So far, the Kahramanmaras Earthquake in Turkey and Syria two weeks ago killed more than 46,800 people. That is significantly more than the combined populations of Los Gatos and Scott’s Valley. More than 1.05 million people were left homeless. That is significantly more than the population of San Jose. These incomprehensible statistics are likely to increase.
Adjacent societies are unable to accommodate so many displaced survivors. Many survivors need to relocate very far from home merely to survive. This is why so many other societies of other regions are so graciously and generously accommodating survivors and sharing resources.
Very few within our local Community have experienced such major disasters. Of those who have, some arrived here as refugees from such disasters. None have experienced such disasters locally, because nothing so majorly disastrous has ever happened here.
Fortunately, graciousness and generosity seem to be very common human attributes, even if resources are limited, and even among those who lack experience with disastrous events. This is very obvious within our own Community, and is why we help each other during and after storms, floods, mudslides, fires and earthquakes. Of course, difficulties need not be catastrophic to justify gracious response. Many provide food, clothing, shelter, bedding and all sorts of other resources for the less fortunate who are not necessarily affected by catastrophes.
It never gets old. Sometimes, the extreme generosity of the local Community seems to be very unique, and we are honored to benefit from it. Sometimes, other Communities throughout the World are just as remarkably generous.
News from Turkey and Syria will be unpleasant for quite a while. Recovery will be slow. Also, within our own Community, some will always be in need of assistance. There will always be difficulties somewhere. There will always be opportunities for generosity and graciousness.
It would be nice to leave on Wednesday morning, but that seems unlikely at the moment. The next opportunity may not be until late next month, which would also be nice. I only need to get to and from Kitsap County in Washington prior to the bloom of the apple trees, which is weeks later than here. I return only two weeks after leaving. Then I will plan, or try to plan, my next two week trip to Los Angeles County and Maricopa County, which I hope to return from prior to June. Although both trips include significant horticultural pursuits, they are supposedly vacations.
I find that vacations take quite a bit of effort. Are they really any less stressful than staying at home in this idyllic situation and region that I inhabit, and working at employment that is as fun, relaxing and rewarding as mine is? They are certainly fun. However, by some interpretation, even that could be questionable.
I mean, I leave the stability and security of my home to drive to distant regions and temporarily inhabit unfamiliar situations. Regardless of how much more luxurious than my own home most of such situations are, they are not my home. While traveling, I am essentially homeless and transient, staying only briefly at various locations, and living out of my car. Homelessness is generally not fun.
Perhaps the security of knowing that I will eventually return to my stable domestic situation is a primary difference between vacation and homelessness. Perhaps a lack of harassment and discrimination comparable to that which the unhoused experience is another major difference.
Do destinations really define vacation? While on vacation, I get to go to some very interesting places. Yet, without going anywhere, those who are unhoused locally get to stay here. Which is better?
Real estate is depreciating significantly. There is no easier manner in which to say so. Some predict that this will be the most significant adjustment of the real estate market in modern American history. This adjustment is expected to be most severe within the first year, and then to continue for a few years. The more overpriced markets and overpriced properties will likely be affected most.
Recession, inflation, interest rates and the many economic variables that affect the real estate market are all so confusing. Their influences are undeniable though. Real estate investments are losing value. Rental properties will likely be generating less revenue soon. It all seems to be so unpleasant.
However, depreciation of real estate may improve the potential for some who would like to purchase a home to do so. Also, declining rental rates may facilitate procurement of rented domestic situations by some who would benefit from them.
The local real estate market has been unreal for quite a while. Average and better than average incomes have been insufficient to sustain mortgages or rents. Although declines of real estate markets are considered to be detrimental to the economies of their respective societies, they make real estate more realistic.
It will be interesting to observe the results of the declining real estate market, particularly in conjunction with what already seems to be a declining rate of houselessness. Any benefits from such loss would be gratifying.
Meanwhile, although many homes were damaged by severe weather since the end of December, only about eight were destroyed within all of Santa Cruz County. Those that were damaged should be repairable, so those who inhabit them should not lack them for too long.
The innate risks associated with real estate here do not deter many of us from continuing to live here.
Homelessness is expensive. It costs significantly more than twice as much as public education! More specifically, for each beneficiary, the average annual cost of services for or associated with homelessness is about two and a third times as much as the average annual cost of public education for each beneficiary. It is very understandable that so many are concerned about such expenditures of tax revenue.
Homelessness is also relatively rare, however, and therefore substantially less expensive collectively than public education. Because less than half of a percent of the populace is homeless, services for and associated with homelessness in California had been limited to approximately six billion dollars annually. Because approximately fifteen percent of the populace attends public schools, public education in California costs more than ninety five billion dollars annually. Therefore, public education costs almost sixteen times as much as homelessness.
Nonetheless, it is very understandable that a few who are unaffiliated with anyone who is homeless sometimes complain about the major expense of services for and associated with homelessness. What those who complain typically fail to consider is that, not only is the expense of public education much more substantial, but that those who are unaffiliated with anyone who benefits from public education are not exempt from such expense.
We all collectively pay taxes. We all lack control of how tax revenue is allocated. Everyone pays for everything. Those who do not drive cars pay for the maintenance of roadways. Those who disapprove of particular politicians and public servants pay for their salaries. Those who lack children pay for the education of the children of others. Those who live in homes pay for those who do not. It would be too complicated, and for some, prohibitively expensive, to pay only for justified expenses. Otherwise, those who already assume the major expense of raising children would also pay significantly more for their education.
Furthermore, children who benefit from public education generally pay no taxes yet, as almost all of those who are presently homeless have done in the past. As almost all publicly educated children will pay taxes in the future, most homeless people will eventually resume paying taxes as they recover from homelessness. Some homeless people have served in the Military, for a Society that includes a few who now complain about the relatively minor cost of providing important services for them, when they need such services most.
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.’.”
An obituary typically precedes a memorial, to inform the Community of a subsequent memorial. In retrospect, the memorial was at 3:00 last Saturday afternoon at the Footbridge Service Center, at 150 Felker Street in Santa Cruz. Those of us in Felton only became aware of it two days prior, on Thanksgiving Day. Time was insufficient to gather the information that is necessary for the composition of an obituary.
Besides, it is not easy. It is downright difficult. I will not even attempt to compose an obituary now. It will take a few days.
To be perhaps disrespectfully brief, our old friend, David Lindberg of Boulder Creek, while asleep early in the morning of November 13, succumbed to infection associated with a scorpion bite. He had attempted to meet with a physician at HPHP (Homeless Persons Health Project) during the previous day, but arrived late, so intended to return during the following morning. He had not perceived the infection to be severe enough to justify seeking emergency medical attention at Dominican Hospital earlier. He was fifty five years old, and living unhoused in Santa Cruz at the time.
What began as a single Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree, is developing into a grove too quickly. At the beginning of the rainy season, another Monterey cypress was to be added for another old friend who succumbed to cardiac arrest last year. Now, a third Monterey cypress must be added for David Lindberg. Fortunately, two more Monterey cypress will be assets to the landscape. However, it is saddening that they are necessary. Although death is an unavoidable consequence of life, it seems that too much of it has been happening during the past few years. Perhaps that is a consequence of remembering.
Wednesday, September 22, will be the first day of autumn. The nights have been getting a bit longer and a bit cooler for a while already, and will continue to do so for a while more. The rainy season could begin at any time. Although days begin to get longer on December 21, the first day of winter, weather continues to get cooler through the early part of winter. Indian summer may or may not delay the inevitable prior to November.
Most of us will spend more time inside as the seasons progress, perhaps with a fire in a stove or fireplace. Walls and ceilings retain warmth. Roofs exclude rain. The cooler and wetter weather of autumn and winter is generally not a serious problem. It is an asset to gardens and forests, and temporarily relieves the anxiety of fire season.
However, for those who lack walls, ceilings and roofs, the impending cooler and wetter weather can be very unpleasant. Options for generation of warmth, and the retention of such warmth, are both limited. Exclusion of rain may necessitate the use of obtrusively visible tents or tarps, which draw attention to already precarious situations. Those who reside temporarily within the dry spaces below bridges might be displaced if substantial rainfall overwhelms the drainage capacity of the associated creeks or river.
Several families who formerly inhabited homes that were destroyed by the CZU Fire last summer will continue to inhabit their respective properties without their homes through this autumn and winter. Some inhabit campers or similar vehicles, which are significantly more comfortable than tents. Regardless, houseless lifestyles of any sort are certainly not easy. Some who were deprived of their former domestic situations by the Fire are unable to inhabit their respective properties, so needed to relocate, even if just temporarily.
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.
This is becoming too much like a miniseries. To disrupt the monotony, we could consider the alternative to choosing to living in fear. After all, that is what most people prefer to do. They appreciate the Community in which we live. The climate and scenery are certainly assets also. Actually, there are many reasons why we live where we do. There are a few unpleasantries that occasionally instill major fear, such as the CZU Fire, the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the Love Creek Mudslide; but most of us prefer to fear them only when justified.
Society is certainly not perfect. That applies everywhere. There is always some degree of social problems such as crime, mental illness and homelessness. Few choose to live in fear of these imperfections. Most prefer to enjoy their particular society, and contend with social problems only as necessary. Precautionary measures, such as home security systems, are not necessarily indications of irrational fear, but are generally employed by those who prefer to be less concerned with undeniably present social problems.
Society certainly should not be completely derided for its innate imperfections. It is more than redeemed by its assets. Otherwise, people would not want to live in societies or Communities such as ours. To the contrary, most people in most Communities believe that their respective Community is the best of all, simply because they would prefer no other. That is likely how it should be, in a Community in which most choose to not live in fear.
Those with the least, particularly those lacking a domestic situation (the unhoused), can attest to how exemplary our local Community is. The graciousness and generosity exhibited here is astounding. It is understandable that so many of us believe that this is the best Community in which to live and participate.
As mentioned last week, “Those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear seem to be rather deficient of common logic.” This is exacerbated by their ignorance of such deficiency, or worse, by their innate but unfounded belief that they are somehow more logical than others of the Community.
For example, many of those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear want all homeless encampments to be demolished without a plan for those who would be displaced by such demolition. They simply do not understand how important planning is, or that a lack of planning is contrary to the intended results of the unplanned demolition that they want.
No one wants homeless encampments within the Community. Those who inhabit such encampments, including the few who do not require domestic situations, would prefer more stable lifestyles. Neighbors understandably dislike the unsightliness. In some regions, the associated fire hazard is a major concern.
Logical people realize that the unplanned demolition of homeless encampments will not help any of the inhabitants of such encampments be any less homeless than they already were. They understand that the expensive process merely relocates the unsightliness of homelessness, but does not eliminate it. Logical people who are truly concerned about the fire hazard associated with homeless encampments would prefer to confine such hazard to less combustible and relatively manageable regions, rather than relocating such hazards to more combustible forested regions outside of town.
There are no simple remedies for all homelessness. Logical people understand that. Those who choose to live in unrealistic or unjustified fear do not, and some seem to be intent on preserving the very same dysfunction that they choose to fear with such dedication. Perhaps that is quite sensible. What would they do without the unrealistic or unjustified fear that they choose to live in?