By day (usually), Yazmin Mehdi runs the Business/Marketing side of Crosscut.com. Last night, however, she was one of the 975 volunteers who fanned out across King County to count the homeless. This is what she discovered: "I spent one and a half hours walking around Green Lake this morning with a group of five friends. We spent some time chatting and enjoying each other's company, and on another occasion it might have been fun and relaxing, but not at 2:30 in the morning. Not in 30 degree weather. Not looking for the homeless in an attempt to count how many people live without shelter. It was eye-opening. It was sobering. And it had the desired result. The One Night Count is an annual event sponsored by the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness. For 28 years, this organization has called on volunteers to form teams of 4-6 and walk a particular segment of the county to count the homeless. The stated purposes are "to document the nature and extent of homelessness, and to build public engagement around the issue so that more people will speak and act and write and advocate to end this crisis." Last year, volunteers counted 2,159 people without shelter. They don't count every square inch of the county, so SKCCH considers this a minimum count. Some researchers believe the actual count is three times this number. My team and I scrambled up and down wooded ravines, searched under trees, and tried to keep track of each other in the darkness. We found evidence of people living in the area: a pair of warm gloves that someone clearly could have used on this night along with information about emergency services for men and free meal programs, a beautiful altar decorated with rocks, twigs, leaves, some tinsel and even a Christmas ornament that seemed to be someone's attempt at a holiday celebration, and yes, one person deeply ensconced in a sleeping bag in a makeshift shelter. While teams in other parts of Seattle likely spent the wee hours counting upwards of 100 people during their search, each of the members of my team had a lot of time to reflect on what it would be like to have to find shelter in a dark, wooded area, and to try to stay warm outside in the winter. What tree would you pick? How would you stay out of the wind? What leaves or detritus provide the best padding? How would you handle the dampness of frost? What would you do if someone came upon you in the night with a flashlight? We were grateful to find only one person. To learn more about the One Night Count go to www.homelessinfo.org where you'll find more information about SKCCH and last year's One Night Count report. Also, check out the video by NonFiction Photography on YouTube.