Homeless Crisis; Council Meeting; Bottle Drive; More; Recycling; Free Ramp; Song: Trouble In Mind

CONTENTS 2/9/2021
Homeless Crisis
   City Council Meeting
   Questions I’ve Been Asked
   Soup Brigade
   Productive Conversation
   Needs
   Plastic Bottle Drive!
   Teens & Young Adults
   Little Free Pantry
   We Got Rules!
Whatcom County Recycling Changes
Free Ramp
Duet
Music Lovers Quotes
Jim And Susie Malcolm
Radio Free Fl!p: Trouble In Mind

CITY COUNCIL MEETING

The meeting just ended. I signed up to speak, and waited all night. It looks like there was some sort of IT glitch and my name was never called. Here’s what I wanted to say. I’ll email them all tomorrow.

We need immediate help, now, and we need no violence enforced for the safety of our unhoused neighbors. If there had been an earthquake, I’m sure shelter, warmth, food, sanitation, & outreach services would be deployed overnight by our emergency services. How can we do less now with wind chill headed for 7 degrees come Wednesday night? It is already below freezing outside for citizens who have been unable to get dry for months.

Can you not call out emergency management to mobilize tonight?

Can you not at least meet again tomorrow to take action? People may well die from the cold. There are no options for so many.

Our neighborhood and our many friends have cooked daily hot meals, and donated thousands of dollars worth of material support to our neighbors sleeping outside, and we watched in horror as those resources were literally bulldozed – all the insulated ground pads, sleeping bags, tents, tarps – into dumpsters. Heartbreaking. Please don’t do that again.

None of the additional beds at the Drop In Center are available to anyone who has not been first accepted by Base Camp. The Drop In Center has been completely empty so far this year.

The tone of outrage, that people without homes would turn down the lovely new shelter out of sheer spoiled stubbornness, is very hard for me to listen to. It’s unfair to both our unhoused neighbors, and to Base Camp, to set unrealistically high expectations.

There does not seem to have been any real effort to find out why homeless people have not filled Base Camp. It’s unfortunate that that question was not explored, and that a great deal of money was spent on “solutions” that obviously don’t work for so many people. And since the money has been spent, a lot of people seem to be busy looking for someone to blame (whether the Mission or homeless folks) instead of figuring out what to do now. And the cold is here, and the temperature is dropping fast.

We need information collected, without blame: How many are turned away, and because of what issues? Then we can figure out how to fill those gaps. But meanwhile, we need managed emergency winter shelter now, today, this week.

You can write too:

City Hall’s street address is 210 Lottie Street, 98225.
mayorsoffice@cob.org
ccmail@cob.org

The Whatcom County Courthouse address is 311 Grand Avenue, 98225
ssidhu@co.whatcom.wa.us
council@co.whatcom.wa.us

QUESTIONS I’VE BEEN ASKED

Or at least the answers I given. I bet you can guess the questions.

If someone is saying Outsiders are flooding in for us to care for, they should have to document that. The Point In Time homeless survey from a year ago showed 2/3 had their last permanent address in Whatcom County. They are ours. If we tried to drive out anyone from “elsewhere” (and of course “elsewhere” did the same, driving our folks back here) we would have spent a lot of resource without having helped anyone and still have similar numbers.

The churches who have provided shelters in former years have mostly older volunteers so they are unable to help because of COVID this year.

Skagit has committed to a much larger shelter than ours, though they don’t have it built yet. It will have many tiny homes surrounding a warehouse repurposed for kitchen, bathrooms, and outreach services. With supervision/ casework / management, which we are missing!

I think every single neighborhood should be required and assisted to host a tiny home village (yes, Edgemoor too), and also to scatter REAL low-income, publicly owned tiny apartment buildings throughout Bellingham and all the smaller towns. Nothing huge. For years I lived next door to a 16-unit, publicly managed low-income apartment building, on Puget near Geri Fields. I never experienced any problems with it. I drove by recently and it still looks to be in excellent repair, and calm, after over a quarter century.

We need federal funding for both tiny homes and apartments. But right now, today, we need managed shelter to keep our homeless neighbors from dying this week, sleeping on the ground. Who are we that we would permit this to happen!!!?

SOUP BRIGADE

We’re getting closer to functional. I could use cooks for every day of this week since the weather will be so frigid. You’ll deliver to the SwiftHaven Tiny House Village at 1555 Puget 98229, on the east edge of Civic Field. This is not the same as the encampment further down the hill at Geri Fields, which the City has posted for a sweep but has not yet swept as of today.

In the longer term, we will try for Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday dinners weekly. For now, let’s just feed them if we can.

What we’re going to try is two 5 – 6 PM dinner deliveries for 25 (about 3 gallons). One will be delivered in one of our big loaner pots. When cooks drop off their soup, they get to pick up an clean empty pot to bring back to our house for the next cook. With luck, this will work. We’d also love more soup pots from Goodwill etc. We could just keep adding pots till we reach saturation.

And a second cook can deliver 25 dinners in pint take-out containers, also to SwiftHaven, also around 5 PM. You will be greeted by a masked resident who will accept your meals and get them into insulated boxes. Those individually packaged meals will be picked up by outreach volunteers who will take and distribute them to unsheltered neighbors sleeping in woodlands and behind buildings and such. Outreach volunteers have been working to set up drop off points for meal delivery near these hidden, temporary resting places.

We also need meals right now for a family with children, shivering in an RV. I think heavy quart containers, like yogurt & deli tubs, would be good. I can accept clean, sturdy containers with lids that fit tightly for this purpose. Please don’t drown me, but do bring me some yogurt tubs for soup for the family. If you’d like to cook for the family, let me know. Those meals will also be dropped off at SwiftHaven.

If you can cook, but would be unable to drop off at SwiftHaven, we may be able to find someone to help drive. If you’re someone who might do that, let me know.

I still have ingredients, containers, and soup pots. I could use a SmartFood run to get more ingredients. I can contribute donated funds. I’d love to outfit you cooks.  I have pasta, rice, lentils, split peas, soup base and pesto. And carrots, celery, and onions. I’m going to try to get a bunch more shredded cheese tomorrow. Please, let’s talk! 360-671-4511

I hope cooks will check in with me so we get enough hot meals but not too many on each day. You can pick up ingredients, pots and containers at our house. Email, call or text to set up a time so everyone doesn’t arrive at once. This will also let me try to keep enough supplies in stock. Thank you! Fl!p Breskin – flip@breskin.com 360-671-4511

PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATION

I am not the only one who thinks every single neighborhood should be required and assisted to host a tiny home village. There is a discussion about where we in Columbia Neighborhood could best site such village. It needs land about the size of one city lot, or maybe two. Here’s a link to that conversation. Last I looked, it was still civil. Please keep it that way!
(Gah! Can’t find it. Someone send it to me and I’ll post it tomorrow.)

NEEDS

Especially water. Bottled water. Everyone asks for water. They’re desperately thirsty, the people sleeping on the ground deep in the woods, trying not to be seen and swept. Big milk jugs filled with tap water would be good to use for washing but they would need to be CLEAN with lids on.

Warm gloves, hats, scarves, thick, padded wool socks (no cotton), mylar blankets, hand and toe warmers, tarps, ground pads, little sample toothpaste tubes, AA & AAA batteries, TP, trash can liners, sleeping bags (synthetic, because down doesn’t stay warm when it’s wet).

PLASTIC BOTTLE DRIVE!

Please keep and collect your EMPTY, small and medium sized plastic bottles with thick lids. We are collecting them to help HEAT our unhoused neighbors when temperatures drop. These items can save a life! Please contact at jc@homesnow.org for pickup/delivery arrangements. Thank you so much! These bottles will be filled with hot water and handed out to folks sleeping on the ground in the cold, as hot water bottles. Make sure your bottles are clean, uncrushed, and have the thick lids. Also needed are sleeping bags, ground pads, wool blankets, hand warmers…

TEENS & YOUNG ADULTS

The Ground Floor is still operating in their space in the basement of First Congregational Church on Cornwall and has been throughout the pandemic. It is run by Northwest Youth Services, which provides a number of resources for teens and young adults. The Ground Floor is a day-use center and is a place where young people can get access to services for basic needs (clean clothes, showers, food) as well as support to help them get off the streets. Last year the city supported running a cold weather shelter there from December until March, but my understanding is that they didn’t do that this year because space is really too small for that. More information about all the resources that Northwest Youth Services offers can be found at https://www.nwys.org/

LITTLE FREE PANTRY

We decided to turn our Little Free Library at Utter and North into a little free pantry. Please bring or take non-perishable items only.  Also please don’t fill it too full or place any items outside the cabinet.  Enjoy and thank you for helping one another through this ordeal (Covid, economy, divisiveness, climate, etc.)! ~Aaron Silverberg

WE GOT RULES!

How one community is supporting their homeless neighbors and helping them organize themselves.

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2021/02/08/we-got-rules-down-here-east-bay-homeless-camps-are-getting-organized-5/

WHATCOM COUNTY RECYCLING CHANGES

Things are happening behind the scenes. See what it means for you and your curb side pick-up at a Q&A with SSC and Lautenbach Recycling on Tuesday Feb 9th 4-5:30pm. Organized by Sustainable Connections.

Whatcom County’s long standing recycler, NW Recycling, is ceasing business on February 1, 2021. This leaves Whatcom County without a local processor for our recyclable materials and likely means there will some big changes to our local recycling services. Zoom in and share your thoughts and ideas.

Studies have shown that a Zero-Waste approach is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies to protect the climate.

https://sustainableconnections.org/events/waste-and-whatnot/

FREE RAMP

Heavy plywood. Sturdy, steady, and relocatable. It was used to get wheelchairs, bikes & garden carts up and down a single 6” step at our place before our remodel. ~Fl!p – flip@breskin.com

DUET

My friend Laura Smith reminded me of a Musical Moment: One of my favorite memories from a lifetime of music was with my friend Gemma when she was still very small, somewhere between baby and toddler. We sat at the keyboard with her on my lap. She took the lead, pounding on the keys with full hands. I listened as carefully as I could, and reproduced her rhythm and general cadence as closely as I could while also hitting handfuls of keys. She quickly grasped what I was trying to do, and led me on a merry chase, leaving room for me to echo her. We went on for an amazingly long time. It was a huge, real-time challenge. One of the greatest musical triumphs of my life!

MUSIC LOVERS’ QUOTES

Harold Arlen (Over The Rainbow): “Music doesn’t argue, discuss or quarrel, it simply breathes the air of freedom.”

Hopefully, once we have “herd immunity” we will find ourselves in a “heard community.” ~ Nina Feldman

Nancy’s Farm presents:
JIM AND SUSIE MALCOLM

Live in concert by Zoom from Scotland
Harmonies, banter, images, slideshows…
Sunday Feb 21, 2021 @ 2pm PST
Traditional and contemporary Scottish folk songs with guitar and harmonica,  including some old favorites and selections from their forthcoming album
Suggested donation $15
To register please email: susie@jimmalcolm.com
(please mention you are registering for the Bellingham WA concert.)
Zoom codes and donation links will be sent to all who register.
If we can’t be in the same room
then let’s be in the same Zoom

RADIO FREE Fl!P: TROUBLE IN MIND

Big Bill Broonzy. I got to play his guitar one time. It was amazing, but way too big for me. I felt like a three-year-old girl trying to ride a Percheron.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ftkzo-otEyo&list=RDFtkzo-otEyo&start_radio=1

Love/Fl!p 360-671-4511  2518 Cherry Street flip@columbianeighborhood.org

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