Glamorous Houselessness

Prior to modern history, both cowboys and lumberjacks had been esteemed within American culture. Inventors, explorers, industrial pioneers and the wealthy had been also, and perhaps more socially so, but not so personally. The cultures and lifestyles of both cowboys and lumberjacks somehow seem to be easier for more to identify with.

Throughout my career, I have been involved with both cowboys and lumberjacks. Because I attained my degree in Horticulture from an agricultural school, many of my academic colleagues are cowboys. Because I am a horticulturist and arborist, many of my professional colleagues are also arborists, and many of them had formerly been lumberjacks. Both professions are as admirable as society considers them to be.

However, for many, both professions involve houselessness.

The open range is certainly not what it had been only a few decades ago, but even now, some cowboys still drive cattle through undeveloped regions that lack accommodations for them. Such cowboys must be completely self reliant for several consecutive days. During the 1980s, some of my academic colleagues drove cattle through entire summers. They only rarely retrieved supplies that were left for them along their drives, and camped in different locations nightly.

At about the same time, and into the 1990s, some of my professional colleagues were lumberjacks who harvested timber in remote and undeveloped forested regions. Some of their camps were remarkably simple and primitive. Some sites lacked organized camps. Like cowboys, they were essentially houseless.

Nonetheless, not so long ago, American culture admired both cowboys and lumberjacks for their self reliance, resilience, independence and nonconformity.

American culture has certainly changed. Not many know what cowboys and lumberjacks do nowadays. Independence and nonconformity are discouraged. Self reliance and resilience are more typically phony components of superficial vanity. Houselessness has become criminalized, vilified and derided.

Pioneers

Pioneers made America what it is now, and continue to do so. The first migrated from northeastern Asia many thousands of years ago. During the past several centuries, many more migrated from Europe. More migrated from Asia during the past few centuries. They all came for something better than what they had where they came from, although few knew what that entailed. Slaves from Africa had no choice about coming here, but their descendants eventually also participated in pursuit of legendary American opportunity.

Arrival was merely the beginning for earlier pioneers here. Many arrived with minimal resources. Many were unhoused when they arrived. They all needed to go somewhere. Many migrated west into regions that were inhabited by descendants of earlier pioneers. They built homes, farms, industries and towns as they went. This is how every American industry and city began. Actually, this is how every industry and every city in the World began at one time or another.

Everyone is a descendent of someone who lacked resources. Many are direct descendents of pioneers who arrived in America with nothing more than aspiration. Many actually are such pioneers. Many are direct descendents of slaves who were freed into an oppressively bigoted society, but were compelled to be circumstantial pioneers.

Many of our pioneer ancestors were unhoused as they migrated across America. Many were unhoused as they prospected for gold during the Gold Rush. Many were unhoused as they harvested timber from American forests.

Houselessness is a common theme within American history and culture. However, it has become less respectable over time. Ancient tribes that were formerly nomadic within America were considered to be uncivilized savages early within American history. Refugees of the Dust Bowl were shunned as they migrated mostly to California and Arizona. Even the formerly glamorized undomesticated lifestyles of traditional American cowboys who prefer a home on the range is now difficult for most to understand.

There’s No Place Like Home . . . Really!

Prior to March, I intend to return to the Pacific Northwest for two weeks. Prior to May, I hope to return to Southern California and continue almost to Phoenix for two weeks. I am confident that both trips will be very enjoyable. They always are. I should enjoy such trips more often, and perhaps go to a few places that I have not been to yet.

I have already been to some rather excellent places, and experienced many of them more intimately than average tourists do. I explored Steinbeck’s favorite sites in Monterey with a direct descendent of some of the first Spanish people to arrive there. I camped in an abandoned home with rain seeping through the ceiling west of Portland just to enjoy time with my uncle. I have visited homes of celebrities in the Los Angeles region simply by following my colleague to his projects. All of these experiences were excellent, even Las Vegas. However, none were here.

I really can not say that ‘here’ is necessarily any better than ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ is. Nor can I say that ‘there’ is any better than ‘here’. I only know I enjoyed every ‘there’ that I have been to, but the one ‘here’ that I know is home.

Houselessness is certainly no vacation. Yet, like vacation and travel, it instills a unique appreciation for home. For residential or employment opportunities, some who lack a stable domestic situation may decide to relocate and make their home somewhere else, even if they eventually return to their original or previous home because it is where they prefer to be. Some may lack such options, so simply stay within their respective home region. Every situation and every individual is different. Ultimately, whether within a domestic situation or not, there’s no place like home.

January 1982 III

Actually, it was more like January 1987, five years after the floods that I mentioned last week. Actually, both the weather and the date are irrelevant. It was a long time ago, but at the time, it was the present. We lived in it. We had some minor plans for our futures and careers, but not much more. We were more concerned with enjoying our next few years at college.

At that time, my experience with racism was limited mostly to the animosity of a few of the older generation for the Vietnamese refugees whom I grew up with. Observing comparably limited but similarly barbaric behavior directed at my colleague because of his African American ancestry was like a different flavor of the same old hooey.

Our parents raised us better than that because of the time that they lived through. My colleague’s father graduated from law school and eventually became a Los Angeles County Judge through the Civil Rights Movement. Our parents did not want racism to be as difficult for us as it was for them. It was not. However, a few older people within our Community were still quite comfortable with their outdated racism.

Sexism was a completely new concept to both of us. Women’s liberation started about the time we were born, and had evolved significantly by the time we were in the third or fourth grade. However, we attended a college that had been an exclusively men’s school only three decades earlier. A few of our oldest professors were students there prior to that, and resented the admission of women.

Both racism and sexism have improved over the years, although racism fluctuates significantly more, and made a resurgence in recent years. However, about a decade ago, discrimination against the impoverished and unhoused became much more prevalent. It is as if those who hate must hate someone, or a group of someones. If they can not attach their innate hatred to race or gender, they direct it to a particular social class.

Fortunately, this sort of discrimination is declining much more readily than other forms of discrimination. After only a decade, it is beginning to become vilified like racism and sexism should have been a very long time ago.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The first day of it was certainly better than the last day of last year. It was so clear and sunny, and completely opposite of the torrential rain of the day earlier. The San Lorenzo River and Zayante Creek flowed at normal levels, without indication that they flooded less than a day ago.

Earlier flooding and mudslides were reminders of the potential for instability of stable domestic situations. Most homes within Felton Grove are elevated above such floods, but were evacuated nonetheless. Vehicles there needed to be parked elsewhere. A few roads nearby were blocked by erosion or fallen trees.

More storms are predicted for next week. Now that so much soil is becoming saturated, such storms could contribute to more erosion, mudslides and fallen trees, particularly in conjunction with wind. Additional flooding could also be possible.

Even if familiarity with the risks associated with living here is no deterrent, it makes such risks no easier. Evacuation is difficult. Flood damage or worse is even more difficult.

In some ways, such difficulties are more difficult for a few of those with more stability than for those with less. After all, such difficulties are much more likely to cause more substantial loss for those with more to lose.

Those who lack stable domestic situations may be very inconvenienced by severe weather and flooding, but they are somewhat inconvenienced regardless of the weather. Although most who reside within stable domestic situations are not even slightly inconvenienced by severe weather, a few may be severely inconvenienced, and some even lose their home entirely. It is how some people become unhoused!

Stability is generally preferable to instability. It is never absolute though. We all assume risks associated with living here, and do our best with what we have to work with.

There‚Äôs No Place Like Home

Some of us do not get out much. Perhaps the expense is unjustifiable or prohibitive. Perhaps work is too demanding. There are as many reasons for not getting out and about as there are for doing so. We all know that it can be fun, relaxing and healthy. We must also be realistic.

Realistically though, many or most of us realize that we happen to be in the best place that we could be in. Otherwise, we would be somewhere else that is perceived to be better. This is why those who indulge in vacations in other places return afterward. Not only is this home, but it is an excellent home. After all, many other people come here from elsewhere for their vacations.

Yes, this is biased, since most believe that their particular home is the best place to be. Most people who inhabit Los Angeles actually believe that they are in the best place to be; which is fortuitous, since millions of people searching for someplace better could cause this region to become unpleasantly crowded. Obviously, we tend to believe that there is no place like home.

Yet, regardless of obvious bias, it is impossible to deny that, besides being the best place for those of us who live here, this really is among the most excellent places in the entire Universe. The climate is perfect, with just enough winter without too much chill, just enough summer without too much heat, plenty of sunny weather, and only mild storms within a brief rainy season. Scenery is exquisite, with grand redwoods and the coast of the Pacific Ocean nearby. Society is remarkably diverse, accommodating and generous. There are too many advantages to being here to list. Even those who lack domestic situations know how fortunate we are to be here.

Lifestyles

As a casual and almost outside observer, I am fascinated by the lifestyles of others. I happen to be quite pleased with my lifestyle, but can totally understand why it would be unappealing to most. Also, I can understand why others are pleased with their particular lifestyles, although such lifestyles do not appeal to me.

It baffles me though, that some believe that their particular lifestyles should be desirable to everyone else. I would not recommend a lifestyle as simple and primitive as mine to anyone who would not appreciate it. I appreciate the same courtesy. It is presumptuous for someone to recommend a more complicated and modern lifestyle to me merely because it is what most supposedly prefer.

Besides, I do not observe many who are any happier with their particular lifestyle than I am with mine. To the contrary, I observe many who are less satisfied with their seemingly preferable lifestyles.

I do believe that most who lack domestic situations should prefer at least a bit more comfort in their lifestyles. When the weather gets as cool as it has been, warmth and some sort of enclosure to contain such warmth should be preferable. I also assume that plumbing is desirable, even though my own homes are equipped with only minimal plumbing. I really do not know though. Some or many of my presumptions could be partially or even mostly inaccurate.

I also believe that those who live in luxurious penthouses on top of skyscrapers in big cities should be happier with homes on ground level with spacious gardens. It is difficult for me to imagine why they choose to live in such expensive homes that lack so much. Nonetheless, they do so, while they can afford to live almost anywhere. Obviously, their chosen lifestyles appeal to them.

Pleasant Reminder

Attendance was good for the Work Day at Felton Presbyterian Church yesterday. It seemed to me that there were more participants than there typically are. However, there were noticeably fewer current and former members of the Homeless Community than there typically are. This is partly attributable to the declining rate of local homelessness. It is more attributable to new priorities of those who had formerly been unhoused or unemployed, but are now employed and involved with the responsibilities of domestic lifestyles.

By the end of the Work Day at noon, nearly everyone was working outside, likely because most of the interior tasks had been completed. Some of us stayed a bit late, more to catch up on what others had been up to since the previous Work Day than to get more done. It was gratifying to be asked about the Homeless Community in Felton. It was even more gratifying to not have much to say in that regard.

So many who had formerly lacked homes here have procured stable domestic situations during the past few years. So many who had lacked employment have become sufficiently employed to sustain their respective domestic situations. Homelessness as well as unemployment are not such prominent problems within our Community as they had been. Therefore, there is not much to say about it. Nor is there much to write about, which is why this blog has been discontinued.

Improvements within the Homeless Community should be gratifying to everyone within the collective Community, particularly those who have been so generous and proactive with implementing or assisting with such improvements.

Incidentally, although a declining rate of local homelessness seems to be inconsistent with the currently horrendous rates of homelessness throughout America, a few other Communities are also noticing a decline of homelessness, including, surprisingly, San Francisco!

China Town

China Town is not merely one town. It is a designation for particular districts of several Communities throughout the World. Many of such China Town districts were developed to accommodate immigrants from China who were unwelcome to inhabit portions of the same Communities in which they worked. China Town of San Francisco, which is the oldest major China Town in America, originally accommodated immigrants from China as they transitioned from mining and railroad construction to shipping and industrial work within San Francisco.

Such institutionalized discrimination confined development of many China Town districts to regions that were undesirable to others within their respective Communities. The last China Town of Santa Cruz was located within the floodplain of the San Lorenzo River, east of Front Street, mostly between Soquel Avenue and Cooper Street. It developed as a residential neighborhood after a fire destroyed a previous China Town in 1894. For the following half century, it was slowly replaced with more industrial development, until the Christmas Flood of 1955 destroyed the last few remaining residences.

Half a century later, the Benchlands Camp, which is inhabited by many of the unhoused of our Community, developed directly to the northwest of the former China Town, on the opposite side of the same floodplain of the San Lorenzo River. It is just as vulnerable to flooding as the former China Town was, but unlike the former China Town, occupies an area within a public park that is intended to be accessible to everyone of the Community. Very understandably, the Community wants to recover their public park space.

Incidentally, the Benchlands Camp developed as a result of the evacuation of the former Ross Camp to the southwest of the Highway 1 Bridge over the San Lorenzo River. The former Ross Camp was outside of a levee that excluded flooding, on otherwise unused land that is owned by Santa Cruz and California.

Bad Guys

According to a scant but annoyingly vocal few within Society, homelessness is necessarily synonymous with crime, violence and a variety of social deviancy, as if everyone who lacks a domestic situation conforms to such stereotypes. Similar misconception implies that such deviancy is mostly exclusive to the unhoused Community, and therefore less applicable to those who inhabit domiciles.

Simple omission of facts and data requires less effort than falsifying facts and data. It is not difficult to portray the most notoriously villainous or disreputable of the unhoused Community as representative of the entire unhoused Community. However, doing so is about as logical as associating everyone who inhabits domiciles with the most notoriously villainous or disreputable of those who inhabit domiciles.

These are some examples of unhoused people of historical significance who do not represent any more of the unhoused Community than any other component of Society:

Jesus Christ and His Twelve Disciples

Saint John the Baptist

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha

Mahatma Gandhi

These are some examples of housed people of historical significance who do not represent any more of the housed Community than any other component of Society:

Adolph Hitler

Joseph Stalin

Saddam Hussein

Idi Amin

Incidentally but interestingly, the majority of the most inhumanely socially deviant and evil people of history systematically perpetuated unfounded malicious stereotypes regarding their victims. Many continue to do so. It is how they justify their mistreatment of their victims, whether Jews, Christians, Shia Muslims or any other distinguishable group. If it becomes socially unacceptable to perpetuate malicious stereotypes about a particular group, another likely innocent group is pursued instead. For the inhumanely socially deviant and evil of Society, the abuse of their victims, whomever such victims might be, is much more important than truth or logic. It is one of several symptoms of their mental disorder.