease of 303 spots from 2015 to 2020, while the number of infants born to local families over the past three years has ranged from 166 to 199 annually. Based on these numbers, Jefferson County has child care capacity for only 5% of all children 0-3 years old. With 65% of families having parents working outside the home about 625 of the 962 children under the age of 6 are left needing child care. In addition, between 2015 and 2020, Jefferson County lost five licensed child care programs. Making this situation even worse, a recent study by Lending Tree found a 55% increase in child care costs per child in Washington during the pandemic, with the statewide average annual cost of child care rising from $11,744 to $18,237. The study also found Washington households allocated on average 14% of their income toward childcare. For Jefferson County, whose 2019 median income was $55,127 per household and $29,678 per individual, parents face the prospect of paying an even higher percentage. These statistics are nothing new to local healthcare and education experts. Dunia Faulx, Director of Population Health and Care Transformation at Jefferson Healthcare, states it clearly: “We’ve been saying there's a problem with childcare in this community for the…

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