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.

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.

What About Everyone Else?

Life is difficult sometimes. It is certainly less difficult for some than it is for others. Nonetheless, no one gets through from beginning to end without some degree of difficulty. Those of us who have experienced significant difficulty may believe that others have better situations, and there are always many who do, but our perceptions of their respective situations really are limited.

Nowadays, many of those who have had better situations than some of us will be experiencing formerly unforseen difficulties. For many, such difficulties will be more stressful than for those of us who have experienced them previously. Most of us crave and strive for stability and security. Many had done well with achieving a better than average degree of stability and security.

So much of that is compromised or challenged now. Some of us with formerly stable employment have been unemployed for quite a while. Some will remain unemployed for a while longer. A few will be without employment to return to. Consequently, some will be unable to pay mortgages, rents and other important bills. Consequences of this are still unknown, but will be severe.

Our minor group has been fortunate for the past many years. So many who formerly lacked homes have procured domestic situations. So many who lacked employment are now lucratively employed. Fewer of us are utilizing the resources that were so helpful to so many more years ago. Fortunately, some of these resources are still available for a different demographic in need.

Hopefully, this current situation does not get as unpleasant as it has potential to. It is already very difficult for some, and in some regards, will likely get significantly worse before improving. Many of us are already doing what we can to help alleviate the severity of this major disruption of normalcy.

2020

This should be a good year for us. It seems that every year of the past several has been a bit better than the previous. It is getting to sound redundant. In our small Community, the rates of homelessness and unemployment are decreasing. There are fewer becoming homeless than there are homeless procuring domestic situations. More are procuring employment than losing it.

We should be grateful. Although this has been the trend nationally, it is not the trend everywhere. Rates of homelessness have increased significantly in many Communities, particularly the more populous cities and towns of California. Homelessness in Los Angeles is beyond deplorable. Increasing employment does not help much while the cost of living exceeds typical incomes.

We do what we can with what we have to work with here, and slowly but surely, it is effective.

In February, some of us will be harvesting and selling madrone and oak firewood from a parcel that would benefit from major vegetation management. Burls of the younger madrones can be harvested and sold as well. The trees will be removed so that fruit trees can be installed next winter. It is not the most lucrative of work, but will more than pay for the pickup used to do it.

It is a start. There are a few more tanoaks to harvest in Brookdale after that, and then mixed oaks and some madrones outside of Scott’s Valley. For those involved, it will be gratifying to get back to work, even if it is only temporary before returning to work within former or other preferred professions. It will be even more gratifying if those who lack homes earn enough for rent.

It is still too early to discuss some of the other potential opportunities for employment this year; but there will be more.

GREEN

GREEN, Greening Residential Environments Empowering Neighborhoods, will be planting at least fifty-two street trees in Los Angeles in less than three weeks, on January 18. Sadly, none of us will attend this year.

Only one of us attended the first tree planting project by GREEN twenty-two years ago. One may not seem like an impressive number, but it was half of the two who started what has become an annual tradition. Back then, we were committed only to plant thirty trees, and then planted about twice that many by the time the project was completed.

Now that GREEN has organized an impressive crew of local volunteers, it is not so important for any of us to go all the way to Los Angeles to help. Besides, we can be more helpful here, by growing some of the trees that GREEN will eventually plant.

After all, the first large groups of trees, as well as a few individual trees, came from here. In fact, on West 21st Street, between South La Brea Avenue and (coincidentally) South Sycamore Avenue, there might be as many as four sycamores that were grown from suckers that were removed from the massive sycamore in Felton Covered Bridge Park.

It would be nice to grow more sycamores because they are remarkably complaisant as street trees where parkstrips are wide enough. They do not get as big in such exposed situations as they do here. They are easily grown from cutting, and can be passively field grown on a vacant parcel in Brookdale, to be dug and relocated bare root to Los Angeles.

Deodar cedars would be nice for a section of Masselin Avenue in the Miracle Mile District. We happen to have access to a significant herd of feral seedlings here that need to be removed. The problem with them is that they can not be so passively field grown, so must instead be canned and irrigated. Bulky canned trees are not as easily delivered to Los Angeles as bare root trees.

There is plenty of space available for such a crop. There is plenty of water, growing media and cans. Even labor is not lacking. The difficulty will be getting all the assets together. Most of us do not get very far from Felton. The best space available for such projects in past Zayante or outside of Scott’s Valley. Available space that is closer lacks water for irrigation.

We will figure something out. We typically do. The young cedars will not occupy so much space during their first year, so can probably stay in Felton. More space will likely become available by the time we need it. If the finished crop does not fit into one pickup like more than sixty manna gums fit into one station wagon, we can simply rent a moving van. We will make it work.

Note: Metro Rail was not built into the medians of San Vicente Boulevard as described in the article ‘Birthday Trees’, so many of the original trees remain.

An Uneventful Week

There is not much to write about today. The weather has been warm, but for those of us who live outside, pleasantly mild at night. None of us are in need of anything that can not be readily procured from our collective resources. The Community is as supportive as it always is. Some of us have been spending a bit more time at odd jobs. We should enjoy the calm while we can.

One from our group has been in Montana for work for at least two months. He must be doing well there, or he would have returned already, as expected. Perhaps one temporary assignment led to another. Someone else is in Santa Cruz for temporary work, but should return on Monday or so. It is unfortunate that some must leave the area for work, but it is better than nothing.

During this next week, another one from our group will likely be interviewing for regular (not temporary) part time employment, which could develop into full time employment. The work is within walking distance from town. The schedule is flexible. It is not the most lucrative sort of employment, but involves benefits that would be useful to someone who has been unemployed.

This is the time of year that the few of us who live outside should start to prepare for autumn. There is a 39% chance of rain early Monday morning, which is not much to be concerned with, but there will eventually be more. It will be increasingly difficult for those lacking adequate shelter to stay dry. We are fortunate that this is such a mild climate, without snow or hard frost.

Here in Felton and the San Lorenzo Valley, we are also very fortunate to be part of such an extremely compassionate, supportive and generous Community.