The Unhoused Of The Sacramento Shooting

Melinda Davis is one of six people who were killed in the Sacramento Shooting, shortly after two in the morning of the third of April. Like all of the other victims of this crime, she has her own unique story, as well as a few common characteristics. Everyone is someone’s daughter or son. Everyone is someone’s friend or neighbor. Most are someone’s sister or brother, or wife or husband. In other words, everyone is someone.

Melinda Davis was also unhoused. She was a member of a minor Community that includes less than half a percent (>.5%) of the populace of America, but is now almost seventeen percent (16.7%) of the deceased victims of the shooting. Without a home to be in on that night, she was innately as vulnerable to this sort of random social violence as those who were out being intentionally social.

Tim Langer was likewise there at the time only because he currently lacks a home to be at. However, his presence was fortuitous for four panicked young ladies whom he sheltered from the shooting, within the doorway alcove in which he sleeps. His immediate and selfless response to the dangerous situation was exemplary. Tim Langer, although a member of a Community that is less than half a percent of Society, was the right man for the job.

The unhoused are rare, but are integral components of Society nonetheless. They are generally exposed to more dangerous situations than those who inhabit secure homes, as is demonstrated by the death of Melinda Davis. Within such situations, some are occasionally presented with opportunities for the sort of admirable benevolence that was exhibited by Tim Langer.

The links above provide more information about Melinda Davis and Tim Langer in regard to the Sacramento Shooting. Other articles are in the news.

Kurt Cobain Memorial Park

Aberdeen in Washington is known more for nearby tourist destinations outside of town than for that which is inside of town. It is a convenient source of supplies for exploring and hiking in the Great Outdoors. It is, after all, the Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula.

The Kurt Cobain Memorial Park is a unique tourist destination that happens to be within town. It is not for everyone, but appeals to those who appreciate who Kurt Cobain was. Many within our Community do. Some of us have much in common with Kurt Cobain, and can identify with his difficulties prior to his untimely death twenty eight years ago.

These pictures are from the Kurt Cobain Memorial Park. They are likely and perhaps fortunately unimportant to many of us. Nonetheless, their significance and relevance is obvious to some.

Neighbors protest the traffic associated with the Kurt Cobain Memorial Park, which was not designed for such traffic. Actually, it was not designed to be a Park. Apparently, is is a popular destination for those who appreciate who Kurt Cobain was.
This is a big explanation for such a small Memorial Park.
This plaque features quotes by Kurt Cobain. The roses were fresh.
This plaque is on the backside of the base of the sculpture in the next picture.
Graffiti honoring Kurt Cobain covers most surfaces of the sculptures and infrastructure here, without obscuring inscriptions.
It seems as if something is missing, but the plaque at the base reads, “KURT’S AIR GUITAR”.
The underside of the Young Street Bridge, with the northern bank of the Wishkah River beyond, was the inspiration for ‘Something In The Way’, by Kurt Cobain.
This site under the Young Street Bridge is a component of the Kurt Cobain Memorial Park, so is designated as such with this plaque.
Graffiti intended to honor Kurt Cobain is even more prominent under the Young Street Bridge than it is elsewhere within the Kurt Cobain Memorial Park.
What seem to be campsites are excavated into the south bank of the Wishkah River below the Young Street Bridge. Some believe that Kurt Cobain lived here for a time.

It Worked For Me

Job interviews necessitate a certain degree of decorum. I was over it. I had left work that I never should have left, and a revered colleague, for what he and I thought was a better opportunity. It was disastrously nothing like it was supposed to be, and left me in no hurry to accept another so-called job. I could have been satisfied with my work as a garden columnist. When I resigned to interviewing for another secondary job, I did not put much effort into the process. Instead of explaining my credentials, expertise and qualifications, I explained what I would NOT do. After my previous experience, I had quite a list to present, and was quite a jerk about doing so. It worked for me.

Within the context of Community discussion of issues regarding homelessness, someone occasionally feels compelled to explain his (or her) experiences, observations or even opinions as if they are universally relevant. For example, an addict in recovery might explain how he (or she) came to recovery after ‘hitting bottom’, and becoming homeless without assistance from those whom he had already exploited. Because it is so relevant and important within his experience, he believes it to be just as relevant and important to others, or even everyone with a few similarities to their respective experience. He believes that since ‘it worked for me’, it must necessarily work for everyone.

Recovery from addiction, although commendable, is irrelevant to those who are not addicted. Most people who are presently homeless here became so as a result of unemployment or income that is insufficient to sustain a mortgage or rent, not because of addiction. Homelessness and addiction are two completely different concerns. Belief that what worked for any individual would necessarily be effective for everyone is both presumptuous and ignorant.

Forge Of Empires

“In the browser game Forge of Empires you can build your own city and experience all of history from its perspective – from the stone age on through the centuries. Explore new technologies that ring in a new era. Leave a mark with unique, contemporary buildings and establish a gigantic metropolis that is unparalleled anywhere. Increase your empire with sophisticated strategic campaigns and skilled actions in Forge of Empires. Create your own world: Forge your Empire!”

That certainly sounds compelling. I can think of all sorts of features that I would want to incorporate into a Community if I were to create it. I can think of almost as many features that would not be incorporated. Of course, it is all very unrealistic. No one person can create a city or any other Community. That requires the cooperation of countless others, particularly the members of the particular Community.

More than a million people live in San Jose. Each of those people contribute something to society, whether good, bad or both. They all create their own history, and some of it affects others in society. New technologies are occasionally invented or introduced. New homes and other buildings get constructed, with various architectural styles. Perhaps the same could be accomplished by fewer than a million people; but such tasks are impossible for just a single person.

Each individual is a more substantial component of a less substantial populace. For example, each resident of the main part of Felton is more than .00025% of the populace. That may not seem like much, but it is significantly more than one in a million in San Jose. Therefore, the contributions of each resident are more significant.

Again, that can be good, bad or both. The rules are the same for a smaller town as they are for a large city.

Although I may dislike the architectural style of a new home in the neighborhood, others may like it. Perhaps more like it than dislike it. Is that good, bad or both? Does it matter? The residents of the new home must like it, and, within reason, that is more important in a society that is not created by a single person.

Personally, I dislike homelessness within my Community. I want everyone to be accommodated within some sort of domestic situation. Most of the homeless likely need only affordable accommodation. I suspect that most people in any Community also dislike homelessness, but are unable to do much about it. Community is no video game.

Merry Christmas!

Jesus was homeless.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! to Jesus. Merry Christmas! to everyone else.

For those of us lacking a domestic situation, winter, which started just a few days ago, is the most difficult of seasons. Even here in the locally mild climate, the weather gets cold and wet. It is much worse in cooler climates with snow! It can be difficult to be merry during Christmas.

Many of the unhoused are fortunate that those who are more fortunate share gifts of food, clothing, bedding and other necessities throughout the year, and particularly during winter, like the Three Magi shared gifts with the Holy Family of baby Jesus. The gold that the Magi presented must have been very helpful while the Holy Family was in their difficult situation. Frankincense and myrrh seem like odd gifts, but were presented by Magi who likely did not expect to find that Their Messiah had been born impoverished in a stable, while His Parents were between homes.

The Holy Family was homeless.

Whether depicted as three wise men or three kings, the Three Magi were relatively wealthy and respected within their respective societies, but came from significant distances to present gifts and worship baby Jesus, regardless of His social status.

Later in life, Jesus was homeless for His entire public ministry. He travelled about and procured lodging wherever He and His Disciples happened to be at any particular time. Benefactors must have been extremely generous to accommodate a group of thirteen! Jesus, while homeless, was revered by the vast majority of society who appreciated His teachings. He was, however, persecuted by the few who ultimately had Him crucified.

According to both Matthew (8:20) and Luke (9:58), “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’.”

The Good Life

We have it good here. It is not always easy, and it sometimes gets difficult, but generally, we have it good.

That is not much consolation for many of those who formerly inhabited homes that were destroyed by the CZU Fire more than a year ago. Nor does it seem like much help to those who were deprived of their former domestic situations for other reasons, or are currently involved with such processes. It might not become apparent until after recovery. 

The potential for recovery might be an early clue to how good the situation here is. The Community is so remarkably compassionate and supportive. That is why so few of us lacked domestic situations prior to the CZU Fire. The Community commonly assists the unhoused with procurement of habitation, even if just temporarily. Also, the Community sometimes assists the unemployed with employment to sustain such habitation.

Furthermore, no one goes hungry for long here. Food Distribution (between 11:00 a.m. and noon on Thursdays) at Community Bridges provides supplemental sustenance for those who have need for it, and is remarkably generous with surplus produce. Although it can not supply all necessary sustenance, it assists those with limited resources by offsetting their expenditure on particular grocery items. Although Felton Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Church are still (temporarily) unable to serve Community lunches at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays respectively, both continue to provide bagged lunches at the same times.

Not all Communities are so compassionate or accommodating. Some Communities are unable to accommodate everyone who is in need and receptive to assistance. It is saddening to observe the substantially more deplorable situations that some of the unhoused of Santa Cruz, Watsonville and San Jose must contend with. However, it does remind us that we have it good here.

BEST

B-enchlands E-stuary S-tewardship T-eam is the BEST! They remove both trash and invasive exotic (nonnative) plants from the portion of the San Lorenzo River that flows through Santa Cruz and into Monterey Bay. Some team members are residents of the Benchlands Encampment at San Lorenzo Park or nearby neighborhoods. Some are members of the Santa Cruz Downtown Streets Team, which also collects trash elsewhere in Santa Cruz County, including here in Felton. All are volunteers.

BEST was organized in response to concern about the sensitive ecosystems of the San Lorenzo River, and, among other issues, the consequences of habitation by unhoused residents within such ecosystems. Direct involvement of the associated unhoused residents not only utilizes their coordinated volunteer efforts as a primary resource, but also provides them with ecological and environmental insight, which is a collective asset to the local unhoused Community. Others of the local unhoused Community are more likely to respect the sensitivity of the ecosystems in which they reside if they are more aware of how detrimental some of their activity can be to such ecosystems, or if they are aware that others within their particular Community take the initiative to mitigate some of the consequences of potentially detrimental activity.

For a distinctly socially disadvantaged segment of the Community, BEST provides opportunity for social, as well as environmental, contribution and improvement. This is more than socially and personally gratifying. It is healthy!

For the distinctly disadvantaged animal and plant life that inhabits and interacts with the associated ecosystems, but is unable to defend them, BEST does what it can to alleviate various ecological incursion, and promote recovery. So, BEST is not only healthy for the human participants, but is also healthy for the native flora and fauna of the intricate ecosystems of the San Lorenzo River Estuary.

October 10, 2021 – Memorial Tree Update

Memorial Tree – July 12, 2021

November 1, 2020, almost a year ago, was the last update for the resilient little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park. Since then, it began to develop a form that is more appropriate to the park parking lot that it inhabits, with a single straight trunk and a reasonably well structured canopy. (The illustration above is about three months old, from July 12, but the Tree has not grown much since then.)

Of course, the canopy will need to be pruned for continued structural development after it defoliates for winter. For now, lower growth remains somewhat obtrusive within the associated curbed parking lot island. This growth will be pruned up high enough so that no one must duck under it. As the tree matures, limbs that extend into the driveway beyond the curb must be higher than fourteen feet, so that they will not be obstructive to large vehicles. Slightly lower limbs are tolerable but undesirable over the adjacent parking spaces. Since the main trunk divides at about six feet above grade, main limbs must ascend rather steeply to attain clearance of more than fourteen feet above the adjacent parking spaces, which are only about three feet from the main trunk. Fortunately, the roadway is a bit farther than the adjacent parking spaces.

Sadly, the Memorial Tree was damaged as it was struck by a freighter truck that was too large to turn around in the parking lot. Fortunately, the damage is not as severe as it could have been. Only a bit of bark was scraped from the main trunk. The worst of the damage is a basal fracture, which should compartmentalize efficiently as growth resumes next spring. The Memorial Tree was staked and bound with a more resilient stake. Although such binding is not arboriculturally correct, it will be temporarily helpful through recovery. Hopefully, all binding can be removed within a year, but the new stake may remain with a loose strap afterward.

It has been gratifying to observe the Community popularity of the young Memorial Tree through all of its hardships. The Maintenance Staff of Felton Covered Bridge Park (the Santa Cruz County Department of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services) has been very protective of it, and offered to replace it if it had been too severely distressed to recover from various former damages, as well as its recent altercation. While it was not expected to recover from brutal vandalism in June of 2020, a few members of the Community, including someone who now resides in Southern California, likewise offered to replace it. No replacement is necessary. It survives and somehow thrives.

Bad Journalism

There are two primary reasons why the brief articles that post here have been of less than exemplary quality for the past year or so. Actually, they have been of rather substandard quality. (Okay, they have been downright ‘bad’.) I would prefer to avoid such unpleasant description; but that would merely defer the obvious.

Firstly, the second of the two primary reasons for the compromised quality of posts here is the lack of time to devote to composing them. I am simply overworked. It is a long and irrelevant story. To be brief, I continue to write horticultural articles for a few newspapers between San Francisco and the Los Angeles Region, while also working as many as three days weekly to help maintain landscapes at a local Conference Center. I know that I should retire from such writing, but can not bear to do so. Nor do I want to relinquish the landscape maintenance work, which was actually intended to be only temporary (a long time ago). Both are very enjoyable, but also limit my potential for other obligations.

Secondly, the first of the two primary reasons for the compromised quality of posts here is the lack of subject matter. There simply is not much to write about like there had been only a few years ago. This blog was originally intended to provide insight regarding the homeless and socially disadvantaged Community of Felton. However, so many of those who had previously lacked domestic situations presently reside in comfortable and safe homes, with stable lifestyles. Many who had previously been unemployed are presently gainfully employed, and therefore able to sustain their respective lifestyles. Relatively fewer have become deprived of domestic situations or employment while relatively more have procured the same. The socially disadvantages Community of Felton has been doing remarkably well. Ultimately, this is a good problem to contend with.

Personal Aversion

As much as I want to go, I also slightly dread returning to Los Angeles next February. I have more than four months to plan my trip, in order to accomplish what I intend to do while there. It will be a vacation of sorts, with only limited professional obligations. There are a few touristy follies that I have somehow always neglected, which I will now prioritize. I should be completely pleased with anticipation. I almost am.

However, I do not want to observe the situation with the unhoused Community there. It has become so prevalent. It can be oppressively saddening to see so many people in such unpleasant conditions. Although most other social conditions of many regions of Los Angeles have improved since I first visited in about 1986, homelessness has increased substantially. It can not be ignored.

Some encampments of the unhoused have become somewhat perennial within their respective situations. Some have been established long enough for vegetable gardens to produce vegetables for more than a single season. Although most encampments are reasonably neat, some that are inhabited by those afflicted with severe mental illness are deplorable and hazardous. People should not live like that.

Furthermore, those who work and inhabit residential buildings (such as houses and apartments) in regions where homeless encampments are established should not need to contend with such hazardous and unsightly conditions, especially since living there requires such significant expenditure.

As difficult as homelessness seems to be in our Community, it is overwhelming in more populous Communities. There are no simple solutions.

That is the source of the slight dread associated with my return to Los Angeles. I intend to enjoy my vacation, but I also expect to be somewhat saddened at times. Society should have evolved enough by now to remedy such problems.