Blake Lehman invited people to call in. He said what they are looking for is positive solutions to deal with the clean-up issues. He said they are asking business owners to clean the sidewalks in front of their businesses each morning to set a good example, and asking people to watch out for each other, especially the elders and children. He acknowledged that people have different ideas and beliefs but he hoped to come up with a "common goal to make our area more appealing, to make our families safer, to get back what I remember Garberville and Redway being like when I was a kid." He asked people who called in to identify themselves and where they live. Thirteen callers shared their ideas.
Paul Encimer was the first caller. He commended the Chamber's approach and explained the formation of CHILL - Community Help In Living Locally, a group recently formed "to get to know the people on the street better and be of help." CHILL plans to survey merchants to find out where the "pressure points" are and which merchants are having problems, and they plan trainings in non-violent conflict resolution. The Chamber agreed to take a look at the survey and may be able to help get it distributed.
Joe Hiney called in and pointed out that there is a diverse population of people coming into the area, and they are being abused because of the local industry. He suggested that an association be formed to register these people to work, and that a place be created for them to wait for potential employment. Paula related his idea to where she grew up in Sonoma County. She said they were overwhelmed by a migrant vineyard-worker influx where people lined the streets on a daily basis waiting to be picked up for work, so they created a day-worker facility where people could congregate instead. And Lehman broke in to "remind people that we need to hire local, shop local, and spend our money local."
Blue Morning, born and raised in Whale Gulch, complained of people from out of the area coming here and being rude. He said when people are looking for work they need to be presentable and respectful. He mentioned disrespectful people being run out of Shelter Cove recently. Paula said the Chamber's first five priority areas of focus are Garberville, Redway, Shelter Cove, our rivers and our forests. And Miclette agreed with Blue, "There needs to be a higher level of respect and courtesy."
Ed "Running Bear" from Piercy, said the crowd could be reduced by half by having a hostel available, inexpensive accommodations where people can sleep and take a shower.
Crow said, "It seems a certain segment of society just wants to be free without social constraints, to travel and bum around," but he thought the main problem was that "a lot of the people who are homeless are the most damaged, the most broken people in American society, and their bad behavior just reflects the state of American social values at the present moment: with the NSA and politics and business and corporations and everything else." He said he didn't have any solutions.
Spyrock said he is clean-shaven and is looking for work in a different place, and doesn't want to go to the streets of Garberville because, "Garberville is a dump!" He asked how he could find a new job. Lehman suggested the classified ads on the community calendar at KMUD, and a number of community calendars on-line. Miclette suggested job listings through Social Services back by the library, with computer listings for the whole county. But Spyrock implied that the kind of job he was looking for would not be included there. He said his parents have a legitimate machine shop business in Laytonville, but he can't work with them. Paula suggested meeting people through donating time to do service with community organizations.
Comfy said, "Right now there is a huge economic slump, there are very few jobs in the United States for young people to do besides fast-food work, and most young people are over that scenario, we're looking for something better." He said he came to the area to help save Richardson Grove, he didn't want to see the bio-region destroyed in this area that he loved. He was fortunate to be given opportunities to develop his carpentry skills here, and has volunteered at Mateel Community Center and KMUD. He loves being here but doesn't love the "small-minded mentality that he keeps hearing out of the Chamber: that local is the only way to go, that if we give them any money we're just contributing to their poverty," etc, that they are letting a few bad people color their view of the rest. And he defended people's right to use their 215 medicine. At this, the Chamber hosts replied clearly that smoking is not allowed in public, that smoke should not be blown in children's faces when they are getting off the school bus, and that elders should not have to detour into the street to avoid smoke from people crowding the sidewalk.
PBJ philosophized about a paradigm shift, about people acting as if they are indigenous, and, when asked to be specific, said: "We need to get in touch with our hearts."
Verbena said she wanted to echo and support what Comfy said. Then she accused the Chamber of actively trying to get rid of certain people and of supporting or participating in human rights violations. She said she doubted if any of the show hosts were "First Nation People," and yet have "crowned themselves as deciders of who can come. . ." before she was cut off.
Ed called again and commended Paul Encimer for helping out the local homeless, the Mateel for feeding people, and "the lady" that tried to bring in the porta-potty to help people, then he said, "as far as I know the Chamber only criticizes these people for doing this." The hosts defended themselves, stating their personal experiences mostly dealing with trash and feces, and then they asked if the caller had any positive solutions. He suggested a public bathroom would be positive, and a hostel would be a solution.
Lehman suggested, "If someone wants to take this on, [they have to] do what the schools, the hospital and other community organizations do, raise money, get property, get proper permits, install the proper septic systems, and build it. It's not something the Chamber is looking at taking on right now, but maybe another group."
A Garberville business owner for 13 years, a 25-year resident, said "It is becoming miserable running a business in Garberville. I'm not saying that everyone is a bad person, there are a lot of nice people traveling through, but the problem is just there are too many of them. Some of them are international travelers, they seem to be polite and clean and cool. Some of them are actually mentally ill, which is really sad, thanks to Reagan. And some of them are just really mean."
She has experienced a lot of what the Chamber members have, "I've cleaned up tons of human feces in back and in front of my business, I've taken a lot of abuse, I've called the Sheriff like a billion times. This year has topped it. Today. . .it was a nightmare just walking to the bank.
No. 1) We've got to have some toilets, regardless of what anyone thinks, because you can't stop the people coming, and instead of basically going to the bathroom around our businesses, or in the woods, and not washing their hands, eventually we're going to have some third-world diseases running around town, which actually really worries me more than anything."
She also commented about hiring practices changing here since 25 years ago, people with so much product hiring helpers from all over the world now, instead of friends and family. She was concerned that local people who are now seniors might need employment.
She asked about the "tiny pamphlet" she'd seen that the Chamber put out, on The Dos and Don'ts of How to Talk to People. She would come by the office and get materials. She continued, "I'm at the point that if I could afford to, I'd close my business and leave."
She also said, "There's so many homeless because of the economic situation, they can't all be housed. And, you can't expect a tiny, tiny town to solve all the problems. . . That's kind of ridiculous, Verbena."
Debra called from Eugene, Oregon. "I'm looking at all kinds of different options. Everybody is struggling with the same thing. They have a lot of people, and people are trying to do business. They have some solutions: they have campgrounds, they have places where people can park at night from a certain time to a certain time, and they're doing little micro-houses.
I think for Humboldt County we need multiple campgrounds, because we struggle with, there's nowhere to go. It's either private property, or the front doors of businesses. It's just a vicious cycle.
And about the bathroom, you know I gifted that to you two years ago. I wanted to give it to our community, and I know a group has been working really hard on that and they haven't gotten far with it. I think we can get together as a community and figure out that we have to have places for people to go to the restroom, and places where people can sleep safely, and get off the streets. And we don't have that in Southern Humboldt. And that's one solution I'm really looking at seriously. And I'm hoping that we can as a community come together and do that." Lehman asked her to bring back her information and share it with the Chamber, and Paula said the Chamber will give out Debra's contact information for people who want to work with her on this.
A woodworker with a storefront in Southern California, agreed with previous callers: bathrooms need to be provided, it's happening everywhere, and we need to work together.
John Casali said "It's not a homeless issue, it's a bad behavior issue. . . If you continue to appease it, you will continue to have it. . ." And he listed the facts. Paula thanked Casali for his large contribution of clean-up efforts.
Suzelle, a member of the Garberville-Redway Public Restroom Working Group, a non-profit unincorporated association registered in CA, is hoping to help raise money for the first real functional 24-hour public restroom in Garberville and/or Redway, once the appropriate locations are agreed on. She hopes that these pro-restroom callers will be able to contribute.
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