This year has seen huge growth of the capacity and power of Fuse in Spokane. We’ve grown our local council from eight to 14 active leaders. Our staff and grassroots leaders have helped to power several important campaigns, leveraged Fuse’s success statewide to drive more resources locally, and helped us emerge as one of the most active members of the Spokane Alliance. The Spokane Alliance is a coalition of community organizations dedicated to making Spokane a better place to live. Below are some highlights of our work to date.
Spokane Sick and Safe Leave
No worker should be forced to choose between going to work sick or skipping a paycheck. On January 11, 2016, after two years of a broad based community campaign, the Spokane City Council voted to become the first city in Eastern Washington to pass an earned sick and safe leave ordinance. Fuse played a lead role in the campaign to build public support for the policy, with our partners in the Spokane Alliance. Our Spokane members and staff engaged local businesses in the campaign, organized press events and actions, recruited dozens of people to speak to city council, and generated more than 300 comments to the city council.
Fuse leaders before they testified on Sick and Safe Leave at City Hall. Many of their stories have since been used by city council members to defend the policy.
Mental Health and Public Safety
Spokane County spends more than 70 percent of its budget on the criminal justice system. It is estimated that half of the people in jail are booked on non-violent charges and 60 percent of the inmates housed in our jail have clinical mental health and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or substance use disorders that contribute to perpetual offending. Additionally, we are incarcerating a disproportionate number of people of color in our jail compared to our population. Fuse staff and local leaders are playing a lead role in the Spokane Alliance’s Public Safety and Mental Health Committee to address this issue. We are advocating for a Jail Diversion Facility for people in mental health and substance use crises to move them out of our jail and into treatment in the community. We’ve also formed a partnership with Smart Justice Spokane Coalition to build support for a jail diversion facility in the community. If you would like to get involved in the campaign contact: Jim Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our expanded role in Spokane has also helped provide strategic help to small local efforts and to connect statewide campaigns with local organizations on a wide range of issues from opposing anti-immigrant ballot measures, addressing climate change, to standing with Planned Parenthood after the arson attack on their Pullman center.
Pierce and South King County
Due to the success of our local organizing work in Spokane, we’ve expanded our organizing efforts in Pierce and South King County. Our goal is to build capacity, train leaders, and help the most important campaigns succeed.
Pies and Politics
No (wo)man is an island. The same is true for issues. When we started working with volunteers in Pierce County, we realized how many community members said they felt stretched and isolated by the issues critical to their community. We brainstormed ideas that would bring everyone together and lend a comfortable starting point to discuss difficult topics, and came up with an overwhelmingly successful idea: serving up various dessert pies with discussions of local political issues. Together with 40 community members, Fuse staff and volunteers chowed down while discussing their personal experiences working on campaigns ranging from affordable housing to education. The informal setting allowed us to delve deeper into trends, solutions, and ways to problem solve recurring roadblocks to success.
Pies and Politics gathering
Ensuring ALL children have the opportunity to succeed in King County.
King County currently spends 75 percent of our budget on the criminal justice system. Led by King County Executive Director Dow Constantine, we helped work on a plan to increase access to healthy food, affordable housing, and disease prevention for many of King County’s most vulnerable children. Investing early helps ensure all kids have the opportunity to thrive, not just the ones born into homes with resources. Volunteers worked together to learn about the issue and brief members throughout South King County.