Skip to main content

The Safe Ground Cabin Village Idea is Alive, Alive – so says SN&R

March 13, 2014 issue
A full-page article in this week’s Sacramento News & Review, “Is a Safe Ground homeless camp coming to north Sacramento?” [titled “Safe Ground breaks through?” in hardcopy] by SNR staff writer Raheem F. Hosseini declares, ambiguously [note the question mark in the piece’s titles], that Safe Ground (the charity) may have found some safe ground (i.e., acreage exempted from anti-camping laws or building-code requirements) to build the cabin village it wants. In other ways, as well, the article tells us SG may be on its way to “make it happen.”

But while it is surely true when Hosseini tells us Safe Ground, in the person of its housed Executive Director Steve Watters, has a supporter/advocate on the Sacramento City Council in the person of Allen Warren, the representative for District 2, it would seem that Hosseini has failed to fully investigate the matter by gathering the sensibilities of the rest of the city council. After all, a single councilman is far from the necessary majority of the council to make any Safe Ground plan a functioning reality. But it does help mightily, as Hosseini points out, that Warren is eager to welcome the village in his own district in northeast Sacramento. It may be the defeating NIMBY (“NOT in my backyard!”) thing can be averted.
SafeGrounders behaving badly
However, long-existent other reasons for the city council NOT to approve any kind of Safe Ground tent or cabin community are still out there, unabated. While Safe Ground has done well with the Pilgrimage program it has – providing sleep space for homeless folk on floor areas, mostly at the property of churches – its history at illegal tent sites it has set up in years past is consistently terrible, revealing profound immaturity among its members. Further, the juvenility it displayed a few years ago in its effort to waste city councilmembers’ time by speaking incoherent nonsense during the two-minute-per-person time allotted citizens before general meetings is a memorable display of SG members’ foolhardiness.

At the first illegal tent campsite – after the famed “Tent City” was torn down  –  that Safe Ground set up, at Camp Pollock in early August, 2009, they cooked over fire, smoked and drank. Not so bad, you might think, though the guys had signed a contract forbidding drinking and drug use. But that August – like all Augusts in Sacramento – was hot and very dry. The field where they stayed was on a carpet of dead leaves and twigs. On the last of two nights I was there, I got up in the middle of the night to take a leak. There were glowing red dots about; people smoking while standing on the dry highly flammable ground.

Later, Safe Ground set up tents at property attorney Mark Merin and his wife, attorney Cat Williams, owned on C Street, east of 12th. There, the SafeGrounders managed to behave badly by constantly harassing a neighbor who lived in a nearby home. There was a lawsuit. It was also known that drug dealers gathered in the area.
Safe Ground’s Stalinist Communist Moorings
And the last and biggest thing that makes Safe Ground not so charming is that they were founded by the mysterious Stalinist Communist group SHOC [which stands for Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee]. SHOC was originally a subgroup of The Organizing Committee which came into being in the 80s after the break up of the California Communist Party. The Organizing Committee – or its primary actors, anyway – regrouped to create The League of Revolutionaries for a New America [LRNA] that, today, is centrally located in Chicago. That name is well chosen; it baldly states the group’s aim: to overthrow the government of the United States (such to impose Totalitarian Communist governance).

Safe Ground, at its founding, created a so-called “Safe Ground Movement” based on objectives that comport to those of LRNA. Now, I think that Allen Warren and the rest of the city council have a problem, here. Giving use of public property or sums of money to a political group is likely not legal. And, should Fox News or MSNBC find out they're shoveling funds to Communists, the matter would gain wide attention and, at best, our city would be a laughingstock. Not to mention that giving Safe Ground money is disgusting morally and the ultimate misuse of taxpayers’ funds.

The Dream of a Tent Community

If Safe Ground, using its own money to buy property and take care of itself, were to get the OK to create a small, pilot tent community, I think that might be worthwhile. The exact number is impossible to pinpoint, but there is something like 750 non-sheltered homeless adults in the county every night. If a Safe Ground tent community were to help one-tenth or one-seventh of those people have a safer experience, that would be to the good. Safe Ground made a great mess of things camping in the American River Parkway in recent years and there is no reason to think they will transform miraculously to become responsible, today. BUT every possible thing should be done to give unsheltered very poor people a better, safer existence. And, just maybe, a SG tent community would work out.  And who knows? Maybe from that bud of hope and possibility – and with success – the Safe Grounders can be entrusted to do something more grand in the future.

A reason to believe that the Cabin Village thing is greatly unlikely to come into being is because if it is built, at rather enormous expense, and then there is a flurry of problems – which is likely – how could the city council, easily, be rid of it? The SN&R article tells us that Safe Ground wants use of a north Sacramento plot of land AND $3,000,000!!! What happens, after the village is built and perhaps- inevitable problems occur? The Safe Grounders might quickly fall into toddler mode and protest that fires and drunken brawls are not really so bad and that the black eyes aren't really as black as they look and, besides, it'll never ever, ever happen again!  We promise. We'll sign a covenant. You'll see. Just give us a chance!

At some point organizations that evidence a record of ineptitude should be denied "another chance."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The devastating effects of schizophrenia in one man's life

A powerful story of the deteriorating life and death of once-respectable Sacramento citizen, Mike Lehmkuhl,  is told by  reporter Cynthia Hubert in Sunday’s [7/31/16] Bee.
Lehmkuhl is described as a very likable guy with a sometimes-goofy personality that went along with a formidable intelligence. He was a “standout wrestler” in high school and an “accomplished gymnast at Sacramento State” where he graduated and then got into the building trade before going on to run a contracting business and have a home proximate to Country Club Plaza.
Friends describe him as being “happy” and “sanguine” at that time in his life, when he was about age 50.
But, by 2011, when Lehmkuhl was 53, he was hearing voices in his head and his life began to fall apart. He tumbled into a homeless life, combatting demons in his head that spoke to him. The Hubert piece provides a comprehensive picture of a good man beset by a devastating condition: schizophrenia. Lehmkuhl had good friends and loyal family members…

Homelessness and Remembrance

This is a follow-up on the matter of remembering homeless people who have died and the Wall that Libby Fernandez wants to build in remembrance of the deceased. [See earlier blogpost "Tell Libby NOT to build her wall."]

This blogpost is prompted by a Philosophy Bites podcast released in the last couple days -- titled "Cécile Fabre on Remembrance." Fabre's take on why we honor or grieve for certain individuals or certain collections of individuals is not greatly helpful -- since his focus is mainly one of fallen war heroes and war casualties -- but it does open up the issue of why should there be a remembrance effort for deceased homeless people at all. Who is served by it? And has the effort been perverted by the avarice of charities in their insatiable drive for donations.

It is, for starters, a curious thing for "homeless people" to be a collective that is honored. I write that NOT because I don't want the best for homeless people. But, homelessn…

The first-person dimension of homeless Sacramentans suffering from Schizophrenia

"Disabilities and dysfunction process from having been shunned and denied access to needed opportunitites and networks of support."
~ the brothers Lysaker in Schizophrenia and the Fate of the SelfWhat is schizophrenia? How many are homeless Sacramentans?

Perhaps 15% of the Sacramento homeless population suffers from schizophrenia. The percentage is difficult to determine for many reasons that branch from both the fuzzy definition of the malady and that many people within the homeless community who have the illness (1) are in denial and are undiagnosed and (2) have the illness as a diagnosis only – the disability can be faked by people who are successful claimants of social security and other benefits.

What is schizophrenia? One webspace gives us this definition: The most chronic and disabling of the severe mental disorders. Typically develops in the late teens or early twenties. The overt symptoms are hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing visions), delusions (false beliefs ab…