This Starfish: Reassurances: LOTS More; Song: Who Will Watch The Home Place?

CONTENTS 1/30/2021
This Starfish
Real Life Reassurances
Coolers
Straw Bales
Relocated Campers
Soup Brigade
Needs List
Cool Donations
Facts With Context
Affordable Housing
Disappearing Fl!p
Current Shelters
No National Guard
Officer Assistance
Starfish & Upstream
Website Is back
Student Safe Space
Motel Mamas
Neighborhood Assn
B&O Impact
Conservation District Election
Orchard Spray And A New Roof
Rental Wanted
Radio Free Fl!p: Who Will Watch The Home Place?

THIS STARFISH

“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, “It makes a difference for this one.” I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.”  ― Loren Eiseley

I try to balance my life between “This Starfish” and heading upstream to see why the people we keep pulling out of the river have been falling in, as Bishop Desmond Tutu said.

REAL LIFE REASSURANCES

1. All progress comes through a series of failures. (From my big brother Joe.)

2. Anyone who believes in vast conspiracies has never tried to manage a multi-person project. (I think I got this from Rob Lopresti.)

3. Today’s solutions are often tomorrow’s problems. (Suzanne Carlson-Prandini, but she credits Howard Fuller, her boss at WCC Library.)

COOLERS

You all are AMAZING!!! We have a solid set of coolers that we can use as a lending library to deliver hot meals wherever they wind up needing to go. We’ve already started using them. It is so touching. I’m back at the Crossroads Of Kindness. Thank you!!!

STRAW BALES

Remember when you all donated for straw bales, and then things went sideways and we paused delivery? Now I’m so glad we did! We’re not yet sure when it might be time to try again. Things are so in flux right now.

So: if you want, I can return your donation.

Or: I can hold it till straw bales make sense somewhere

Or: I can spend it on other urgent needs as best I can figure

Zeke made me a database so I probably can figure out how much you donated for returns. Hoping you can let me know by the end of the week. Some checks made it clear that I could spend that donation as my best judgement dictated. After we paused the bales, I used the non-straw-bale-specific donations and bought mylar blankets, tarps, tents, 30 AA headlamps, see-through blue garbage bags for the laundry brigade…

…which reminds me; About 200 bags of laundry were rescued from the bulldozers. Does anyone want to help wash blankets & stuff, or donate towards costs? (Hmmm. I wonder if that means I need to buy another case of blue laundry bags.)

RELOCATED CAMPERS

Emergent needs at the relocated camp at Civic Field: Firewood. Cardboard. BOP has relocated the MealTrain, so it sounds like there is food, at least through Saturday. There are volunteers figuring out how many people are there. I’ve heard as many as 50 but it still seems to be a moving target. Some folks may leave since the parking lot surface slopes and there is no way to set tent stakes. It sounds like porta-potties have been delivered. Whew!

Volunteer outreach workers are sorting out where else campers wound up. We may need to help more than one site. There are also campers who scattered to the woods. And volunteers helped them move, so someone knows where they are, or at least where they were yesterday. We are trying to coordinate with those outreach workers. Get numbers and figure out how to send some hot food and other resources with the volunteers when they would be going anyway.

SOUP BRIGADE

We’ll want to make soup again soon. Right now we’re figuring out where and when and how much. If someone has time to make a SmartFood run for ingredients, let me know.

NEEDS LIST

These should be delivered directly to the Frank Geri ballfields:
Firewood
Cardboard – large pieces

These should be brought to our house:
Tarps 8×10 or larger (we got a great deal on a bunch from Wes at Hardware Sales. Maybe he’d sell us another big batch.)
Blankets – wool blend and dark colored poly, twin or smaller
Hat & Gloves, scarves and mufflers
Large sizes of men’s shoes. Waterproof helps, but anything is better than nothing.
    Men’s size 12 – easy on and off and able to bicycle in.
    Men’s size 13 – hard to find used.
    Woman’s size 10 – hard to find used.
Neck warmers that can be pulled up to cover face and nose
    Is there a group that could sew a bunch of these tubes in a hurry?
Ground pads (I can go back and dig for the link)
AA & AAA batteries
Tampons
Garbage bags, especially extra-large Contractor Weight bags.
Duck Tape – smaller rolls for volunteers to tuck in a rucksack.
Laundry Brigade

COOL DONATIONS

Folks have been donating amazing things:
Hand knit (and some handspun) wool hats, scarves & mittens
Fleece mufflers
160 pairs of hand warmers
Tents and more tents (bulldozed?)
Lots of ground pads (I’m so bummed so many were lost on Thursday)
A station wagon load of clear plastic tubs from a retiring school teacher
100 pairs of new wool socks!

  Let me talk about the socks a little: A friend contacted me about foot care. She’s a wound care nurse. She wanted to know who was taking care of campers’ feet. There is something called Trench Foot, like soldiers in the trenches got in World War One. (You don’t want to know. Argh! Argh! Argh! It’s really awful.) And it’s out there among campers who haven’t been able to dry out this winter My friend and another foot care nurse who’s already been working at this both said clean dry socks are critical for after wound care. Preferably a pair to put on and another to send along. So I called yet another friend who donated socks from Costco once before. Costco said they were almost out for the year. So my friend went and bought a huge box! And may go back for more. You are all welcome to join him. But they’ve got to be thick padded wool or poly hiking socks.

FACTS WITH CONTEXT

From Ed Wood from Birchwood

About two-thirds of the county’s homeless people last resided right here. I suspect there are people in Seattle, Everett, etc., who once resided here. Shipping them back and forth and dumping them would cost a lot, and not get them off the street.

After reading several comments about the makeup of our local homeless residents, I decided to refresh my memory by going to the annual census of homeless populations, The Point in Time census that has been conducted since 2008 (this year’s survey was made Thursday, and I have been told the results will be published in May, although last year’s is dated July). It can be found at https://www.oppco.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Whatcom-2020-homeless-count-report-_081920_UPDATED-FINAL.pdf

A few interesting numbers jump out. The homeless population decreased 16 percent over the time span of the surveys. I suspect the numbers will be somewhat higher this year. Thirty four percent of respondents (those choosing to participate) self-report having mental illness, 23 percent report a physical disability, 17 percent have a chronic illness, 14 percent abuse drugs or alcohol, and 9 percent have a developmental condition. The report notes “Due to the stigma of mental illness and substance abuse, these conditions are almost certainly under-reported.”

About two-thirds reported that their last fixed address was in Whatcom County and thirty-nine percent stated that they are homeless because of eviction/loss of housing (the report lists many reasons, however).

There is a lot to learn about our homeless population in this report. I strongly advise reading it – including the appendices.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

There are places where a full 20% or more of the housing is publicly owned. The state of Utah has eliminated 90% of chronic homelessness. Our government can and has built housing. They can hire locals to build it to boost employment. There is a small, low income apartment building right across the creek from my old house on Moore Street, with 16 one bedroom apartments. I drove past it a week or two ago. After over 25 years, it’s still in nice clean condition with a relaxed air about it. It was never a problem when I lived by it. I would like to see publicly owned, durable, high quality, low-income, well-managed mini-apartment buildings scattered through every neighborhood in town.

DISAPPEARING Fl!P

I’ve been keeping my mouth shut for days, for fear of setting off the powder keg with campers caught in the crossfire. I have relationships with people in all areas of this issue. I wish to preserve those relationships if I can. And I have people barking at me about being “political” for talking too much about the situation at City Hall, and others barking at me for being critical of the protesters’ violence, and some barking that I’m not sharing the City’s press releases so I’m not Fair and Balanced. And folks barking because I said the National Guard was here. (They were right, it wasn’t.) I figure everybody is upset in general and must feel some bit of hope in me. I finally just turned off the computer and went and made soup for Thursday night dinner for the refugees who evacuated to Civic Field. I had heard some of them hadn’t eaten all day.

The issues are complicated and varied. People have been politicized while the humanity of individuals (the homeless, citizens, city workers and police) have been questioned.

CURRENT SHELTERS

Homelessness is complex, and there is no one solution that will work for everyone. I have not been able to find it documented how many people are turned away from Base Camp & the Drop In Center, and why. Not to punish our providers. Of course they can’t handle every problem! But this is critical information with which to understand what the gaps are in our system, and the size of those gaps. Does anyone know if that data is being collected and if so, where it is available?

NO NATIONAL GUARD

Although I was told they were there by multiple sources, our sheriff says they were not there, and that it would have taken action by the governor to have them come. I believe this. US Border guards were there as well as police. Not sure about sheriff’s officers.

OFFICER ASSISTANCE

I had heard rumors that the protesters had been invited back and was shocked but not surprised when the City swept early. I was horrified that, although the publicity all said the officers were there to ASSIST the campers to gather their belongings, find transportation, and safely relocate, I have heard of only one occasion where any assistance was actually given, and that was on the part of one individual officer who permitted a volunteer with a trailer to bring it in closer so the volunteer could load faster and with less effort. I have heard of no lifting, carrying, listening kindly, making phone calls to seek resources or information. Nothing. If others have heard or seen instances of assistance I would appreciate hearing about them.

From an outreach volunteer:

Just an on-the-ground report from me- I went down to the sweep at 10a to try to help break down the food tent. I was there for about 2 hours.  I did not witness any police support for moving campers. There were lines of heavily armed police around the perimeter of the camp, including officers on the roofs of buildings- which I can only assume are snipers? Also, many bulldozers.  

The efforts to get the campers relocated appeared to be exclusively from volunteers and campers themselves. A line of protesters were holding the police line to try to ensure campers had adequate time to move their belongings. I do not believe the camp would have felt safe if the police entered anyway. The police told me they could not keep me safe if I crossed the line into the camp, even though I said I was there to help break down tents. Two homeless men have been arrested, as of now. I witnessed one of the arrests. There did not appear to be violence, only anger and assertiveness which makes sense. 

STARFISH, AND UPSTREAM

So, from where I sit and tap tap tap, I keep in mind This Starfish, and my heart is broken open by your kind response. And we need to keep looking upstream to understand the whole situation. And we’ll need to work together to solve it. And of course we can.

WEBSITE IS BACK

I bought the bottom tier, three year paid version of WordFence. My beloved emergency team of volunteer techies used it to scan and repair. They sat it’s safe now. They ask that if clicking on it ever takes you anywhere else, copy where it took you and send it to me. But they don’t expect any more of that.

It looks like it was a completely random attack.  I wrote asking for help to everyone I could think of that was a techie, and a team just assembled itself. One of my neighbors took the lead, with what seemed to actually be useful and accepted advice from my big brother, and folks I know from Guitar Camp. Thank you all for the rescue!

STUDENT SAFE SPACE

Fountain Community Church will be opening a safe place for middle school aged students. The hope will be to be open in the middle of February thru the end of the school year, Tuesday-Thursday, 2-4pm. FCC is working with the Health Department to make sure that safety protocols are followed. It will be a monitored space with internet access. it could be a great connect space for small groups, or just a place to go just for a change. If you have questions or concerns, please email Rick Qualls: rickq2000@yahoo.com.

MOTEL MAMAS

I called Lydia Place this past week about our support for the Motel Mama’s and learned a lot. If we donate useful items to some specific places, and tell them our donations are on behalf of Lydia Place, the organization is credited. They can then give vouchers to their clients, so clients can shop for free. Here’s what Lydia Place sent me:

Donate your new to gently used items to or on behalf of Lydia Place at our Donation Partnership locations by simply bringing up our name with your donation. Our clients receive regular vouchers to shop at these locations for the exact items they need and want, for free.

The Donation Partner Program is a vital resource for Lydia Place families as it allows us to to provide quicker access to a wider range we do not have the capacity to store or transport. More importantly, it gives our clients a sense of ownership and independence by giving them the option to choose items they want and need to make their new house a home. You can also go to the donation page of our website https://lydiaplace.org/support/

To donate Furniture, Building Supplies, Appliances & Household Items: 

Habitat for Humanity
1825 Cornwall Ave Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 778-2036 

Children’s & Maternity Items: 

Little Bugs Consignment
2400 Yew Street Bellingham, WA 98229
(360) 756-0507

OR 

Flip Kids & Maternity Consignment
1512 Ellis Street Bellingham, WA 98225
 (360) 671-0954

We currently do not have an active partnership for folks to donate used adult clothing and bedding items. 

If you have Lydia Place donation questions please contact our Community Outreach Coordinator, Joelle Parrs-Weinberg by calling 360.671.7663 x 2007 or by email at joellepw@lydiaplace.org.

COLUMBIA NEIGHBORHOOD ASSN. CALL FOR MEMBERS AND BOARD POSITIONS

Due to my personal health issues and work challenges due to COVID, I will be resigning from the CNA Board, effective with the election at our first meeting on Feb. 23. It’s a new year and typically at our first meeting we have our membership drive. This year requires us to do things differently. We are going to have an in-person CNA Membership Drive on Saturday, Feb. 20th, 10am-2pm at the Columbia Share Shack. If you would like to become a member, there are other ways to join. If you would like to be a member, please fill out this form at: https://tinyurl.com/cnamembershipform, which provides a place to share your interests and a variety of payment options in case you can’t make the in-person Membership Drive. In this form, you will also be able to express interest in becoming a board member!!! We will be sure to invite you to our next board meeting later this month, provided you filled out the form in the next week. Thank you for your interest in making our neighborhood a great place to live.

Please email columbianeighborhoodassociation@protonmail.com if you have any questions. Thank you, Jill MacIntyre Witt, CNA President
Walnut Street

[And thank you Jill for your many years of service to our neighborhood and community!]

B&O TAX IMPACT

Please spread the word that with city hall closed, business owners cannot turn in B&O tax in person. And there’s an error on the address to mail it to on the form. Do not mail it to Po box and zip code listed. Instead, mail it to 210 Lottie St, zip code 98225 ~Eileen Gribble

CONSERVATION DISTRICT ELECTION

The Whatcom County Conservation District dispenses grant money. It’s an important support for both farmers and the environment. Elections to the board that decides how the funds are spent are county-wide but oddly are not included in general elections. The only way to vote in the Conservation District election in March is to request a ballot by February 8. There will not be an opportunity to vote in person this year because of Covid-19. So: if you were feeling complacent about requesting a ballot because there’s always the in-person voting option, that door is closed. Please request your ballot now from  www.whatcomcd.org/board-elections

The ballots are due back by March 23.

ORCHARD SPRAY AND A NEW ROOF

To the Columbia Neighborhood: We are still battling winter moth and coddling moth in our orchard. Does anyone know someone who sprays orchards? Maybe someone who is even a little organic?  We’re also looking for someone who has experience with metal roofing and can put a metal roof on our Pergola. About 15x20ft. ~ Ahwren Ayers 360-312-1244

RENTAL WANTED

We are a 58 & 60 yrs old young couple. We have our own professional business in home renovation and holistic therapy. We are Looking for a home to rent in south bellingham to Lake Samish are preferably starting spring/early summer . we are neat, responsible, friendly and good communicators. We have no pets and do not smoke. We are outdoor enthusiasts along with holistic health and music. If need any carpentry work may be able to do as well. Looking for space thats spacious and light. Around 1000 plus SQ FT, 2-3 bedrooms, yard storage for outdoor gear and tools etc.  ~ Elizabeth Stanton 360 570-8653

WHO WILL WATCH THE HOME PLACE?

Written by Kate Long, sung by Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huj2zoz3oPg

Love/Fl!p 360-671-4511  flip@columbianeighborhood.org

If you’re willing to share your phone and address with me, personally, I would love that, and would not share it further without your express permission.

If you want to ask me to post something, just email me. If it’s urgent, phone. If it’s a real emergency, call 911.

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