• Local Seattle Action: Vote Yes on I-135

    Local Seattle Action: Vote Yes on I-135

    If you live in Seattle, this year’s February special election includes a ballot measure of note: I-135, which provides for the creation of a social housing authority to administer the development of mixed income affordable social housing in the city.

    If you live in Seattle you probably also know that we’re desperately in need of more housing, especially for low- and no-income residents. A variety of programs exist to address this, but they’re not nearly enough to meet the need, and the addition of a social housing option seems like a no-brainer to help bridge the gaps.

    Why social housing? My quick understanding:

    • Units are allocated to a range of tenants from 0% to 120% area median income, with no more than 30% of income charged as rent, so nobody is rent-burdened, and nobody loses their housing when their income goes down (or up — nobody is priced out of their existing housing).
    • Buildings are managed collectively by their tenants, and rent goes entirely to maintaining the property and eventual investment in further social housing development. Since it’s publicly owned and developed, social housing exists separately alongside the consumer housing marketplace and has no ties to “market rate”.

    Seems like a pretty sweet deal to me, and cities like Vienna, Austria have shown that it can work internationally at scale.

    Normally I wouldn’t put much emphasis on electoral reform here, but this is a great example of a non-reformist reform — a change made within the system that’s inherently liberatory. If housing isn’t tied strictly to income, people have fewer ties to their specific job (or any job at all, ideally). Social housing is an important step toward housing as a human right.

    Check out houseourneighbors.org for full details on the initiative, and vote Yes on February 14th.

  • What’s going on here?

    Hey, everybody!

    Long time no see, to those returning. Nice to meet you, to the new folks.

    Welcome to the new incarnation of Heisei Democracy: a resource for leftist thought and action.

    Some history: back in the mid-aughts, this site was a blog about my life in Japan and related pop culture fixations. The site grew, some other great contributors joined on, and for awhile it was a real passion project for us.

    Regular updates dwindled in 2008 and never really returned. If you’re here from that era, I’m sorry for ghosting. Burnout and subsequent retreat into MMO life was a hell of a thing.

    It’s been quite awhile since I dusted off the old post button, but I’m here to say that as of today HD is back — and making the ultimate content pivot to surviving the apocalypse.

    The past six years or so have been an eye-opening experience. American politics playing out against the backdrop of a climate crisis and an ongoing pandemic have accelerated a thought process that was always lurking in the back of my mind, and what it comes down to for me is this:

    Capitalism has failed.

    The logic of unending growth and extraction that it relies on is killing us, and killing the planet.

    The only way to ensure our collective survival is to abolish or fundamentally change existing structures, and build new, resilient modes of relation that can stand independent of a system that’s collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.

    It’s either (some form of) socialism or barbarism, and I’m picking the side that lets me sleep at night.

    Cards on the table: I’m white, non-disabled, relatively neurotypical, and cis-passing. These privileges inevitably inform my perspective, and I’m hella late to this party. I’m not any sort of authority here. I’ll be doing my best to elevate voices that have been leading the way for a long time, and reinforce and illuminate projects already in progress.

    I’m just one very online person, but my hope is that by gathering resources and sharing the thoughts I’ve had over the past several years I can be of some use in helping others think through what the fuck is going on in the world right now, and help us figure out a path forward.

    The plan is to produce a series of personal essays, alongside reviews and shorter pieces that highlight important work that’s going on in leftist spaces online and on the ground in community. I live in Seattle, so I’ll also be devoting space to local issues both for readers who happen to be in the area and as an example of the sort of opportunities for action that exist in many cities.

    If any of this sounds interesting, by all means stick around — glad to have your company. This is where I’ll be posting primarily, but I can also be found on Twitter (for the time being) at @heiseidemocracy. 

    Until next time: a better world is possible. Let’s build it together.