Cost of Living

While looking at real estate in Oklahoma, it is apparent why homelessness in not so prevalent there. It is probably similar to many other places in America. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that this region and a few others are not so similar to the rest of America. After all, there are more of those places than there are of these. They are what is more normal. This is not normal.

It is easy to imagine that harsh climate would be a deterrent to homelessness. It probably is to transient homeless people who migrate to climates that are more conducive to homelessness. However, there really are not many homeless people who are transient, even here. Almost all homeless people live in their respective Communities, where they were before homelessness.

The cost of living is more relevant to homelessness than climate. There are not as many homeless people in Oklahoma simply because rent and real estate is so much more affordable there, even relative to the lower regional average of wages. Many more people who want to purchase a home can. Just about anyone with an average job can afford the regionally inexpensive rent.

Another dynamic that is not often considered is that people in Oklahoma and many other regions can live on their own property, even without what would be considered to be a habitable or ‘compliant’ residence. Those who own property might live in recycled mobile homes that may not comply to local building codes. Some might live in less than that, rather than be homeless.

There would be so much less homelessness in some parts of California if that were possible here. Some of the homeless in Felton own undeveloped and otherwise useless parcels that could accommodate all of the few who presently remain homeless here.

Misconceptions – Immigration

‘Misconceptions’ could become another category for this blog, like ‘Hypocrisy’. There is quite a bit to write about that could be categorized as such. It would be more relevant and interesting than the ‘Hypocrisy’ category, especially if the ‘Hypocrisy’ category is eventually deleted, as has been suggested. Furthermore, ‘Misconceptions’ would be less objectionable than ‘Hypocrisy’.

‘Immigration’, for example, is an interesting topic that is unobjectionably relevant to homelessness, but only because of the misconception that most homeless people here immigrated with the intention of being homeless. This misconception is obviously perpetuated by those who are not very acquainted with homeless people, particularly the local homeless residents of Felton.

There are certainly more homeless people in California than elsewhere. There should be. There are more people of all sorts in California than elsewhere. California is the most populous state. Because real estate here is more expensive than all but only a few other places in America, a disproportionate ratio of those who live and earn income here can not afford a mortgage or rent.

Most homeless people in California lived here while they were not homeless. They payed mortgages and property taxes or rent just like anyone who lives in a home. Some payed significantly more than average. Most had gainful careers here. Some raised families here. Sadly, some who are homeless are in the process of raising their families. Some have never lived anywhere else.

Of the few homeless people presently in Felton, only one immigrated from outside California less than a decade ago, early in 2013. Only one immigrated from outside America, but did so for work in the early 1990s. All others are Californian, and have been in Felton for many years. More than half are native to the San Lorenzo Valley. More than half formerly owned homes.

Thesaurus

Those of us who write sometime find a thesaurus to be useful for suggesting synonyms, euphemisms or similar alternatives to words that we are trying to avoid the use of. Synonyms might be useful to avert the redundancy of using a particular prominent word a few times in a single paragraph. Euphemisms might be less objectionable synonymous options to unpleasant words.

A thesaurus does not directly define words like a dictionary does, but by providing words of similar meanings, a thesaurus indirectly demonstrates how words are perceived by society. Such perceptions may be significantly different from actual definitions. Some may be completely inaccurate. Some synonyms, whether accurate or not, are potentially objectionable dysphemisms.

A comment in one of the newspapers I work for in Southern California described those who lived in homes destroyed by the Getty Fire as ‘outside the gates’. It took me a while to determine that this is a polite way of saying that they are homeless. To me, it seems to be more exclusionary than polite, but I have never tried the phrase. It prompted me to inquire with a thesaurus.

‘Homeless’ was the basic word I inquired the thesaurus about. Some alternatives are actually phrases that are too cumbersome to substitute for a single word.

“houseless, unhoused, displaced, unplaced, unestablished, unsettled” are simple euphemisms. Some of us are familiar with the first few.

“wandering, itinerant, vagabond, vagrant” are words that describe those who are transient, so do not apply to any of us who live here.

“destitute, estranged, desolate” could be accurate for some of us, although not contingent of homelessness. The last one seems . . . odd.

“derelict” seems to be more relevant to a carcass of an old Pontiac.

“disinherited, dispossessed” are more relevant to relationships with family and friends than a domestic situation.

“exiled, banished, outcast”?! We are not political refugees! (Okay, one of us is.)

“unwelcome, forsaken, friendless, uncared-for”?! How are these words even relevant to our respective domestic situations? Furthermore, how can any homeless (or houseless or unhoused or displaced or . . . ) person experience any of this here in our remarkably welcoming and caring Community of friends in Felton?!

Chili Cook Off

The Sixth Annual San Lorenzo Valley Chili Cook Off yesterday at Felton Covered Bridge Park was a fund raiser hosted by Felton Library Friends to benefit the new Felton Library and Nature Discovery Park. That is why tasting kits that were needed to participate were sold for $5. All of those $5 charges were collectively the funds that the fund raiser raised.

Of course, there was much more to it than that. No one would have attended if it was just about collecting funds. It was about a good time, with food, beverages and live music. A dozen or so chili chefs competed for prizes. Local business donated even more prizes for a raffle later in the day.

Contestants, volunteers and just about everyone who attends such events knows how to have a good time. $5 is a trivial charge to participate. Not many who pay put much though into it as contribution to fund raising. Procurement of resources for the Felton Library and Nature Discovery Park is very important, but so is doing the event right.

For several, doing the event right entailed including those who had neither the intention of participating, nor the minimal resources to do so. They delivered several and various bowls of chili to a few of us who were gathered at the picnic table closest to the parking lot. That is being seriously Community oriented!

I know this is not the best picture of a bunch of empty bowls and a few that I snatched from those who were still eating out of them, but it shows the variety of the chili. These were not contributed by one chef who wanted to lighten his load of leftovers, but from at least six different chefs. There were more empty bowls that had already been discarded.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Generosity is a good thing. There happens to be an abundance of it here. In conjunction with the many other good things about our Community, the abundant generosity is what keeps a few of us from going hungry. Those who might happen to get into a bad situation several days before food distribution can easily find other meal and food programs nearby to stay well fed.

Sometimes, food even gets left for us at the picnic table near the parking lot at Felton Covered Bridge Park. Some of it is surplus from earlier events in the park, such as a birthday party or a picnic. On rare occasion, surplus food is delivered from events somewhere else, such as a wedding reception or a staff meeting. People actually go ‘that’ out of their way to share surplus food!

Generosity is certainly nothing new here. I wrote about it not too long ago. It sometimes involves other minor resources besides food, including clothing, bedding, tents, kitchen utensils, fuel, pet supplies, tarps, and on rare occasion, employment and housing opportunities. If too abundant, some of the non-perishable items can be stored until until someone has need for them.

Surplus perishable food that is not consumed in a timely manner is not so easy to accommodate. If we get to it quickly enough, some can be taken by those who can freeze or refrigerate it for later. Regardless of what happens to it, perishable food left in Felton Covered Bridge Park must be taken before wildlife makes a mess of it. Fortunately, so far, that has not been a problem.

However, there is slight but well founded concern that with such generosity and abundance of surplus, but fewer of us to benefit from it, there might eventually be potential for contributions of perishable food to attract undesirable wildlife. Ravens are notorious for taking unattended food, and leaving the wrappings strewn about. Raccoons and rats take what remains overnight.

Within the context of the collective ecosystem, scavenging surplus food is probably not a problem for the wildlife. The remaining mess of wrappings, and the waste of such graciously shared surplus, are the potential problems. Since the surplus food is being left for us, we must be attentive to how it might affect the environment, and not allow it to become a problem for others.

There certainly was no problem with this surplus food that was left early today. The fancy dried apricots and shelled walnuts to the right were quite a score. The sandwiches to the upper left were timely for lunch. Someone later brought salami and cheese to go with the remaining mixed crackers that were snacked on by many. Generosity and abundance go a long way in Felton.

9%

Wasn’t that what the forecast was? There was a 9% chance of precipitation over night? I know it is difficult to say. With all the modern technology available for such predictions, such figures change constantly. Regardless, most of us don’ t take a 9% chance of precipitation seriously. It rarely means anything, and even when it does, it is rarely more than a few drops off the eaves.

Realistically, what came through early this morning was not much more than a few drops off the eaves, but it was enough to remind us of what time of year this is. Pleasantly warm and dry weather is predicted through the week. In October though, the weather can be expected to slowly get cooler and wetter. It is impossible to say when it will rain next, but we know that it will.

Fortunately, there are very few of us who presently lack shelter. Those of us who are living outside are reasonably outfitted to do so. If necessary, tarps and a bit of dry bedding are available from where they are stored. We can always get more. Homelessness is not easy, particularly as summer becomes autumn, and then winter. We do what we must to get through the weather.

We are also very fortunate to live in such a remarkably compassionate Community, and within such a mild climate. The resources that are available to those of us who might need them are provided by others in the Community, most of whom live in homes and are inexperienced with the difficulties of homelessness. Not many Communities are so generous and compassionate.

Of course, the climate helps too. We need not contend with the severely cold and snowy weather that other regions experience during winter. After the earlier drizzle, the sky is already clear.