[Hpn] Camp Paradise

Marita Brinkmann brinkmn@zedat.fu-berlin.de
Thu, 28 Jun 2001 12:45:31 +0200

Dear members of the press, fellow community members, & elected

I live in Felton, & am moving to Aptos upon my return from Berlin next

I am directing this email to the attention of the press & community,
first, & our elected officials, second, because it would seem, sadly,
that our local government, as a group, & its most influential members,
as individuals, lack the will, & perhaps, to be honest, the compassion
when it comes right down to it, to create lasting solutions to the
"homeless situation" in our community.  I seek not to blame any one
person for this, but rather to simply observe what is.  This is both a
local & a national disgrace, & a thorny challenge at that.

And, perhaps it is naive & unrealistic given our present inability to
govern ourselves in such a way that places people & communities before
corporations & institutions, to expect our local political leaders to
act compassionately & move swiftly to remedy our homeless problem in
Santa Cruz County.  They are, however, responsible for their actions, or
lack thereof, & the years are passing, people are dying, & I see
virtually nothing significant being done by our local government, other
than the obligatory wringing of hands & paying lip service to the

And it is no longer acceptable, for many of us in the Santa Cruz
I have, fortunately, received Becky Johnson's emails here in Berlin
concerning Camp Paradise, & I feel very grateful for press coverage
regarding the plight of the human beings involved.  I believe it is only
through citizen & press action, rather than "enlightened" political
leadership, that this issue will finally be taken up & resolved, to our
mutual benefit.  

Will it now finally come to pass that we, as a community, find our
collective heart & put an end to the abuse routinely handed out to some
of the most downtrodden members of American society?  How long have we,
as a group, hoped that this challenge would simply go away; so we
wouldn't have to address it, to face it squarely?  Does that ever work,
either in the community or in our own lives?   Do we actually believe
that creative solutions to this problem are beyond us?

How many thousands of SC residents are sympathetic to the plight of the
homeless, & are silent on the issue?  I believe there are many, & I was
one of them for years.

Please do not force this group to leave their present site.

Let us collaborate with these inspiring community members who, by almost
every account are raising themselves by their bootstraps in the face of
formidable challenges(have you or I ever been homeless & faced this kind
of spirit-draining, life threatening situation?  How well would we do in
such a case?), & create together some lasting solutions to this, one of
America's most telling & embarrassing realities.

The people at Camp Paradise are actively sloughing off their addictions,
cleaning up our messes, helping others, & appealing to us for support. 
And even if they weren't, are we not willing to help those others who
have less ability, at present, to help themselves?  

In this country we, both historically & today, offer huge relief through
taxes, subsidies, law, counseling, & countless other advantages, to
those that need it the least, & offer little to those most in need.

If we can't help this group, & all who are "on their knees", who are we
as human beings?

We have an opportunity here.  Is it not time for us to show our true

The way we've behaved to the homeless heretofore, as has most of our
society, is "like kicking someone when they are down".  This
demoralized, depressed, addicted, sometimes mentally impaired, sometimes
physically ailing, & generally scorned folk has, as a rule, received
the least amount of support possible, while we in the middle & upper
socio-economic classes receive the most, financially & in virtually
every other respect.  Is this not backwards?

To what extent are constructive services really available to our
homeless population, 
here & elsewhere, in relation to the number of those in need?  Honestly?

I, personally, have lost the ability to ignore the homeless in our
community, & am glad about it.  I wince every time I walk down Pacific
Avenue, & drive by the Harvey West area, & I consider it an
improvement.  My
humanity is beginning to seep through.  These people are not the
"enemy", however much they may frighten & disturb us.  They are some of
the lost ones in our society, & they could easily be us, our friends,
family, colleagues, & neighbors, & in fact that is just who they are. 
Someone's friends, family, colleagues, & neighbors.

Shall we go on despising them, judging them, avoiding them, arresting
them, prosecuting them, jailing them, & otherwise closing our eyes to
the reality that is them?

Shall we not now awaken from our own denial?  This is just one more
thing, out of many, that we have in common with the homeless.  Denial. 
Perhaps the homeless are a blessing, & not the curse some of us
believe.  Perhaps they give us the opportunity to show, through our
actions, who we really are?  You & I.  We have an opportunity to show up
here.  How do we feel about how we've shown up to date, with regard to
the homeless?  As individuals & as a group?  I, for one, don't admire
the way I've behaved.  

Let's do something now!!!!!!!!!

And to Larry Templeton & the residents of Camp Paradise,  Bravo!  I
admire what you are doing in the face of very, very challenging
circumstances.   Don't think that you are completely ignored, despite
our communitys' collective behavior, to date.  There are a growing
number of us who not only care about you, but are ready to act.  We need
you to tell us how we can help you empower yourselves.  Please let me
know, personally, how I can help.  Among other things, I am available,
free of charge, to help people who wish to rid themselves of addictions,
& I can help with mediation & conflict resolution, which I presently do
in the court system in SC.  I can help with a little money, as well.

Also, I was not implying, above, that all homeless people are
demoralized, depressed, addicted, etc.  I know that is not the case &,
indeed, these are problems faced by most of us in America, at one time
another, along with the rest of the world's peoples.


David Whizin
831 457 7252

Becky Johnson wrote:
>                  Update from Friends of Camp Paradise
>                         Tuesday, June 26, 2001
> Santa Cruz, Ca. -- Camp Paradise was visited by a contingent of the
> City of Santa Cruz including Assistant City Manager Martine Bernal,
> Interim City Planning Director, Gene Arner, and several members of the
> Planning Dept. They were escorted by the homeless resource officer,
> Eric Seilley.
> The City Council is expected to discuss the future of Camp Paradise,
> now home to 45 people including four children, a nine-month pregnant
> woman, and a disabled woman in a wheelchair. However, the item has not
> been posted on the agenda 72 hours prior to the meeting, as required
> by the Brown Act.
> The camp has grown from 23 to 45 because the ISSP program (the
> City’s only emergency shelter program for homeless people) has
> sent 20 people who they had to turn away for lack of space. Also, the
> first campers from remote areas of the Pogonip have pulled up their
> camps and joined those at Camp Paradise.
> Camp Paradise, an alcohol and drug-free campground, set up and run by
> homeless people, has removed an estimated 24 tons of trash from the
> San Lorenzo Riverbank in the past 9 months in an area where homeless
> people have traditionally camped for decades. They have been given
> written notices to vacate by July 1, 2001.
>                                 SUPPORT
>                            FOR CAMP PARADISE
> If you can’t come down personally to show support, please send a
>     message to the Santa Cruz City Council that they preserve Camp
>  Paradise until they are able to find a location to move these people
>   to. These people are trying hard, have shown themselves to be good
>   stewards of the land and good neighbors, and deserve our thanks and
>                              our support.
>         Santa Cruz City Council: 24 hr. voicemail (831)420-5020
>                 e-mail citycouncil@ci.santa-cruz.ca.us
>                      cc: campparadise@hotmail.com
>                       or by fax at (831) 420-5011
>                       Attn: Mayor Tim Fitzmaurice
>           Also: Club Cruz 6/26 and 6/28 at 7PM on Channel 27
>     Rabbi Chayim Levin interviews Larry Templeton of Camp Paradise
>   Footage of the Camp and its residents on leafy riverbank included.
>   As always, please come and visit the camp at the end of Felker St.
>               Near Denny’s Restaurant on Ocean St.