Posies Leader Speaks Out For Struggling Women's Support Group

Nonprofit founded in reaction to murder of Gits singer is in danger of shutting its doors.

One reason Posies co-leader Ken Stringfellow said he became involved with the Seattle-based Home Alive organization was because the group takes a lead role in helping prevent violence against women.

"They were the first organization that I knew of that was dealing with women's safety issues in such a hands-on, nonpolitical way," he explained.

Now, the nonprofit organization -- which was created in August 1993 in the wake of the still-unsolved rape and murder of Seattle musician Mia Zapata of the punk band the Gits as a way of empowering the community and teaching self-defense and safety techniques -- says it has become a victim itself. But in this case, the problem is money.

And Stringfellow and other supporters say now is the time for the community Home Alive has put its time and energy into to rally behind the organization in its struggle to stay afloat.

"It's been real difficult, because we haven't been able to have too much success getting grants," said Chanel Reynolds, operations manager for the organization, whose stated mission is to "ensure that money is not a barrier for people to learn self-defense techniques, to serve as a reminder to our community that it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves and to get home and be home alive." While the funds raised by the 1996 double-CD Home Alive: The Art of Self Defense -- which featured previously unreleased songs and spoken-word pieces from such mega rock acts as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Joan Jett and X's Exene Cervenka -- helped keep the organization in operation for a while, more substantial funds are needed to keep its doors open, Reynolds said.

Since its founding, Home Alive has provided classes and lectures (on a sliding-scale basis) on self-defense, domestic violence prevention and education, women in the workplace, women in the sex industry, basic self-defense, verbal boundary-setting, weapons safety as well as classes for men, transgendered and young people and workshops in homeless shelters.

As an example of Home Alive's reach, Reynolds said that recently the organization received mail from a young girl in Connecticut who wanted to help out. "She said she couldn't give any money because she was in high school, so she sent us a book of stamps," Reynolds said.

Still, despite getting an office, organizing classes and hiring a development director, she said Home Alive has had little success raising grant money and may be forced to shut its doors by May 31. "Maybe it's because we have an extremely unique mission and foundation money hasn't been able to fit us into their goals. It's difficult to figure out what we do," Reynolds said.

For his part, Stringfellow's band contributed a track entitled "Limitless Expressions" (RealAudio excerpt) to the benefit album, which he described as a song about the type of victimization of women that Home Alive seeks to prevent, as well as played two fund-raisers.

"Women's safety is such a gigantic issue and cannot be dealt with politically like certain poverty and education issues," he said. "Indeed it faces relatively dark issues that are at the core of how humans interact, there is nothing abstract about it, and I think it takes courage to face these kind of issues."

To make a tax-deductible donation, send contributions to: Home Alive, 1122 East Pike Street #1127, Seattle, WA 98122. [Fri., Feb. 13, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]