Saturday, June 28, 2014

Yet more trouble at the Safe Ground organization

I am told that now, months after Steve Watters had been dismissed by the majority of the Safe Ground Board of Directors, those who have been working as organizers of the charity’s Pilgrimage Program are disgusted.

The Pilgrimage Program has been Safe Ground’s ONE shining success. This in contrast to the bungled, constantly changing and expanding effort to secure a plot of land [ie, a “safe ground”] and then create some sort of secure camping or living area that homeless people can use to – at minimum – make their lives a little less miserable.  A name that has been used for this envisioned community on a “safe ground” is Eden. It’s a terrible name, but somehow Safe Ground people are immune to understanding the problem with Orwellian naming schemes.*

An old logo of SafeGround's
While a few months ago a Safe Ground living area in northeast Natomas seemed to be on the verge of happening, everything went in the tank after mayhem within the Safe Ground Board of Directors caused the organization to, effectively, split in half between Steve Watters supporters and the Old Guard majority who fired Watters due to a perceived failure by him to raise enough money through donations and, I am told, because of some Safe Ground money Watters used to benefit management of the organization.

The Old Guard** prevailed and, since, things have been in disarray.  Now, instead of raising money by showing possible donors the immanent creation of a Safe Ground village of some sort, Safe Ground is now put back to where it was years ago with nothing more than a misty, far-off and uncertain dream.

With nothing else to do, the Old Guard is now poking around with (bad) ideas about how to re-organize the successful Pilgrimage Program, which could cause it to fall apart. Pilgrimage leaders have been dispirited since Watters was ousted. Worse than dispirited, in fact; it now looks like the long-time managers of Pilgrimage are poised to leave.

In resistance to a collapse of their dreams, some people are kicking around the idea of creating a new charity, if grant money can be found (which is possible) and Steve Watters is willing and available to be its Director.  Outside of the Old Guard, there is a lot of respect and affection for Watters. Watters seemed to be able to ‘get things moving,’ quell discontent and, within the Pilgrimage Project, get people who managed things to operate as a competent team. The problem with a ‘new charity’ is one of “Is there really ‘room’ enough and are there donors enough for two competing Safe Ground-like charities?” Might not that be crazy? But as a function of NEED, there are ample rough-sleeping homeless people in Sacramento County to benefit from MANY more charities that have a goal of sheltering homeless people. [According to the most-recent Sacramento Countywide Homeless Count, in 2013, there are 786 people who are rough-sleeping every night. That is ten times more people than the most grandiose of Safe Ground plans had hoped to shelter.]

But, understand, there have always been so very very many problems with Safe Ground and its “plot of land for a homeless community” aspiration that people would be foolish not to be highly dubious about the charity ever accomplishing anything wholesome and positive in that realm.

Now with the Pilgrimage effort in discord and disarray, the Old Guard is likely to move in and mismanage THAT. Safe Ground, the organization, may be imploding before our very eyes. To be, no more.

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* In George Orwell’s novels [such as 1984 and Animal Farm, most famously] Orwell criticized the insanity and mayhem in Stalin’s dystopian Soviet Union. A part of the insanity [in the Soviet Union, mocked (but, really, just copied) in Orwell’s books] was related to the use of names in Newspeak, where names were in sharp contrast to what was really going on.  In the Soviet Union, the government newspaper was Tass, the Russian word for “Truth,” whereas the articles in the paper were, notoriously, a bunch of government lies used to control and misdirect Soviet citizens. At the dystopia Loaves & Fishes, the park for the homeless is called “Friendship Park,” whereas the reality is that it is a place of control freakery by L&F management and much discord. Loaves & Fishes new building that serves as a warehouse and upscale offices for top administrators [“Everyone is equal, but some are more-equal than others,” was a rationale by the Pigs in Animal Farm for their affluence just outside the squalor that others endured.] is called The Welcoming Center, but homeless people are not welcomed there. They’re shooed away. The name Loaves & Fishes is Orwellian, too, for the organization that began as a soup kitchen. Loaves of bread and fish would be healthy food, but L&F, the charity, is known for not serving healthy food. The political group that many in the homeless-services Old Guard are attached to is the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, a Soviet-style Communist group whose leader famously, insanely admires Stalin. Oh, the humanity! Stalin is a prime candidate for the worst human being who ever lived. He managed to kill at least 20 million people [Russian records show 61 million] in his own country and in adjacent territory, independent of all those who died in World War II relating to Stalin's ruthlessness. [Other candidates for worst human being ever are Adolph Hitler, who killed a great many fewer people, but targeted children as well as adults; and Vlad the Impaler, who killed between 40,000 and 100,000, but they were impaled, which is both horrible and painful as hell, akin to being crucified but worse.]

** The Safe Ground Board of Directors, following the dismissal of Steve Watters and the resignations of his admirers on the Board, is now made up of the following oft-recirculated sleepy old folks [according to SG's website.] Note that not one of them is a homeless person.

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