2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It is good to be hopeful. It is also good to be realistic.

So many seem to be overly pleased that 2020 is over and done with, and expect 2021 to be so much better. It very well could be. However, there are no guarantees. Fire Season is over, but only until next fire season. After all, it is an annual event. The president that so many here despised will be replaced soon enough, but the nicer replacement is not exactly exemplary either.

The Pandemic, or whatever it is known as, was the major news last year that everyone wants to leave in the past. Unfortunately, the new year means nothing to the virus. Progress has been made, but did not eradicate the virus precisely at the stroke of midnight between 2020 and 2021. No one really knows how much worse the situation will get before it significantly improves.

Furthermore, the associated repercussions continue to evolve. While many are enjoying more outdoor activities and gardening, many more are unable to work to earn revenue to pay for the most basic of necessities. Some have procured other employment, but for less compensation. Those who have managed to continue with their employment may have found business lacking.

The eviction moratorium expires at the end of the month. No one really knows what will happen at that time. Some people who can not afford their rent or mortgage could become homeless. Those who rely on rental income may have been lacking some or all of such income for quite a while and may continue to do so. They may consequently be unable to pay their mortgages too.

The local homelessness rate, which had been decreasing for a while, only recently began increasing, and, sadly, has potential to get significantly worse.

Out Of Service

July was when I was last able to write weekly for this blog. Since then, most posts were recycled older posts. I have mentioned a few times that I hope to resume writing new posts here, but so far, have been unable to do so. Other obligations require my attention for now. Realistically, I do not know when I will be able to resume writing weekly posts.

Facebook has likely been more interesting. I have not been there in quite a while. I am not sure I remember my password, or if I am a member of the group. I have been told that there are a few topics that are sometimes discussed there that I should write about here. I do not doubt that. So much has been happening!

I will post a brief article tonight, but it may be the last for a while.

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.

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.

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.

Consider The Source

While most of us are willing to comply with social distancing standards, a few complain vehemently about it. Of these, some blame President Trump for the current situation. Some blame the Liberals. Some insist that it is a conspiracy to destroy the economy. Yet, they all lack the education and experience of those who developed and implemented the social distancing standards.

In other words, they do not know what they are talking about, but they all think that they are experts.

Understandably, many of us want to return to work! Many are frustrated by confinement and want to get out and about like we did prior to this situation. The rational among us do what we must until that is again possible. The irrational sort can potentially prolong this situation by noncompliance to social distancing standards. Society suffers the consequences of their ignorance.

The ignorance of those who lack practical experience with homelessness, but believe that they are qualified to make recommendations about it, is just as irrational. Although such ignorance is rare, we all have encountered it at one time or another. Those who express the most extreme of ignorance and irrationality are too ignorant and irrational to realize it. Consider the source.

For example, some have made the recommendation that homeless people should just relocate to where they would not be homeless, but do not reveal where such a place is. Some homeless people do relocate for a home that happens to be available. It would however be pointless to relocate to be homeless in an unfamiliar situation. Nor should anyone relocate to be unemployed.

How many of those who make such trivializing recommendation had been homeless, and tried to find a home without a deposit, exemplary credit, sufficient income or stable renting history? How many are even aware that many of the homeless lack a combination of these assets? What qualifies anyone lacking such relevant experience or insight to make such recommendations?

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Dedication of the Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree on May 2 brought back memories. That should probably be expected from a memorial. However, the tree is new. The site of the dedication is what we remembered. It was a campsite where Steven temporarily lived while homeless in the autumn of 2012. It has changed significantly since then, but is still recognizable.

Homelessness is generally not a preferred alternative to a domestic lifestyle, at least within local cultures and societies. Otherwise, more of us would be homeless. Those who are experienced with homelessness would not recommend it to those who are not. There are just too many advantages associated with domestic lifestyles. Homelessness is just too challenging and arduous.

Yet, at the Dedication of the Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree, we remembered many of the pleasant experiences associated with Steven’s former campsite back in the autumn of 2012. Homelessness really is challenging and arduous, and can be downright oppressive, but it does not necessarily deprive those who experience it of all opportunities to also experience pleasure.

Homelessness can be incredibly enlightening. It can expose the best and worst of humanity; and just might demonstrate how some of the worst is not as bad as it is commonly believed to be. Homelessness is certainly an adventure, which compels participants to formerly unrealized resourcefulness. It really can be the best of times, right in the middle of the worst chapter of life.

It is worth considering that anyone can attend a concert of the Oakland Symphony, and thousands do; but very few were privileged to attend intimate and exclusive solo concerts by Steven Michael Ralls with his tired old guitar, at his dusty campsite where his Memorial Tree was recently installed. Those uniquely privileged few are among the more fortunate of our Community.