A Place to Call Home

By Tom Moore When Justine Gonzalez-Berg resettled in Port Townsend in 2016, returning to her primary childhood home, it was because she, “wanted to be in a place where I could be an engaged citizen in a community I cared about and had a connection to.” If she had arrived just a few years later, her return to Port Townsend very likely would not have followed the same arc - an arc of experimentation, passion and civic engagement the kind of which any thriving community wants and needs. “When I moved back, I think a big reason why I stayed was because I ended up in a really great housing situation. A big Victorian house in Uptown with young folks living together. It was super affordable. Living there allowed me to work different jobs, to volunteer, to start Strait Up magazine … I didn't realize how lucky I was.” In the position of Director of Housing Solutions Network (HSN) since 2019, Justine believes times have changed. Today, stories of young professionals, essential workers, and families who cannot afford to live in Jefferson County are common, and are creating a level of insecurity that forces many to move away from home. More and more, the JCF network of change makers are connected to and impacted by these stories. While difficult to hear, and much, much more difficult to endure, HSN has taken the prevalence and awareness of the lack of affordable housing and turned it on its head…

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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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