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A temporary installation remembering the homeless who died in King County since September 22nd, 2018. The final date of last year’s Seattle Design Festival.
Conceived as a field of memory, staggered monuments spread out across a vacant residential lot within the city limits of Seattle. The individual markers, fabricated from 1×4 whitewashed gothic picket fencing in the likeness of the Crux Commissa, face south towards Mt Olivet cemetery where their physical remains have or will be interned.
King County Indigent Remains Program
Since 1993 King County has provided free burials for homeless who’s remains are left unclaimed or that their families do not have the finical means to provide for a proper funeral. In most instances, the bodies are cremated and stored in the King County Medical Examiner’s Office until a mass burial can be scheduled (approximately every two years) at Mt Olivet Cemetery in Renton WA.
Although buried in a large group, the remains are held in individual urns and carefully mapped in the event a family member returns to claim them in the future. A marker for each indigent group burial reads ‘Gone But Not Forgotten These People of King County’ with a date of the internment.
In 2018, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office investigated the deaths of 194 individuals presumed to be homeless. A fifteen percent increase from the prior year.
Women in Black
In 2000 WHEEL (the Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League), a grassroots organizing effort of homeless/ formerly homeless women, founded Women in Black vigils to honor and remember homeless people who die outside, in a public place, or by violence in King County. Whenever a death becomes known, sometimes through monthly Medical Examiners lists of presumed-homeless deaths, Women in Black stand an hourlong silent vigil in front of the Municipal Courthouse/ Seattle Justice Center at noon the following Wednesday.
To join the Women in Black vigils please call 206 956 0334 or email [email protected]
Homeless Remembrance Project
In 2003, Women in Black, joined together with faith-based supporters, design professionals, social service providers and homeless people to form a Homeless Remembrance Committee. They created a permanent memorial to honor people who’ve experienced homelessness and died in King County. Scattered across the city, bronze Leaves of Remembrance bearing the name and dates of person are placed in the public right away (sidewalk), currently at 16 different host locations. These Leaves have fallen from the Project’s Tree of Life Sculpture and gathering place in Victor Steinbrueck Park. Anyone can request a Leaf be made in honor of their lost one’s memory. Currently, there is a backlog of more than 100 Leaves that have yet to be dedicated.
For more information on the Homeless Remembrance Project or to see how to donate or support his Project please visit their websites.