Why a “Year In Review”? Three reasons: to show potential recruits and the curious exactly what we do; to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of our teammates; to inspire anyone who’s wanting to help their communities with very little or no money, and with or without a team.

The Washington Initiative was focused heavily on developing training in 2016 and solidifying what our team would be focused on moving forward while juggling the demands of a new baby!

As we narrowed our focus, we realized that our strengths fall into three categories:
– Training & Connecting (sourcing opportunities, developing & delivering)
– Event Safety (research, logistics, medical and de-escalation)
– Focused Outreach Projects (research, soliciting donations, assembling, dispersing)

The WAI made a concentrated effort to source a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for people in the Greater Seattle area in 2016; between the Red Cross, the Volunteer Match website, MeetUp and making contacts / connections with various social justice groups in the area, we were excited to find new ways to show our community how easy it is to get involved and do some good.

Since 2013, the WAI has been involved in Seattle’s annual May Day protests, providing immediate medical aid / supplies and water to whomever needs it – protestors, law enforcement officers, bystanders, etc. This year, as last year, we teamed up with team U.S.I.D. and additional volunteers to de-escalate rioting, provide crowd control and prevent looting on the streets of downtown Seattle. For a full account of our interaction, check it out here: http://bit.ly/1T3yBeJ

In May, we developed “Veteran Care Packs”; these mini-backpack sized packages are filled with items that a veteran may find useful in the event of severe triggering or PTSD-related anxiety, such as a deck of cards, a miniature notebook, pen, earplugs, hard candies, handwarmers, notes of encouragement, and a flier with a link to an ‘online care pack’ where they can find links to suicide prevention chatrooms, calming playlists and more. To check out the Veteran Care Pack website, head here: http://waiseattle.wixsite.com/veterancarepacks

In June, the WAI created large signs of support and encouragement for a Muslim mosque that had been vandalized and received bomb threats, and held those signs outside of their facility. This led to a news story, creating more support for the mosque in a time of fear and uncertainty.

September saw the support of National Preparedness Month, and we were busy giving Seattle-specific updates about how to keep yourself, your family, your neighborhood, your community and your workplace safe in the case of a natural disaster. It was great to put our C.E.R.T. training to use!

Finally, in November – the day after Election Day, Temper and her husband (Evocatus, of the former Rain City Superhero Movement), created large signs that read “FREE HUGS” and stood outside a major park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, long known and respected as our ‘Gay Capitol’, to show love and support during a time of fear.

In addition to teaching free self-defense and situational awareness classes (as taught to us by our California branch leaders), and in response to the presidential election and the horrific treatment of Muslims, the black community, women and LGBTQ, we developed our own bystander intervention training! Called “Breaking the Bystander Effect”, it has been wildly successful, with grassroot organizations, nonprofits and small businesses alike requesting training as soon as possible.