Out In Nature

The forest is doing well.

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.

Dogs enjoy nature too.

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.

No Vacation

Some have said that those who ridicule the homeless should try being homeless. I disagree. For several reasons, I do not believe that any more people than absolutely necessary should ever attempt homelessness. As long as someone who is homeless would prefer to be sheltered, there is more homelessness than there should be. This is something that society needs no more of.

There really is no way to ‘try’ homelessness anyway. Someone is either homeless or not. Spending a night under a bridge without losing the security of a home to return to afterward will by no means makes someone an expert. Spending a few or several nights under a bridge might provide more insight into the basics of such a lifestyle, but is still no substitute for the real thing.

Homelessness in no vacation. Otherwise, it would be more popular. Backpacking and camping are popular only because those who do it start out well outfitted, and get to go home afterward. Traveling to places far away from home is popular too, but is preferably done with even more than the comforts of home. Someone who vacations in Paris is no more homeless than Parisian.

Those who are inexperienced with homelessness are fortunate. Hopefully, none of them will ever need to experience it nearly as intimately as a tourist experiences Paris. Those who are so deficient of civility and compassion for humanity as to ridicule or otherwise express unfounded disdain for all collective homeless people should instead be examining their own inadequacies.

That seems to be a common theme. Those who complain the most have the most to complain about. Even if it were possible to ‘try’ homelessness, doing so would not provide much practical insight for those unwilling to use it, who are so intent on contempt of others.

“STAY AT HOME”

The font of the sermonette on the other side is too small to get a good picture of.

That is an order! . . . but not just any order. It is an official California State Order. Most of us have been doing rather well with it from the onset. Many of us are unable to go to work anyway. We might be catching up on some of the many chores we have been neglecting, and maybe wondering how to pay the bills if our income stops. It is a uniquely troubling time, to say the least.

What about those of us who lack homes? Avoidance of others is facilitated by so many others staying at home where they belong. Otherwise, social distancing is the best we can do. Even that is quite difficult for those who live in very close proximity to others in the same situation. Because of the trouble of storing what we need, we must shop for food more frequently than others.

Larger Communities, such as Santa Cruz, are attempting to shelter more of those who lack shelter, particularly those who are classified as ‘high risk’. Hotels should be commended for their cooperation with this endeavor, and for providing uncrowded individual accommodations to the elderly! Many prefer to avoid crowded shelters where practical social distancing is impossible.

Lunches at both Felton Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Catholic Church can not be served to our significant groups, although Felton Presbyterian Church continues to provide bagged individual lunches. As their flier in the picture above indicates, showers at Felton Presbyterian Church have been canceled. Fortunately, we have other meager resources, and adequate food.

We know how to work with limited assets.

News is confusing. We all know why it is so very important now though. There is no need to say so. Nor must we read about it in the flier above. There are plenty of other credible resources.

Actually, the font is not all that bad.

Better Homeless Gardens

‘Better Homes & Gardens’ appeals to those with homes and perhaps associated gardens that are, well . . . better. It also appeals to those of us who would prefer our homes and gardens to be better than they presently are. Those of us who lack home or garden space are likely more concerned with basic survival than the latest fads and trends of contemporary domestic lifestyles.

Of course, that does not dictate that none of us are interested in domestic issues or gardening. Every one of us has lived in a home at one time or another, and intends to do so again. Many of us have likewise enjoyed gardening, and intend to do so again. In fact, a few of us presently enjoy gardening without our own garden spaces. Some of our gardens are remarkably productive!

Garden spaces are are not as difficult to procure as domestic situations are. Some of us who reside in homes but do not enjoy gardening are pleased for others to utilize some of our otherwise unused garden space, rather than allow it to remain fallow. Some even consider the cost of water consumed by a garden to be worth the incidental management of unwanted wild vegetation.

This happens to be the time of year for warm season vegetables to get started for summer and into autumn. None of us really need to grow any vegetables. We have access to more than we need from food distribution and donations. We just enjoy growing a few vegetables that are not commonly provided by the typical sources, such as tomatoes, green beans, peas and corn.

Some of us just enjoy gardening for the sake of gardening, and share the vegetables, fruits and even a few flowers with anyone in the Community who appreciates the produce.

Writer’s Block

It is now getting late on Sunday night. Nothing is written for this week yet. It will be a stretch to get these next few paragraphs written and posted before midnight.

I can formulate all sorts of excuses for my very late start. I really am ridiculously busy. However, the real reason for the difficulty of writing something for this week is very literally not very interesting. There are literally not many interesting topics to write about.

The weather is excellent.

Everyone is getting enough to eat.

Many of us who formerly lacked homes have procured habitation.

Many of us who had been unemployed have procured employment.

The Community is amazingly generous and supportive.

Even our pet companions have it pretty good.

This is getting to be redundant. I have repeated some of this information a few times in the past several months. The good news is that this is all good news. The bad news is that it is not very interesting after reading about if a few times.

In the past, there had been more interesting bad news to write about. It is scarce now.

Some have recommended that I write more about homeless culture and society. Some have expressed interest in brief biographies of members of the homeless Community. Such topics are not so easy to write about without compromising the privacy of those involved.

For a blog that evolved from a social network that originally exposed unfounded persecution and discrimination of the homeless, a lack of subjects to write about is a good thing.

I suspect that there will be a few new pleasant topics to write about this year. It is still too early to discuss some of those topics. It is not easy to wait for them.

Now, I will post this before midnight.

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.