Downtown Seattle “home of the crack dance and the heroin sway”

Some follow up from our last Mental Map Interview.

Tupelo is a Section 8 resident living in one of the few Affordable buildings in Downtown Seattle. She has lived downtown 15 years on Section 8 housing; first in Belltown for 10 years, then was dislocated and found new housing at 3rd & Pine. Tupelo is also a disabled Veteran. She expressed a need to live downtown for walkability to things she needs. She has now found what she needed in a place she calls “Home of the Crack Dance and the Heroin Sway”.

Tupelo MM 2

You have likely passed her building entrance while shopping downtown, or avoid the street altogether. Tupelo lives at 3rd & Pine, along 3rd Street on the stretch from Pine to Pike. The entrance to her building is between McDonald’s and 7-Eleven. If you’ve ever walked around shopping downtown you know the McDonald’s as a navigating landmark – it’s across from Macy’s.

I personally feel extreme discomfort when I walk along this strip. I keep my eyes looking downward. I try not to breathe in through my nose due to smells of dirt, urine, and drugs. I mentally lock down to ignore the catcalls, harassment, violent fighting, people exposing themselves, and peddling. Several months ago I noticed a doorway that people were sleeping in front of. Could this be apartments?? Could someone actually live here??

Yes. Tupelo lives here. It’s the place she was able to find under affordable housing after being dislocated from Belltown. The experience of moving here was difficult. Her previous home in Belltown was where she lived for 10 years – a real home. With the gentrification of Belltown, the Non Profit running her home sold the building to a For Profit. Her rent was raised $90 and she had less than 2 months to move. With little financial resources, no car, and a disability, Tupelo had to figure something out.

She made her way to a new Section 8 apartment above the McDonald’s.

“There is always someone sleeping in the doorway. There’s often feces, wine. Always drug use: deals going on, needles, using. I call it “Home of the Crack Dance and the Heroin Sway””

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April 2018 Updates

Hey everyone! Apologies for the delay in content. It’s been a busy time for the Conscious Maps Project, and hopefully this is just the beginning! We’ve made some great connections with Vanishing Seattle, Rainier Avenue Radio, the Backpack Brigade, and tons of local researchers, writers, photographers, and documentarians.

Seattle-ites, please reach out to the Backpack Brigade if you can volunteer, especially on Friday mornings! We need drivers! Help bring food to local kids who need it!

We’ve also been featured on Rainier Avenue Radio on this week’s “Seattle Here and Now”. Natasha was interviewed along with Sarah Baker, current president of the Japanese American Citizens League. Check out our interview on the Rainier Ave Radio website, or on the TuneIn App on this channel.

Catch the last two shows on Friday 4/6 11am, and Saturday 4/7 at 1pm.

And finally, we will be getting back to posting about our last few Mental Map Interviews.

Please contact if you’d like to share your story. We’re here to put more on the map!

“Draw a Picture of Your Neighborhood…”


A map drawn by a youth of their neighborhood. The term “map” used in the less traditional way than we’re used to. Exact accuracy is not the goal here, but to find out what is important to this person’s world. They navigate through their own neighborhood with an image in their mind of how it’s laid out. It’s not always with street names or distances, but with emotions, memories, experiences, people attached to places. Street corners, parks, their house, their friend’s house, the old lady’s house, etc.

Here’s what we see:

Housing blocks. “Houses A”, “Houses B”, and “Houses C” blocks.
This may be how they decided to present their map to me for this assignment, or this may really be how they think of their neighborhood.
Parks. We see parks attached to each block. This youth must see their neighborhood as “full of parks”, or this may be a representation of how they spend most of their time. In parks, playing. Parks must be an important part of their life. Which makes sense; they’re a child, they like to play outside!
School. School is a large landmark on this map. School is typically the most important place in a person’s life, until adulthood and beyond. The school is a landmark here.
Community Space. This is the box to the right that says “parting and cumpert class”. I interpret this to be partying and computer class. This community space is for residents to use, for parties, and there are computer classes held here. It’s no surprise this youth likes to use the computer, and go to community member events, or “parties”. This is an important part of their daily life. The culture of their life in this neighborhood.

The intent of collecting a map from a youth is to get a raw form of how they think as they move through space. Children are not bogged down with exact street names. They may think more in “how many blocks” to a place. How long it takes to get there. What time of day is better to walk here and there. Who they will see along this route and that route.

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Seattle Recruiting

Hey Seattleites, Ex-Seattleites, and PNW-ers of Washington State:
Have you been Evicted, Priced Out, or Gentrified?

Share your Story!

The Conscious Maps Project is interviewing residents of Seattle and collecting stories. We want to hear your story about the rising cost of housing and living in Seattle. While the city economy grows, more people are pushed out. The stories of those people pushed out are part of what made Seattle. Those stories should not be lost.

We interview residents, immigrants, homeless, and low-income. Stories are shared via website and social media. If you are interested in sharing your story please comment below or use our Contact Info to email. You will need to sign a consent form for this interview, draw on a map, and tell any story you like. This is unpaid research.

Please email me to sign up, and share with your coworkers, friends, and social media. We want to share everyone’s stories!!

Thank you!!