TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Aug. 4, 2009 at 9:50am

The Winthrop Interviews

The Winthrop's on-again, off-again development plans have been well covered, and many people have quick opinions on what to do with the building: restore it to its original form as an historic hotel; shut it down because of its long reputation as a hub for illicit activity; or find alternative housing so residents aren't concentrated in one high-rise building (a housing model no longer encouraged by low-income / affordable housing advocates). The issue is relevant because Tacoma Housing Authority is currently considering whether or not to purchase the building located at 9th and Commerce downtown.

What has not been told through local media is the residents' stories.

Six weeks ago, I started to work on a series entitled, "Voices From the Winthrop." The idea was simple. Invite anyone living in the Winthrop to meet for 30-45 minutes and candidly discuss a wide range of issues: What is their living situation? How and why did they decide to move into the Winthrop? What is it like living in the building? And what do they think of all the focus on their building in terms of public safety, potential development, etc.?

The first installment appeared in the Tacoma Daily Index on June 16 and profiled Glenn Grigsby, a Winthrop resident who has lived in the building for 15 years and has seen all of its ups-and-downs over those years. Grigsby is someone I met a few years ago at a community meeting, and with whom I have remained in contact. After our interview was published, a few others came forward to speak with me for the series. So far, I've talked to a college student, a single mother, and the Winthrop's equivalent of a minor celebrity -- the so-called 'Yo-Yo Man.' More interviews are in the pipeline.

The series has drawn a decent amount of interest from TDI readers and local affordable housing advocates (Grigsby's interview was the second-most-read article on our Web site in June). True, the residents profiled so far only represent a small group out of a building that houses nearly 200 people. They aren't indicative of everyone in the Winthrop. But the series is a new chapter in the Winthrop's ongoing story.

If you are interested in reading the series to date, here are some links . . .

Glenn Grigsby -- ( Web ) / ( PDF )
Otha Adams -- ( Web ) / ( PDF )
Nanette Colby -- ( Web ) / ( PDF )
John Heffler -- ( Web ) / ( PDF )



CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Heffler, Grigsby, Colby, Adams.

Look for more installments in future editions of the Index.

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