Fire On The Mountain

Burned leaves fell from the sky a mile and a half from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.

Other obligations have prevented me from writing here at a time when there is so much to write about. Even now, I must be brief. I do not yet know when I will be able to resume writing weekly as did I prior to about a month ago.

Coronavirus, or whatever it is known as, necessitated the closure of the Conference Center where I work a few days weekly. The facilities are maintained, but, until recently, unused. Most of us who work there needed to find employment elsewhere. It has been financially difficult for many of us, as well as countless others all over the World.

Then, about a month ago, the entire region was evacuated ahead of the migration of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. Many in the region lost their homes to the Fire, and essentially became homeless. The Community has been as generous and accommodating as it has always been.

As firefighters arrived from so many distant regions, some were accommodated in the otherwise unused lodges of the Conference Center. It was a practical arrangement. They had use for such lodging. Such lodging just happened to be vacant because of the coronavirus.

As firefighters started to vacate the Conference Center and return home, residents of the region also started to return home after evacuation. Some of those who had no homes to return to procured temporary homes from the otherwise unused cabins of the Conference Center. Again, it is a practical arrangement. They had use for cabins that just happen to be vacant.

Also, volunteers who came to the region to assist those who lost their homes as a result of the Fire now reside in some of the lodges that were formerly occupied by the firefighters.

It is unfortunate that there are not sufficient accommodations at the Conference Center for everyone who lost their homes. So much about the situation is unfortunate. The Community will do what it can. Somehow, it always does.

Ash is everywhere.

Hypocrisy – Mugshot

It may be a few more weeks before I am able to continue writing for this blog. For now, this old article will be recycled like those of the previous few weeks were. I am very sorry that I can not write anything new at this time. There is presently quite a bit to write about. I may post a brief article in the middle of the week about how some of those who are homeless because of the CZU Lightening Complex Fire are procuring temporary homes locally.

Felton League

There is a reason why no illustration accompanies this post. The picture that I wanted to use is just too unflattering.

It is a mugshot of an old friend who had been arrested for trying to get into a car that he believed belonged to his nephew, and then getting combative with Santa Cruz Police Officers who tried to stop him from doing so. He had been missing for three days prior to that, after escaping from the post acute care facility where he lived near the end of his life as he succumbed to a variety of ailments, particularly lung cancer and dementia.

We do not know where he had been or what he had been
doing during those days that he was missing. He could not explain any
of it. He was very tired and very hungry, and looked ghastly by the
time he was found. Fortunately, the…

View original post 412 more words

World Wide Web

Again, because of other obligations, I must recycle this old article rather than write something new for this week. It might be a few weeks before I can resume writing.

We never know who will read what we post online. It is not like old fashioned newspapers that could only be read as far away as the printed pages got dispersed. Everyone with access to the internet has access to this.

Nowadays, there is nothing unusual about that. Just about everything is online. What is unusual is that so many outside of our distinguished Community are interested in reading about us.

This ‘blog’ (Gads! I hate that word!) is not even a month old, and contains only a few brief posts that are not particularly compelling. Yet, posts have been read by quite a few visitors, including some who are nowhere near here. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is rather gratifying. It is just unexpected.

Many of the issues that concern our minor local Community are common concerns that affect many other Communities all over the World. Nonetheless, different societies contend with such issues in their own unique ways. Are our techniques somehow relevant to other cultures and other societies? How similar are they? How are they different?

It will be interesting to see where outside of America our posts get read. So far, they have been read in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, France, Switzerland and China. If it were possible, it would also be interesting to see where within American the vast majority of those reading our posts are located.

Furthermore, all this interest in our distinguished Community stimulates interest in others who are concerned with some of the same issues that concern us, but from within the context of potentially very differnt cultures. Is homelessness really as tolerable in India as so many of us believe it to be? How do the homeless of Switzerland survive the dangerously harsh winters? That is what the World Wide Web is for.

Minimal Turnout

The recycled article below is more than a year old, from a time when groups could gather. It may not seem to be relevant while there are no social events, but it will eventually become relevant again. It will be interesting to see how minimal the turnout for some of our familiar social gatherings will be. It was already very minimal prior to the current situation. So many who had formerly lacked a domestic situation or employment have become too busy with new domestic and professional obligations to attend.

(I am sorry that I am presently unable to write new articles as I had been. I do not know when I will resume. As I mentioned, the article below is recycled from more than a year ago.)

Big crowds are proportionate to the popularity of an event. They are sort of expected at exhibits of famous art, important baseball games, and Aaron Tippin concerts. There was quite a crowd at the Felton Remembers Parade and Covered Bridge Festival.

Smaller events draw much smaller but relatively significant groups. It is always nice to see children celebrating birthday parties in Felton Covered Bridge Park. Community Bridges (Mountain Community Resources or MCR) still does play dates for children there as well.

Our group is very unique. We get good turnout for our special events too, if we plan ahead for them, and extend invitations. Otherwise, for regularly scheduled events, such as lunch at Felton Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, and lunch at Saint John’s on Thursday, minimal attendance is an indication that more of us are doing well, and are unable to attend because we are at work, or busy with other responsibilities.

It is not as if we are an exclusive group that others want to be members of. Although just about anyone can join, most do so only out of necessity, but prefer to move onto better situations.

There were more of us in 2013 than there are now. Those who have joined our group since then have been less numerous than those who have found homes and employment. There are now fewer of us than there have been in a very long time. In that sense, minimal membership is a good thing.

It is unfortunate that this is not a common trend in most other places. Some of the same social difficulties that are less prevalent here than they had been are instead becoming more common elsewhere, particularly in more substantial towns and big cities, such as San Jose, Watsonville and Monterey. Are we doing something differently here?

Food Distribution

Apologies for not posting a new article on schedule last night. As I mentioned a few times during the past few weeks, I will not be able to write new articles for quite a while. Old articles will instead be recycled until I can resume writing. This article is more than a year old. I am very sorry that I can not write about the CZU Lightning Complex Fire now. Even if I had time to write about it, I lack information. I left the region a day prior to the evacuations, and am now just as unable to return as everyone else.

Felton League

No one goes hungry here. Many of us live in poverty. Our lifestyles would be considered to be substandard to most. Yet, we have it pretty good. The generosity of our Community is astounding! Not only is there plenty of food available, but some of it is abundant enough for those with kitchens to can and freeze some of it.

We know how fortunate we are. Not all Communities have the
resources to be so generous.

Some of the food that we get is donated by local supermarkets and
stores. Sushi that is leftover from the day before gets delivered to
Felton Covered Bridge Park a few mornings through the week. It may
not be much, but it is often more than enough for the few there to
take it. Bags of bakery items do not arrive as frequently as they
used to, just because it got to be so…

View original post 150 more words

CZU Lightning Complex Fires

Boulder Creek was evacuated yesterday because of the advancing CZU Lightning Complex Fires that were started just after midnight on August 16. Brookdale and Ben Lomond were evacuated later. Evacuation of Felton began early this morning, less than a day after some of those evacuated from the other Communities had set up camp around town.

Ash and burned leaves had been falling from the sky in several regions, particularly between Los Gatos and Scott’s Valley. Smoke is unusually thick, and had been heavier in the Santa Clara Valley than forest fire smoke had ever been in history.

More information can be found online. However, accurate and practical information is scarce. Presently, some ‘updated’ maps show that the fires are confined to the same few acres near the coast. Others show three larger but still confined fires. The current extent of the fires or combined fire is unknown.

This is an unsettling situation to say the least. These fires have already burned several homes, and will likely burn more, leaving several or many people homeless.

Hypocrisy – Fake Environmentalism

As I mentioned last week, other obligations presently prevent me from writing new posts, perhaps for several weeks. For now, this old article from May of 2019 will be recycled.

Fake environmentalism is a HUGE topic, so for now, will be limited to fake environmentalism as justification for the eviction of homeless encampments.

The yellow triangle in the picture above was the site of the Hero’s Camp, which was more commonly known as Ross Camp, and located behind Ross Dress For Less in Gateway Plaza in Santa Cruz. It is gone now. This satellite image was taken by Google Maps prior to the development of the Camp. I did not get pictures of the camp while inhabited, but you have likely seen enough other camps in the news to imagine what it looked like.

It really was as big as it looks, and really did exhibit all the problems that you hear about in the news, although not to such an exaggerated degree. Not everyone there used syringes to inject illicit narcotics. Not everyone there was an alcoholic. Not everyone was violent, from somewhere else, or a criminal. This is not about such issues anyway. It is about how the two hundred or so unhoused people who lived here affected the environment.

Was there trash? Of course there was. Was it more than what two hundred people who live in homes generate? No. Houseless people do not generate as much trash as the housed, simply because they lack resources to purchase the commodities from which so much trash is generated. The houseless certainly do not waste as much as the housed. Their trash just happens to be more visible for outsiders who do not know any better to see.

Furthermore, what is so typically described and perceived as trash is actually the belongings of those who live in such camps. Without closets, cabinets or furniture, our belongings would look about the same, except much more voluminous. When we take just some of the belongings that we don’t want or need and put them out in front of our homes, it is a garage sale, and likely amounts to much more than individual homeless people own.

The satellite image from Google Maps below shows the neighborhood where my grandparents lived in Felton, less than seven miles north of where the picture above was taken. Their old home is right in the middle of the picture. There were not so many other homes there when they arrived, just as World War II was ending. They lived a relatively modest lifestyle, on a small suburban parcel. They were not concerned about the environment.

Why should they have been? Even now, the people who live in homes here can generate as much trash as they want to, and no one will complain about it. They can fill their homes with their belongings, and put them neatly away in closets, cabinets and drawers. There are alcoholics in this neighborhood, as well as a few who are addicted to illicit narcotics. Some are criminals. Some are violent. Few are native. Again, this is off the main topic.

None of that is visible in this satellite image anyway. What it shows instead is how the lifestyles of those who live in homes are more detrimental to the environment than the lifestyles of those who lack homes. This picture is the same scale as the picture above, so you can see that only a few homes would fit into an area comparable to that in which about two hundred unhoused people lived. Only a few people live in each of these few homes.

What that means is that two hundred people like those who lived at the Hero’s Camp live dispersed over a much larger area, on land from which trees and vegetation needed to be removed. They all live in homes that are made of wood derived from trees that grew in forests. These homes are furnished with synthetic plaster, carpet, paint, glass, vinyl, metals and all sorts of materials that needed to be quarried, processed or manufactured.

It doesn’t end there. These homes consume energy for heating, lighting and whatever else that gas and electricity are used for. Cars driven by those who live in homes are also constructed from raw materials, and then need fuel to function. Water is consumed as if it were not a very limited resource. Much of it gets mixed with soaps and detergents before going back into the environment. Chlorine volatilizes from chlorinated swimming pools.

Then there are the landscapes and gardens, the parts of domestic lifestyles that we actually believe to be beneficial to the environment. They contain exotic (non-native) plants that compete with native species, and interfere with natural ecological processes. Irrigation of the landscapes stimulates growth of redwoods, and accelerates decay of oaks. Soil amendments, fertilizers and some of the pesticides change the chemistry of the soil and ground water.

Just compare these two pictures. As bad as the mess at Hero’s Camp was, the two hundred people who lived there were less detrimental to the environment and the local ecosystem than those who live in just a few of the homes visible in the picture below. Those who claim to be concerned about the environment should be more concerned about the ecologically detrimental lifestyles of those who live in homes than those who lack homes.

(Incidentally, the title was changed slightly from the original post [in another blog] to conform to the meme of ‘Hypocrisy’.)

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.