few months back, I offered to lay off of the criticism if I saw
positive steps taken to address the housing crisis in Southern
Humboldt. I offered bonus points if it happened before annual influx
of trimmigrants. It didn’t. 2016 was a brutal year for people out on
the streets in Southern Humboldt. Several people died in makeshift
encampments last year, under suspicious circumstances, and a few
elderly homeless people were badly beaten on the streets of
Garberville over this past Summer and Fall. However, now that winter
weather has arrived, Peg Anderson and Yashi Hoffman have organized a
severe weather shelter for people with nowhere warm to be on the
coldest nights of the year.
and Yashi brought together a coalition of people who care, including
the Presbyterian Church in Garberville, the Baptist Church in
Redway, David Ordonez (a big-hearted guy I know from the SHARC club),
and I don’t know how many other volunteers to make it happen.
Separately, none of them could do it all, but when Peg and Yashi got
them all together, they were able to make it happen. Without them,
we would have no emergency shelter at all in Southern Humboldt.
had to start from scratch, since the Veterans Hall, SoHum’s
traditional severe weather shelter, is out of commission due to
mold, and Paul Encimer, the guy who organized the shelter at the
Veteran’s Hall for many years, was just evicted himself, from his
bookstore at the north end of Garberville. Peg and Yashi bring an
entirely different energy to the situation that people can feel in
their hearts and in their stomachs. Peg and Yashi have literally
fed this community for two generations, through Chautauqua, the
natural foods grocery store they ran, until recently turning it over
to the next generation.
and Yashi have certainly earned whatever leisure time their
semi-retirement allows them, and no one forced them to step up to
the plate here. In fact, I’ll bet a lot of people discouraged them
from even trying, but they decided to do it anyway, and they did it
together. That’s cool. Actually, that’s love, but love is cool with
me, and a lot of people are feeling that love on these cold nights,
like we’ve had over the past week or so. Be sure to thank Peg and
Yashi for that, and for any heart-warming feelings you get from this
uncharacteristically positive post.
also want to mention a very charming group of young people,
including Jasmine Rene Stafslein, Shakti and their friends, who
prepared care packages for people on the street, and distributed
them over the holidays. That was a very thoughtful gesture, that I’m
sure was very much appreciated. They made the effort to wear bright
colors and to be friendly and cheerful as well. I think that’s
really love too. Shakti even invited me to join them.
hate to see my friends struggle so hard to survive, and I help when
I can, but I’m much more interested in punishing the middle-class
for their smug, indifference, their hostility towards the poor, and
their greed. That’s where the juice is. We’ll run out of planet
long before I run out of material on that front, which is why the
work I do here matters. The middle-class must be stopped.
many heart-warming stories like this, about good people helping one
another would kill this column and undermine what I’m trying to do
here. When middle-class people start treating poor and working-class
people like human beings, they make my job as a social critic more
difficult, and less necessary. It’s simple really. My criticisms
only sting because they are true. The less true you make them, the
less they sting. The less they sting, the less anyone notices, and
the sooner I have to find something else to write about.
the other hand, people need to see an example of what good people
are like once in a while. So here you have a couple. Do you want to
see more? If you, or someone you know, is doing something to bring
this community together, to make it more livable for working people,
and more survivable for the poor and vulnerable, let me know, and
I’ll write about it.
Go ahead. Try to put me out of work. Just be forewarned that stuff you do to help your own kids doesn’t count. They’re your responsibility anyway. Also, stuff you do that protects, or raises your property values, doesn’t count either. I don’t want to hear about your parks or your schools or your goddamn hospital. I only want to hear about things that people do, out of the kindness of their hearts, to make life easier, and better for the people who have it the hardest in this community. In the meantime, I have plenty else to write about in 2017.