Felton has certainly changed since my grandparents arrived in the early 1940s. So many more homes have been built around their formerly isolated home on Ashley Street. A supermarket and two big drug stores are within walking distance of Downtown. There are more people and traffic here in Felton now than there were in Sunnyvale when they left.
Wow, Sunnyvale has certainly changed as well.
Yet, nature is still natural. The second growth redwoods are getting to be eighty years older than they were back then. So are some of the old oaks and firs. Otherwise, the forest and all the flora and fauna in it function now like they did back then.
It has been slightly more than a year since I wrote ‘Fake Environmentalism‘, about the misconception that homelessness is more detrimental to the environment than domestic lifestyles are. That article was more about how domestic lifestyles affect the environment in ways that few of us give much thought to, rather than the relatively minimal impact of homelessness.
We all have seen pictures of the most horrendous of homeless encampments, which are typically inhabited by those afflicted by functionality compromising mental disorder. Encampments such as these exemplify homelessness no more accurately than the White House exemplifies all domestic situations. They are rare, and still less polluting than average domestic lifestyles.
Most homeless encampments are not much to get pictures of. Many homeless people leave nothing where they sleep for the night, but instead take everything with them when they leave in the morning, even if they return at the end of the day.
I could see no evidence of encampments while walking with Rhody through an area where a few homeless people live. I might have found minor evidence if I had looked for it, but that was not my intention. If I had wanted to see evidence of human habitation, we would have walked on one of the several suburban streets in town.
Coastal Cleanup Day is an
‘international day of volunteer action’; but we notice it most
locally, as volunteers are out collecting trash and debris throughout
the watershed of the San Lorenzo River. So much gets cleaned up and
taken away in just three hours from 9:00 a.m. to noon!
Because there are fewer of us in our
small Group than there had been before, there are fewer of us to
attend. Two who so dutifully participated annually, as well as with
most other cleanup events, now reside in Copperopolis, so will not
participate locally. Another is temporarily in Morgan Hill, and works
This year, only one, or perhaps two
from our Group will be participating, but will likely be going to
Capitola to do so with friends. Of course, there are often those who
do not plan to attend, but end up directing participants to areas of
significant debris accumulation, and helping with the collection of
Statistically, for our small Group,
that is still rather good attendance. If we estimate that there are
about fifteen of us now, and one of fifteen participates in Coastal
Cleanup Day, that is 7% of our total. 7% of the approximately 4,000
people of Felton would be 267 volunteers! There would not be enough
trash and debris for that many to share.
In the past, when there were
approximately twenty of us, at least two of us participated annually.
There were more typically three or four of us. That is a minimum of
Perhaps one of the few disadvantages
to the many advantages of several of us procuring employment and
housing, and some of us relocating to do so, is that there are not
quite so many of us to participate in events such as the Coastal
Fake environmentalism is a HUGE topic, so for now, will be limited
to fake environmentalism as justification for the eviction of
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’.)