Campground

Other obligations prevent me from writing something new for this week. I may not be able to write anything new for quite a while. Instead, this old article that was re-posted from my other blog in May of 2018 will be posted again. (I am getting significant mileage out of this article.) The other blog happens to be a gardening blog, which is why this says more about the trees than about the campsite below them. This is the article below:

There happen to be quite a few campgrounds in the region, with one about a quarter of a mile upstream from where this picture was taken, and another less than three miles past that. Both are primarily used by school age children. The vast redwood forests with creeks flowing through are ideal for such campgrounds.

This is a campground too. I know it does not look like it. It is located between a creek and an industrial building, the eave of which is visible in the top right corner of the picture. The herd of dumpsters that is barely visible at the bottom of the picture might include a dozen dumpsters at at time. (I tried to get both the eave and the dumpsters in one picture.) There really are two rows of barbed wire on top of that fence behind the dumpsters.

Nonetheless, it is a campground. You see, individuals who lack adequate shelter occasionally camp on a flat spot next to the creek, right below the big cottonwood tree in the middle of the picture. It is not a big space, so can only accommodate one or maybe two people at a time. No one has been there for quite a while. Yet, on rainy days like today, it is saddening to imagine someone camping there, so close to inaccessible buildings.

Because the area is outside of landscaped areas, I do nothing to make it any more comfortable as a campground. I only cut away the limbs that fall onto the fence.

The trees are a mix of mostly box elders, with a few cottonwoods and willows, and even fewer alders, with one deteriorating old bigleaf maple. They concern me. Box elders, cottonwoods and willows are innately unstable. All but bigleaf maple are innately structurally deficient. Although bigleaf maple should innately be both stable and structurally sound, the particular specimen in this situation is in the process of rotting and collapsing.

I really do not mind if limbs or entire trees fall into the forested riparian zone. If they fall outward, they do not damage the dumpsters. Only the fence needs to be repaired. What worries me are the potential residents of the campground. Part of my work is to inspect trees for health, stability and structural integrity, and if necessary, prescribe arboricultural procedures to make them safe. I just can not do that here.

UPDATE: Just after this article posted at midnight, a very big box elder off to the right of those in the picture fell with a loud but quick crash. It was probably the biggest and most deteriorated of the box elders in this area, and pulled completely out of the ground to reveal that the roots were so decayed, that none stayed attached to the stump. Seriously, you should see the pictures when they get posted next Sunday.

Advantages Of Homelessness

Many of the disadvantages of homelessness are obvious. There are many more that are not so obvious. Those who have experienced homelessness would not likely recommend it to others who have not experienced it.

Domestic lifestyles are generally more pleasant, and generally afford more options for correction of that which might be unpleasant about them.

Yet, those with securely domestic lifestyles commonly complain about what their lifestyles entail. Furthermore, they sometimes attempt to correct perceived deficiencies of their respective lifestyles by unproductive means.

Some of the homeless are just as likely to comment on some of the advantages of homelessness, and often express gratitude for assistance from those with securely domestic lifestyles.

The main advantage of homelessness might be the lack of major expenses, such as mortgages and rents. The associated costs of property taxes and home owners’ insurance are also negated. Most of the homeless lack cars, so need not pay for gasoline or automotive insurance. Even fewer owe monthly payments for automotive loans. The cost of living homeless is quite minimal.

A less obvious advantage of homelessness is the opportunity to experience and benefit from the incredible generosity and compassion of the Community. It is how those of us with the least resources somehow manage to procure what we need. No one goes hungry for long here. Everyone seems to get enough clothing. Some are offered gainful employment.

In fact, many of the homeless acquire significantly more than minimal necessities. During the past several years, several local homeless people were able to relocate for employment or stable domestic situations because of the financial assistance of others. Some were given tools necessary for employment, or even vehicles with which to get to employment.

Many who perceive homelessness to be a problem take the initiative to be proactive about it.

Firewood

Some of us have done good business with firewood. Only a few have cut, split and sold it as a career. More have done so temporarily between occupations. There are always trees that need to be removed. There is also a seasonal need for firewood. The work is not easy, but it can be somewhat lucrative, which is helpful for those lacking better income.

The quantity of firewood consumed locally must be significantly less than what is consumed in harsher climates. Winters are neither very cold, nor very long here. That is why trees need not be cut down just for firewood. Plenty of firewood is retrieved from trees that fall or need to be removed. Nonetheless, there is plenty of work processing firewood for those who want it.

Firewood season never ends here. No one is in a rush to get their wood stacked before spring so that it is seasoned prior to the following autumn. Much of the firewood available is already seasoned. As long as there is enough seasoned firewood, a bit of green wood that is procured too late can be left for the winter afterward.

Not many here seem to be particularly discriminating about the type of firewood they burn. Oak and tan oak are typically preferred, but anything combustible seems to do, even fir.

Those who purchase firewood here are likely to purchase if from someone who happens to have a pickup full of it for sale, rather than make arrangements with a more reputable supplier. It makes business a bit easier for those who just cut firewood between other occupations. Of course, many woodcutters have regular clientele, just like more significant firewood businesses.

A healthy society does more than support local business, by also supporting those who lack full time businesses or employment.

Unemployment

Information regarding the main causes of homelessness is always confusing. There are too many dynamic variables to limit the precision of data, even within a specific region and time range. Nonetheless, unemployment is consistently one of the most common causes of initial homelessness. Most studies rank it at the main cause. Others rank it as the second most common cause.

While so many were unable to work during the ‘Stay At Home’ order, the Eviction Moratorium was enacted to temporarily prevent evictions of the unemployed who were unable to pay their rent or mortgages. Otherwise, more of us could have become homeless by now. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect solution, and temporarily deprives landlords of their needed rental revenue.

Now that so many are able to return to work and earn revenue again, the past due accounts of rents and mortgages will continue to be a major expense for those who do not earn much more than a modest cost of living. Some could still become homeless. Some might need to relocate. Because some businesses will not recover, some of us will likely need to seek other employment.

Unpleasant predictions of increasing homelessness during the next few months might not be totally inaccurate, but mostly seem to be exaggerated. Most landlords and mortgage holders are likely to be more willing to negotiate reimbursements of delinquencies in order to avoid foreclosures and vacancies. It might be difficult to replace tenants while so many can not afford rents.

It seems that most within our Community who are still unable to work have already procured alternative employment. For some, such alternative employment is only temporary until they can resume their normal employment. Although no one should have become homeless because of unemployment during the eviction moratorium, a few are planning to relocate.

Where Are They Now?

Where have all the houseless people gone? There are noticeably fewer of them here now than there were only a few years ago. Some have gone nowhere, but are merely no longer houseless and prominently visible about town. Some have relocated in order to procure a domestic situation. For some, relocation is only temporary for employment. Many are doing remarkably well.

It has been several years since a lady who had lived in a camper here purchased a relatively luxurious home in Arizona, and then invited another friend to live there with her. It was a major change of lifestyle for both of them, but they adapted well, and now enjoy living there. The second friend to go would prefer to eventually return to Felton though. There’s no place like home.

A formerly houseless couple who had been living both here and Copperopolis procured a home in Copperopolis three or four years ago, and continues to visit friends here every few months. They have been to Colorado at least twice to visit another formerly local houseless gentleman who relocated there several years ago, in about 2012. He now lives with his daughter’s family.

In about 2013, another formerly local houseless couple purchased a comfortable home in Fremont. The camper they had previously inhabited stayed parked next to their garage for quite a while before they finally sent it to a recyclery. It was not easy. That old camper had been their home through some very difficult times, as well as some excellent times. ‘Home Sweet Home’.

Even without their names, their stories are gratifying. There are more like these, and there will continue to be more. If only there were more stories of houseless people finding homes than there are of people losing homes, until everyone lives in a home.

Big City Homelessness

Homelessness may not be more prevalent in all big cities than it is here, but it can be more visible where it is more concentrated. Nearly one percent of the populace of California is currently homeless. If that many are homeless in Felton, they are not obvious about it. Some reside with friends, or camp out discretely in their vehicles. Others make camp where obscured by forest.

Residing temporarily with friends may be no more difficult in big cities than it is here, but the other options are. There are fewer places to park discretely, and fewer forests to obscure even a minimal campsite. Furthermore, there are many more homeless people competing for the same very limited supply of discrete and obscured real estate in which to park or establish camp.

The ratio of homeless people relative to the rest of the populace may be no greater in big cities, but the total number of homeless people is overwhelming. One percent of the million people in San Jose is ten thousand, although not so many there are homeless. The population of Los Angeles is four times that of San Jose! Sadly, more than forty thousand people are homeless there.

Vast residential areas within these big cities lack resources that homeless people need to be close to, so in that regard, are inhospitable to homelessness. Consequently, the homeless populace tends to congregate where resources and campsites that are perceived to be discrete are more available. However, it is impossible for so many congregated homeless people to stay discrete.

We are very fortunate to reside within a Community that is so generously accommodating, and where those who want to assist homeless people are more able to do so. Homelessness here is not such a daunting problem like it is in bigger cities.

Vandalism

The little Memorial Tree was found to be askew late Wednesday afternoon.

This would have been an ideal time for a seasonal update on the little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park. Until recently, it had been healthier and growing more vigorously than it had since it was installed a few years ago. It had survived major accidental damage, and was just beginning to thrive. Sadly though, it was so severely vandalized that recovery is unlikely.

About a month ago, someone was seen briefly rummaging about the base of the tree, as if retrieving something that was dropped. Upon closer inspection, the observer noticed what seemed to be some sort of fertilizer, which was not considered to be a problem. A few days later, someone else recognized it as common salt, which is toxic to young plants, and promptly removed it.

Last Wednesday, the Memorial Tree was observed to be askew and separated from its supportive stake, which seemed to be the sort of minor damage incurred by something as simple as a dog getting its leash tangled with it. However, as the tree was straightened and staked, three fresh saw cuts were observed in the trunk. Each cut severed the trunk about half way through.

A vandal is intent on depriving the Community of this Memorial Tree. That is what vandals do. They destroy assets, which are very commonly assets of Society. Of all the Memorial Trees in Felton Covered Bridge Park, this specific vandal specifically targeted the Memorial Tree that was contributed to Society by the Homeless of Felton, who innately have the least to contribute.

We will consult with the Santa Cruz County Parks Department this week about the future of this Memorial Tree or its potential replacement. However, the next Memorial Tree will likely be a Memorial Grove of several coast live oaks, perhaps with cedars to the east and west, in a less accessible but very visually prominent location near the western end of Mount Hermon Road.

Although the Memorial Tree initially seemed to be undamaged, three major cuts were found in the trunk.

Eviction Moratorium

There are no simple solutions to all the financial difficulties associated with the inability of so many to earn their normal income during this current situation with Coronavirus. So many of us simply can not afford what we could previously afford. Mortgages and rents are the most significant expenses for many who are now unemployed, so many of us will be unable to pay them.

The current eviction moratorium protects those who might otherwise be evicted from their homes or commercial properties for their inability to pay their mortgages or rents. However, it is no remedy for the disruption of revenue that those who own the mortgages or rental properties rely on. Many of them also need to pay mortgages and rents. Everyone has innate expenses.

It will take a while for those who own rental properties to recover from any lapse of revenue, but it will likely be easier than renting to new tenants while so few can afford to rent. Similarly, it will be easier for lending institutions to recover from delinquencies of mortgage revenue than to foreclose on so many properties simultaneously. It is no simple solution, but it likely helps.

The main advantages of eviction moratoriums are that fewer businesses will need to vacate commercial properties, and fewer people will become homeless. These are significant advantages! Homelessness is already a problem for those who are currently experiencing it. Society can certainly do without more functional and formerly gainfully employed people becoming homeless.

We are so fortunate to live within a society that is both very generous to those who lack homes, and proactive in facilitating the retention of homes for those who have them. Otherwise, more of us would likely be homeless soon. Recovery from this currently unpleasant situation will be a long and difficult process.

A New Surplus

Yellow summer squash is almost as abundant as zucchini.

Felton is certainly no place to go hungry in. The generosity here can be a bit overwhelming at times. Surplus of perishable food that must be frozen almost exceeds the capacity of the freezers that we use. Some of the non perishable food gets transferred to a somewhat well stocked pantry where it is shared with anyone in the Community who wants it, regardless of need.

Food distribution between 11:00 and noon on Thursday at Community Bridges still helps by providing more variety of food, but what is procured is shared amongst more significant groups. Some of us take what we get to share with those we work with, because some have not been working as much as they typically do lately. Nonetheless, there is still sometimes a bit of surplus.

Now, there is about to be a little bit more. The vegetable plants that some of us started in various small garden plots have been producing a few minor vegetables, and are just about to start producing more significantly. Even vegetable plants that got started late are catching up with a normal schedule now that days are longer and the weather is warming. It is that time of year.

Frequent harvest of zucchini promotes continual production.

Unfortunately, there could be a slight increase in the need for this minor bit of surplus at about the same time that it becomes available. So many in the Community who rely on tourism and associated industries for revenue will be earning less than normal during what should be the busiest season. Although more can return to work now, fewer tourists can afford to spend much.

Diminished revenue limits any expenditure on the necessities of life. A few of those who are so very generous to us might now benefit from the minor surplus that they helped us to generate.

To enhance production, a few bits of corn tassel will get snipped to dust the silks.

Discrimination of Discrimination

Civilization has always been been influenced by various forms of discrimination. Even in modern America, where we like to believe that most types of discrimination have been dispelled, we are regularly reminded that some of the worst remain. Some forms of discrimination get recycled and reassigned, as if they will be more tolerable if applied to more appropriate victims.

Society can be rather discriminating about who it discriminates against.

People of African descent have always been discriminated against in America. Racists who justify such discrimination might consider them collectively to be more innately prone to thievery, as well as violence, vandalism, addiction, exploitation of social services, and any other social transgression that imaginative racists can conceive. It is what justifies racism and discrimination.

Historically, people of Asian descent, particularly Chinese descent, were collectively considered by racists to be more innately prone to addiction (to opium), as well as thievery and squalorly lifestyles. For a disgraceful period of American history, people of Japanese descent were incarcerated merely because they were racially related to enemies of America during World War II.

Many racists still consider Indigenous People of North America to collectively be more innately prone to alcoholism, as well as the many other transgressions that people of African and Asian descent are similarly blamed for. It is a common and typical pattern of racism and discrimination. Behavior that should be attributed to environment is instead attributed to genetics, or race.

It is easy enough to find pictures or other documentation of people conforming to the stereotypes of their respective racial designation. ‘Nature versus Nurture’ need not be mentioned if the objective is to justify racism and discrimination; although disproportionate conformation typically is mentioned. Justification of racism and discrimination rarely involves the use of any logic.

Now that racial discrimination is very slowly becoming less socially acceptable among common American society, some of those who might otherwise be racist are directing more unfounded hostility to other groups, such as those who are wealthier or more impoverished, including the homeless. Because this sort of discrimination is not racist, society is slightly more tolerant of it.

However, modern American society is realizing that unfounded discrimination against some of the homeless is merely a different flavor of the same recycled racial discrimination that is now so stigmatized. The irrational hostility and lack of logic eventually make it obvious. We have seen it all before, continue to see it, and sometimes see it in initially unrecognizable incarnations.