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.
How do those with whom we have no prior affiliation perceive us? It is impossible to know without some degree of acquaintance. Yet, new acquaintance, while providing rudimentary insight of how others perceive us, or how we perceive them, also changes such perception in the process. Is that good or bad? It could improve a bad first impression, or ruin a good first impression.
Good or bad, it is more accurate. To most of us, such accuracy is considered to be an asset. Accurate perceptions of others are useful for knowing who is trustworthy and who is not. Mistrust that is justified by accurate perception of character or experience is very different from a lack of trust of the unfamiliar. Conversely, justifiable trust of the familiar is earned with familiarity.
Sadly, some prefer to mistrust and fear the unfamiliar rather than attempt to determine if such mistrust and fear are even justified. For some, their potentially unfounded but very real fear is what prevents them from exploiting opportunities to become more acquainted and perhaps more comfortable with the sources of the same fear. Some merely lack opportunities to exploit.
What is worse is that there are a few who seem to crave mistrust and fear, regardless of their ability to engage sources of their mistrust and fear, and potentially dismiss unfounded threats. Although they do not likely live in constant fear, they claim to in order to justify their disdain for the sources of their alleged fear. They try to convince others that they should be fearful too.
The same accuracy of information that the logical sort employ to dispel unjustifiable mistrust and fear is an incumbrance to those who intently crave the same sort of mistrust and fear. They therefore and merely abstain from the use of accurate information.
Cave paintings might be considered to be some of the oldest examples of what we now know as graffiti. Alternatively, such ancient forms of self expression might have evolved into the sorts of artworks produced by Lester Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassatt and Henri Matisse. Perhaps it all developed from the same primitive origins of more than sixty-four thousand years ago.
That is inconsequential now. Works of renowned artists are exhibited in museums. Graffiti defaces infrastructure until it gets painted over, or merely defaced and obscured by more graffiti. Except for several galleries of very compelling local art, and occasional touring exhibits, there are no formal art museums in Felton. However, there is more graffiti than only a few years ago.
Haters often blame the homeless for graffiti, merely because some of the homeless camp in some of the same places where graffiti is prominently displayed. In other words, the homeless did it because they were there. According to that logic, the haters must be responsible too, since they were also there. Otherwise, they would not have seen enough graffiti to blame others for it.
What makes anyone think that homeless people have any interest in the sort of elaborate graffiti that has been appearing around town for the past few years anyway? Homeless people have many more important issues to be concerned with. Drawing attention to their camp sites is not exactly a priority. Nor is spending limited funds on something as unnecessary as spray paint.
Besides, while graffiti has become more common than it has ever been, homelessness has become significantly less common. There are presently only a few homeless people in Felton. Most are not sufficiently agile to get into the situations where most of the graffiti has been displayed.
This should be a good year for us. It seems that every year of the past several has been a bit better than the previous. It is getting to sound redundant. In our small Community, the rates of homelessness and unemployment are decreasing. There are fewer becoming homeless than there are homeless procuring domestic situations. More are procuring employment than losing it.
We should be grateful. Although this has been the trend nationally, it is not the trend everywhere. Rates of homelessness have increased significantly in many Communities, particularly the more populous cities and towns of California. Homelessness in Los Angeles is beyond deplorable. Increasing employment does not help much while the cost of living exceeds typical incomes.
We do what we can with what we have to work with here, and slowly but surely, it is effective.
In February, some of us will be harvesting and selling madrone and oak firewood from a parcel that would benefit from major vegetation management. Burls of the younger madrones can be harvested and sold as well. The trees will be removed so that fruit trees can be installed next winter. It is not the most lucrative of work, but will more than pay for the pickup used to do it.
It is a start. There are a few more tanoaks to harvest in Brookdale after that, and then mixed oaks and some madrones outside of Scott’s Valley. For those involved, it will be gratifying to get back to work, even if it is only temporary before returning to work within former or other preferred professions. It will be even more gratifying if those who lack homes earn enough for rent.
It is still too early to discuss some of the other potential opportunities for employment this year; but there will be more.
Homelessness in America has been increasing very slightly for the past three years. It has been increasing in parts of California for a bit longer, and at a slightly more accelerated rate. More substantial increases are concentrated mostly in urban regions, particularly Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco. Homelessness really is a growing problem, at least for now.
However, for the decade prior to the
the relatively recent increase that began only three years ago,
homelessness had been decreasing at a substantial rate. Furthermore,
the substantially increasing rates of homelessness in urban regions
of California are sufficiently offset by decreasing rates in suburban
and rural areas, to average out to only a minimal increase for the
This is not about homelessness in all
of America though. Nor is it about homelessness in the rest of
California. Here in Felton, the rate of homelessness has decreased
significantly in the past seven years since 2012. Only a few people
became homeless here during that time, and most of those were not
homeless long. Several more who had been homeless have since found
So, why do haters so regularly and
predictably complain that homelessness is a growing problem in
Felton? Well, that is part of what they do. They perpetuate false
information intended to vilify their targeted victims, and exaggerate
any innate problems associated with them. They strive to be a
divisive force within an otherwise remarkably cohesive and inclusive
No verifiable statistical information
is necessary for a hater to claim that homelessness is a growing
problem in Felton. Conversely, any observant and sensible person can
plainly see that it is not. If homelessness really had been a growing
problem since 2012, there would be more homeless people in town
rather than less. It is that simple.