The Village(s) Project(s)…..Sacramento’s War of the Infills..

  The Village(s) Project(s)…..Sacramento’s War of the Infills..

The Sacramento Valley is just now finally showing signs of the recovery from the overinflated mortgage bubble that caused the country to go into economic upheaval. One sign of this are the new housing projects breaking ground I various parts of the city. Two of these  Mc Kinley Village touted as “low income” housing and Curtis Park Villages share a surname but both have serious flaws.

One can be addressed before it is too late to create an appealing, sustaining, good neighbor, and perhaps model program geared towards the future, while the other, unfortunately seems to be being built with very shaky foundations that can only spell disaster.

  McKinley Village, touted as low income housing, are breaking ground behind C street along the levees which line the American River, just past the Sacramento State University Parkway along the 30’s and early 40’s in terms of city street references. At starting prices of $300,000 and going up to $530,000, low income does not come to mind.

  The average home in the McKinley Park East Sacramento area where this development is located  are sell for around the median price of  $563,000. In relation to this neighborhood figure a low income moniker is applicable but with a citywide median housing price of $263,000 the low end is not adequately represented within this low income development.

   Neighbors have staged protests and are dead set against the idea of such a low income project in their midst, although the project is fairly isolated with the freeway and thoroughfares creating a distinct hard to reach pocket.  The main thoroughfare in and out would actually be located on the midtown side of the freeway on 28 th Street leading up to the skatepark , old land fill sites, and Sutter’s landing river access. These are located just beyond the levees.

The protests have come in the form of town hall meetings, bake sales, yard sign postings and disgruntled confrontations. Fresh in the minds of the residents are the images of transients loaded down with purloined shopping carts full of their belongings migrating to the Mecca just past Alhambra known as East Sacramento. Home to deserted governors mansions, the exterior to the popular late seventies sitcom Eight is Enough and the beautiful Olmstead designed Park bearing the former president’s name.   

Sacramento’s Tent City


Tent City Resident


City Ordinance , citation of the Camping Ban.


 Years ago a tent city was located where the development is breaking ground. The tent city garnered media attention as both an example of the mortgage crisis collapse and foreclosures resulting in a trickle down effect on housing. This pushed many into homelessness. The The Oprah Winfrey Show sent their roving reporter Lisa  Ling to cover the Tent City for the show. Embarrassed by the attention, not seeing the value and organization, thought, and empowerment the Tent City called Safeground  had been nationally lauded for the city and Sheriff’s deputies started bulldozing the site. They moved locations several times but each time they were bulldozed once again.


Candidate Kevin Johnson, Govenor Arnold Swarzenegger, at The former site of the Tent City

 Most of the tent city residents were filtered into the shelter system here in Sacramento, or moved along with the remnants of the tent city. Many found places along the river and remain homeless to this day. The residents and the issue became the darling of the election that year. From the hope presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on, to our own Mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson, who despite being a Republican rode Obama’s coat tails that electionand his platform each pandered to the new classes of economically insecure and the new homeless voter. 


Regeistering Homeless voters at a Volunteers of America Homeless Voters Event

 Nowhere was this more evident than at an afternoon for The Get Out The Homeless Vote that was sponsored by Volunteers of America at their Bannon Street Shelter. The afternoon consisted of a BBQ lunch, homeless voter registration and speeches by local candidates. It was here Mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson lauded was the organizers of the tent city with promises to rescind the camping ban, a Homeless Council headed by Sister Libby, 

  a local Catholic Nun dedicated to serving the areas homeless population, and even promised to make a low income housing project where the homeless camp had been. 


The entrance to Quinn Cottages

 Whether or not Mc Kinley Village is his answer to this promise little has been done since his first and now into his second term on the homeless issue. One has yet to see the projects that political legends The Serna’s implemented like Quinn Cottages and Serna Village. One  sees private development with a skew towards low income, already needed by federal law in such building projects. one doubts whether any resident of Safeground will be rushing to qualify for their mortgage on a new unit in Mc Kinley Village.

  After the media went away and the campaigns were over nothing happened with the exception of Safeground. They became a non profit geared towards homeless issues here in Sacramento County. One can see that their empowerment in the tent city project whether put forth by he media as a campaign issue, pandered to by politicians, or just pooh poohed away by theological establishement, was truly a force that could become the juggernaut for the homeless here in the Valley.  

I am writing this blog to replace the blog I accidentally deleted a couple of days ago. This morning is garbage day, I went out with my plastic bin, I allow myself one plastic bin of garbage 2 1/2 ft by ft and a half 14″ high per week. I feel that is about all the refuse one should generate that cannot be recycled, composted, or otherwise used. It’s a very generous amount and much in it such as cans from food items and papers that have not been recycled out. I save the others for a neighbor who collects bottles and cans. Anyways I caught a woman checking herself out in the reflection of a car in the back parking area of the alley where the dumpster is. I assumed she was on the streets and she asked me if I needed any help with the dumpster lid. I replied no 

I then asked her if she had lived in the tent city, again her reply was no. She was not a familiar face for me here in Sacramento and I have knowledge on most of the homeless who are in my neighborhood. She looked like a new person. I asked her if she had heard of Safeground? She wriggled her nose a bit and emphatically said no after asking her if she was on the streets to which she replied yes,  I explained to her that Safeground was founded by the homeless that ran the tent city and that they were in touch with needs of the homeless in a way that a bureaucrat or agency was not. She smiled and went on her way. 

To those just arriving in Sacramento the message that Safeground is an agency that was founded by and run by empowered homeless who garnered national attention for their organizational skills, effectively addressing the needs of their population, making sure everyone in that camp had a clear agreement as to what they were about, kids went to school who lived in Safeground, refuse was non exixtant, sanitation and cleanliness were major priorities and Safeground effectively managed all of theses things and more before they were bulldozed out  is not getting to their potential clients. For these clients trusting anyone is a huge issue, so when agencies want to help them or offer them programs they are often looked on with suspicion. Especially with the advent of for profit ventures that we now see in the social services communities in Sacramento. Is this the legacy the tent city and that election is to leave?


looks like another graduation at Women’s Empowerment!

 Just before this camp sprang up I had priveledge while working at a homeless shelter cooking to see many of these residents graduate from a program called Women’s Empowerment. I was there to cheer on graduates of a program I had been in called Open Arms, not to mention women who I cooked for at another program I worked for. I even today recognize many of these women that I saw at this graduation. My friend and I were wishing for a men’s empowerment which I see today is offered.

The environment on which Mc Kinley  Villages is to be built is not safe ground, so to speak. It is located along one of the levees on the American River Parkway. In the event of a levee break or flood the river would go the way it has always gone in past despite being diverted by the army core of engineers. This could cut off the only viable way out of the development on 28 th street. 

In the event of an earthquake, or even a strong quake in the Bay Area, the soil that this development is built on is river silt, this type of soil amplifies earthquake waves more than any type and is generally where most areas of damage are located. Adjacent to the site is landfill sites that are still venting methane gas and also prone to settling, providing the other damage prone geological condition that one sees damage during a major quake. This coupled with the venting methane could easily provide fire rich conditions that could burn the development or engulf areas around it in flame.

Quick rains and El Niño conditions often bring brush along these landfill areas that quickly burn in the Sacramento heat, being surrounded on three sides by this type of land with the propensity for such fires set by transients in camps along the river which one sees yearly, the development would be perpetually at risk for wildfires. This brush is seen along the railroad tracks, built on the levees and along the freeway which is the border on one side. Across the freeway are vast expanses of such landfill that with a delta breeze could bring fire to the development with burning embers blowing across the freeway.

  The flood plains on the opposite side of the river along discovery parkway add fuel in such years as well. Since the development is below the actual river level in the event of a widespread levee breech like seen in New Orleans and predicted for the Sacramento region at some point this development could easily flood. If the Folsom dam was to fail this would be the first major flood plain before the Natomas region which has always been designed to hold the major waters from such a floods.

With only one major way out on C Street, many could be bottle necked up and caught by either fire or flood before safely exiting the area. Or not even able to exit via this way I the event of fire, flood or earthquake. One only need to to look at The Loma Prieta 1989 earthquake to see where damage was concentrated. 

The quake whose epicenter was miles away from Santa Cruz caused widespread damage and death along the San Lorenzo Riverbed. Not much of a river then but the Pacific Garden Mall along its silty soils suffered complete devastation. Over 100 miles north in San Francisco the Marina district built on landfill suffered liquefaction and fires, although the nearly 2 hours away from the epicenter by car. Across the bay built along silty river soil and tidal flats the Cypress Structure collapse killed and flattened commuters. These sites were hours away from the moderate quakes epicenter. 

  With a major quake such as one seen in 1906 striking San Francisco or the East Bay which experts say we were overdue for, and the developments proximity and building in all of these damage prone conditions not even as far away as San Francisco was to the epicenter of the Loma Prieta quake, this development   and parts of downtown Sacramento could catastrophic damages. Damages were seen here after the 1906 quake in areas with similar soils.


Trestle Fire Sacramento


Many of us remember eight years ago, when a small fire set by transients caught the train trestle that just borders this housing project on fire.  The small trestle made of wooden pickings soaked in creosote started in the mid afternoon, filling the sky with toxic black smoke.  The creosote provided fire with so much fuel that it burned deep into the night with firefighters having a hell of time battling both toxic smoke and a fire that would not quit.

Such another fire on the rebuilt trestle could choke this development with fire  

Tretle Fire 24 hrs +

 fighters, it would be difficult  to stage such an area to fight a fire  like this one. If this were to happen again and the wind were to shift the entire development could engulf the development with this toxic smoke for hours making evacuation problematic and potentially deadly. Any  form of  disaster requiring a quick and orderly move out of the area would prove difficult.

Another interesting opportunity has to come to light with the recent developments in drone technology. The application of a new technology called lidar to the smal, area would be advantageous before building begins rather than after. Lidar is a type of technology that combines radar, infrared and other technologies to literally see what is underage in the layers of silt or earth. It’s application is especially helpful to archaeologists in the field on where cities or buildings long buried are located. 


Lidar Technology duscovery of a Mayan City

 This area was a major part of the large migration during the mid nineteenth century gold rush. One only need to envision the last point on the river where deeper water ships could reach. It was here. Many people, goods, supplies, and most everything needed for the gold rush were off loaded here after being transferred at pints such as San Francisco or the East Bay.

One can imagine this terminus hustling with folks loading all of this equipment onto wagons, rails, and other modes of transportation to get to the foothills. Crates of items rushing up to get to the hills. People themselves deciding which mode of transportation would take them to a claims or family member already there. Having to stay in this area  or nearby was probably not unheardof, at least for a night or two until further transport was secured and ready. The area must yield rich archaeological potential of this migration. 


Sacramento 1850, Sutter’s Fort at the Rear Right.

 Prior to this many of the tribes of indigenous peoples used this site for meeting and trading as well. Northern California was rich with many native tribes relying on these rivers and rich soil for their subsistence and using the conflux of them as trading areas.The application of Lidar now, while the area is undeveloped would be advantageous prior to its development. While not much may be revealed if there were finds they could be more easily excavated after being evaluated by archaeologists for their potential value in the archaeological record of the area.

One only need to look at the original planning of the city to see why things were located where they are now. Names like Lavendar Heights and Poverty Heights show where the floods did not hit. Garbage dumps and landfills were located away from population centers for a reason. The undeveloped areas near them also undeveloped for a reason. These are Mc Kinley Village’s potentially fatal flaw on so many fronts. 


Curtis Park Villages Advertisement Photo

 Moving south down The Cap City Freeway to highway 99, after exiting off Sutterville Rd. one is near the Curtis Park Villages Development. This development is a multi developer site with a wide range in housing options. The Blackpine Developer has test marketed and charmingly named their three phases as follows, The Estates, The Cottages, and The Brownstones  . One can see them starting to spring up towards the rear of the infill parcel located across the railroad tracks from Sacramento City College.


Pedestrian Bridge connecting Sac City College and Light Rail Station to Curtis Park Villages.

 There is a pedestrian bridge under construction which will connect the development to both Sac City College and City College Light Rail Station. One of the developers strategies to make public transportation readily accessible to residents. 

The other “draw” is a Safeway Store and a 16 pump fueling station ( gas station). What a strange idea. With the obvious toll that our dependence upon fossil fuels have cost us, environmentally, loss of human lives in Persian Gulf Conflicts, and the huge amounts of tax payer funds that have gone towards our unfettered access and price control of such fuels, as well as the knowledge these are finite resources that cause more damage than good, we ought to be demanding a different more forward thinking use of these retail areas.


William Land Park

 One need only look across the tracks at The City College and across Freeport to William Land Park for some major re-thinks in what a planned urban community could look like and accomplish. By establishing a partnership with Sac City College and Los Rios Community College District an amazing forward thinking experiment in community, sustainability, and neighborhood cooperation could have the potential to set the example for what other communities could become.


Sacarmento City College’s 5 story Parking Structure, the small sliver of green on the right upper area is the slated housing area.

 The five story parking structure at Sac City College is often vacant on weekends and after 4 PM on any given weekday. With the site already built and just sitting vacant when most of the Curtis Park Village residents are returning home from work a huge opportunity exists. If the developer, or resident could get tax incentives for a one car household, meaning only one car allowed per household in the participating households, a special off hours parking permit could be sold for a portion of these incentives by the College filling the garage that sits empty and providing extra revenue for the college district. Discount transit passes in lieu of a parking permit could be offered to those who only own one car. The pedestrian bridge being constructed is reps away from both of them.

This relationship between the college and the development could be further developed into a multi-dimensional mutually beneficial partnership. The development is slated to have apartment style units as well as single family homes. Many of these apartment style units are slated for seniors. Why not have one of the buildings be dedicated to students. This would not be a dormitory style housing  so the liability and staffing as well as food service would not come into play. Rather the district could purchase the building as an investment to their long term portfolio, an investment in local land and real estate would give the district much needed local investments in the community. 

With the building the district could through their property management and real estate education programs administer it in the form of internships for students. Rentals to students attending the school at discount market rates could be administered through state and federal financial aid programs. For example a student receiving the $6,600 financial aid package of pell  grants, would have a portion of these funds applied to the already discounted rental cost for subsidized rent. By eliminating the need for transportation to and from school congestion in the area would be lessened.

In lieu of this and the already discounted rent students who lived in the development could and would be expected to participate in joint projects.  A small satellite study center could be opened in the complex that would provide  off hours access to study rooms and function as a satellite learning resource center. Adjacent to the center could be a community garden in the style of the Edible Schoolyard that many elementary schools across the state are implementing with much success. 

The gardens and center could be staffed by students living in the apartments for just a few hours a week for each of them. Produce and flowers grown in the garden could be sold at a weekly farm table at the satellite center for a reduced rate to residents of the development. Computers at the satellite center could also be accessed by residents when not used by students. Meeting rooms and a center room could be used by residents when not utilized by students for study purposes for community meetings, gatherings or even community  celebrations.

This is the development side of the equation. The college side of the equation offers even more potential. With the recent remodeling of the gymnasium facilities and students supervising for internships within open class hours for fitness courses the feel at the gym is like that of a fitness club. Why not expand the hours and sell discount passes to residents of the development as gym memberships. 

The nearest fitness centers such as 24 hour fitness, or California family Fitness are miles away and by having the same type of club just across the bridge at a discount rate manned by students in the field of study the benefits to both student and resident would be tremendous. While the programs would not be a huge money maker they would pay for themselves for the students that currently get paid a small stipend for already manning the gyms.

By setting up a resident booster club for the performing arts and sports programs at the college, where the residents receive promotional items such as tee shirts, or hats, as well as reserved seating to sporting events and or performances for a fee both the resident and the college win. Seats are filled with neighbors encouraging the students and teams. 

Such promotional materials could be purchased for a small cost and any other revenue could be used for uniforms, transportation costs, or sets, obtaining the rights to scripts, music and costumes or instruments. These costs can send programs like these out of reach of some student participants or offset the college districts investment I the,. The programs could also be marketed to family and friends of the participants. Once a season or during the run of a performance a special tail,gate party or backstage event could give further incentive and provide extra revenue for the food service contracts in the form of  caterings. 

By publicizing the services offered to residents specifically at the discount rates the services are currently offered at . The cosmetology schools and dental hygiene schools would also benefit tremendously. For seniors one or two of the rooms I the community satllite center could be utilized for a day or two during the week for such services bringing the low cost services such as manicures, and pedicures, hair styling and coloring to the complex itself. 

Students would ultimately benefit with extra clients and hours available to them that would not normally be a part of the City College Community.

The Devastating Path of ISIS and  its wake of Destroyed UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Devastating Path of ISIS and  its wake of Destroyed UNESCO World Heritage Sites

As the Unparalleled spread of ISIS continues, more needless wholesale bulldozing and the destruction of valuable cultural sites are being seen. As ISIS push towards in  Jordan, officials even worry for the safety of such major landmarks such as Petra. After Nimrud, the ancient Assyrian  city, home to the first monotheistic religion culture, Zoarastrianism, long before the Hebrews established their covenant with Yahweh, was bull dozed the world finally began to take note. Beautiful sphinxes with human faces have been chiseled off, after over a thousand years of continual stewardship by Muslim nations, have been destroyed.

As the juggernaut advance of ISIS seems at times unstoppable, the sites being damaged or slated for damage seem to be growing exponentially. Sites thought once in safe and in secure areas, popular, and accessible to the International tourist industry are now virtual ghost ruins, excavations stopped, artifacts, monuments, sculpture being bulldozed, sledghammered and lying in ruins. Even such ares as Jordan, and Egypt, occasionally troubled with random violent incidents against the tourist trade, are now off limits to most tour companies and are being re-alerted by embassies and nations throughout the world. The sustainable, viable , and lucrative tourism dollar, now withering on the vine. Is this a way ISIS seeks to control both the  economy, and local populations, by maintaining a strict control over both funds and access to other citizens of the world by a populace now becoming isolated to the flow of dollars, and to other views,  while dependent on Muslim extremist charitable organizations like the Muslim brotherhood for basic resources such as food, clean water, and medicine.These previously could be effectively provided for with more income generated by tourist dollars. 
In the minds of the ISIS, this is an extension of their conservativism views given to them directly by the Q’uran. By taking the laws to the letter interpretation, and their belief in an arrogant style of  righteousness that enables them to destroy sites, artifacts, and art  that was there before the advent of not only their extreme conservative construct of Islam, but even before the prophet Muhammed received the word of Allah in the form of the Q’uran without regard or thought to the Muslims that cared to preserve them, they show selves as poor stewards culturally. And even poorer historians of their own roots and place in society.


Afghanistan’s Buddhas of , UNESCO site , destroyed .

The writing on the wall should have been made clear to us all when the Taliban committed the  Destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in the year 2000. What seems to be the issue and why is the idea of tolerance for artistic, cultural, or historical depictions of civilizations, even those who had evolved into their own,  so egregiously incongruent with their own development that the wanton destruction of such sites is necessary and in fact now a priority of ISIS. 

Recently just in the past few months, we hear and see images of the Destruction of the Assyrian city of Nimrud, one of the oldest ruins of an organized city in Mesopotamia, being bulldozed by ISIS. Reliefs are being chiseled so that the faces are removed from the cultural record. These are  the very ancestors of the same bedouins of the region that founded Islam. Is it their own ancestor’s images they fear, or is it the Sh’ iiah sect that is in control the area that they do this against?  Is The United Nations and its diligent care and preservation of Unesco world heritage sites the targets they work to destroy?  Or is it any form of economic revenue opportunity for secular based revenues?  What do they seek to control? Why do they seek to destroy  the rich legacy the Levantine and Fertile Crescent civilizations have left for us to learn from..


ISIS follwer , chainsaws off the Sphinx’s face.

 Is it possible this goes beyond the Muslim Q’uranic code of the image of both Gods and man not being acceptable in the worship of Islam,  often seen as idol worship,  but more the idea of the United Nations and its presence and control of such sites in the area. While  such a powerful force in the region in the form of Unesco and its commitment to preservation, conservation, and even restoration, provides much needed vehicles for study, maintenance, and the resources to do so, not to mention local jobs. Does just the name, United Nations, and their failed policies, which have brought coalition forces and major conflicts in the areas, yet not able to keep other member nations in check with security council resolutions in regards to Israel remind them of their being on the losing end of the organizations continued failed policies in regard to Israeli sovereignty and incursions into U.N. sanctioned borders and cease fire areas?  Does the continued snubbing of Palestine as a Member state, while allowing Israel seemingly a carte Blanche veto, without the apparent threat or use of force like demonstrated in , Desert Storm, or Desert Shield, her not even respecting the resolutions that created Israel, but to violate scores more resolutions condemning them and their actions in regards to the former country of Palestine, their treatment of refugees, form some of the basis of this backlash and destruction of valuable sites to cultures directly linked to their own?

Could this be the true reason for the destruction, one must remember that for over a thousand: years Islam has for the most part been a fine steward of ancient ruins, artifacts, and civilizations. One only need to look to ancient Egypt  and how the generations of Islamic rulers from Ottoman Sultanates, forward thinking project related communist backed Presidents such as Nassar, U.S. funded Presidents Sadat and Mubarak, while oppressive, dictatorial and supportive to the Israeli State,  have successfully  stewarded, embraced , and claimed the Pharaonic  Egypt for the Muslims of modern Egypt as a source of pride, vast tourism revenue resulting in economic security, scientific study opportunities,  without  interference or infraction to Q’uranic law or conservative sects such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which actually was founded in Egypt during the 19th Century. 

The Islamic presence evident in these governments has, rather than exploited such sites like the French and British occupiers and imperialists, which sought do damage, dissemble, export, pillage , and mutilate these sites, has truly stewarded them developing them, while protecting them, into a sustainable, incredible economic boom for Egypt’s often fragile economy.


Zawi Hawass, Director of Egyptian Antiquity

The Islamic governments control of such areas and the cooperation extended to the United Nations Unesco World Heritage Organization’s designations as member sites has enriched both the sites general sustainability, tourism accessibility, and promotions as well as brought in technologies, researchers, and resources unavailable to the Egyptians if working on their own. Not to mention replaced such stodgy representations of stereotypical archaeologists such as Howard Carter and armchair digger Lord Carnarvon with dynamic, committed, media savvy, and national role models like Zahi Hawass. Mr. Hawass, in his long standing former role as Director of Egytian antiquities,  has worked for and with CNN, and The National Geographic Society, bringing attention to his supervision of multiple large scale projects in Egypt.

 He has published tens of best sellers on Egyptian Antiquity, and as official host to foreign archaeologists, research projects, and media projects as become Egypt’s face of antiquity. This provides the reminder that Egypt is indeed the steward to their own ancient culture without being exclusionary or closed to tourism or international joint research projects. It shows to the young of Egypt and other middle Eastern, North African nations a great role model in a man educated, dedicated , and media savvy in the role off host rather than collaborator with the West. 


ISIS woker removes cross from Church

Will ISIS, as its march through the Islamic world continue to destroy such sites or will they reach a point or benchmark where the destruction of cultural, spiritual, and vast economic potential for generations of Muslims to come. With some of these areas relying virtually solely on tourism what will bring income into such an area if such things are destroyed. Imagine the Nile River Valley without the pyramids, the Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings, or any hieroglyphics- key to the understanding and evolution of all written language including Arabic, the only language sanctioned by Allah for the Q’uran to be written in. The latest being the wanton destruction of ancient libraries including one of the seven wonders of the Ancient world, just being excavated and developed for tourists.

Underwater Statue in The Library of Alexandria Underwater Sanctuary, Unesco World Heritage Site

 After these visions and musings of our imaginations, remember ISIS is destroying the Library of Alexandria, which is an underwater park reserve and currently being excavated underwater and brought to surface or left under and restored. An interesting argument for the idea that books do not traditionally in scroll form or cunitorm have pictures just characters mean nothing is being disproved here. Most modern science agrees this language is a common ancestor of current day Arabic.  Why destroy  such a repository  of written information not in violation of animal, or facial representations.


The Library at Hatra, Unesco World Heritage Site

 For now we are aware of three major areas of destruction, the first being the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nimrud. The process took a week or two and heavy equipment was brought in. Not only were the museums looted, the artifacts being sold on the black market for funding of ISIS, but the sites themselves were blasted, attacked by bulldozers,  reliefs, and statues faces and heads removed and destroyed. These ruins having survived thousands of year s the ravages of time, climate, wars, religion and regime changes are now struck down by the Islamic State.

The next major site being devastated is the Unesco World Heritage Site of Palmyra, which is an extn save archaeological site located in Syria, containing valuable ruins such as the archive of Mari, other libraries and valuable cultural sites relative to the early organized civilizations that settled and developed cities and cultural centers in Syria during the Mesopotamian and subsequent periods in the Levantine.

  Libya seems to be the current center of destruction for ISIS . Moving away from the typical destruction of  Shi’ia and Sufi sites, as well as pre-Islamic archaeological sites ISIS is now engaging in the destruction of Roman and Greek sites located along the coast of the southern Mediteranean in Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. Areas ripe and laden with a rich historical blending of such ancient cultural sites and often better prese fed and less stressed touristically than sites in Greece, Italy, Turkey or other close, populated tourist areas. To lose such sites in generally better condition than others would indeed be ashamed for all of humanity. 

Isis Representative, Removing an Animal Head Relief, deemed as sacreligous

 Are the predecessors to all things Arabic, all things Muslim- remember Moses and the flight from Egypt, delivered by the same God as Allah, the events depicted on the tombs of Ramses in hieroglyphics which are pictographs the language just before characters and Arabic lettering. This as evidence to their own Gods miracles and power to free his chosen from oppressors destroyed by them in his name. One would not find such a quatrain or ghazal on the Q’uran that justifies such destruction.

Cinco de  Hustle

Buenos Dios from sunny California. The hustle was Bueno as well this fine day,  I love holidays like Cinco de Mayo.  Generally speaking,they give white folks and beige folks the chance to eat “ethnic” foods and do copious amounts of tequila inspired or based libations. Whether it be tequila poppers, margaritas, tequila lime Jell-O shots, or even tequila lollipops with worm in the middle. 

Scantily clad girls and guys insombreros, serapes , and the ubiquitous vaquero cross the shoulder ammo belts containing shot glasses promenade through bars  erupting with a “riva,riva ” now and again. 

The food is purely ( or not so) the modern gringo take on Mexican. Things taquitos, jalapeño cream cheese shooters, and nachos with cheesy sauce that comes from a jar or can. As the any Latino could tell you the food we consume is “na-chos” we lay no claim to it.

Holidays like this and Saint Patrick’s Day have taken a unique American, and now worldwide ( or your closest ex-pat bar) flavor. We can all be Mexican, or Irish for a day or as close as a watered down down stereo type can come ( Don’t drink the Water!). While all in good fun, arriving at one of these parties late into the night can show the ugly Americanization of such events; nothing like girl in a pancho ducking under a limbo bar while tequila is dumped down her throat. Viva Santa Ana missing her mouth and sloshing in her hair while she yells “riva riva” a señorita if just for una noche.

Here in California, where I was born and raised in San Jose, I imagine it to be a bit better than say the Northern half of the U. S. It is here  where the other side of the spectrum is evident here as well. Pretentious multiple course regional tasting menus with vertical tequila pairings set the stage for a true Cinco de Mayo. Get your reservations early as this gastronomical foray into  Cucina de Chiapas is a cultural culinary experience not to be missed. All of this complimented by a midnight Mayan offering of Xochital and Chilis, a top a Flan made from organic free range Oaxacan Toucan Eggs drizzled with  slow simmered raw Cajeta from Alpaca  Goats Milk. Ah, the pretension of the cultured Americans embracing diversity. 

Irish cuisine might be more of a challenge but with enough green beer anything is possible. While we identify with these parts of our diverse makeup through food and libations this week, one cannot help but think on the events in Baltimore and other parts of the United States this year. Why is it that the spirit and eagerness to celebrate these types of occasions cannot be applied to our everyday interactions with the folks we tend to marginalize or judge in a group. 

Again this morning with the Department of Human Assistance for authorization on my card. I sure am thankful for the River City Food Bank helping to get me through the weekend. Three more cheers for them.  Huzzah, Hazaah, Hazzaah. Well everything went well but the crowds were in force at the building. It being the first of the month not an uncommon occurance but  at times a nuisance, I don’t want to bet grateful though. I can only imagine the experience of working there behind one of the windows and the good times one of those crazy days can bring. I applaud the patience and kindness of the county employees who get to grin and bear it in the face of so many things. They are the unsung heroes of such programs. Thank You!
These folks have morphed over the years. From the newly arrived immigrant group thought to be taking valuable jobs from the group just before it- who suddenly are allowed into the larger crowd to bully the new group. There is a certain satisfaction in the once bullied when they can bully with the group that did it to them. Almost like they have made it and they have a superiority to beat down the next. They, being so close to that pain and often are the most ready to go the furthest, be the meanest, and most cruelest to assuage their own hurt. It is as if they can transfer to another all beaten into them, yet the pain multiplies with each group. 

I grabbed my first bag of groceries in a longtime at the local Mom and Pop. I had not been what one would consider a good customer for lack of resources. When I have funding I make a conscious effort to spread it around to different stores, willing to pay sometimes higher prices when I get to know the family that works the store is getting feed directly by my spending my money there. No middleman, payroll, human resources, team member number,  partner code but names that they’ve had since birth. 
It sure was good to see them. And of course they asked about the Poppa -Ji. I had to make a second trip the next day with the little bodhisattva so they knew he was in good spirits. He was excited as well, imparting  his tidbits of dogma  and eastern wisdom. Hold on I hear music from somewhere, maybe it’s a dance break.  That’s  when everything stops for a minute or two for a dance.   

It sure was good to see them. And of course they asked about the Poppa -Ji. I had to make a second trip the next day with the little bodhisattva so they knew he was in good spirits. He was excited as well, imparting  his tidbits of dogma  and eastern wisdom. Hold on I hear music from somewhere, maybe it’s a dance break.  That’s  when everything stops for a minute or two for a dance.


 Now the bullied groups are not even immigrants, but the weaker, noticeably different, disabled, sexual minorities, people, peeped on, those not just not dressed in current cookie cutter styles,  people living off the cast offs of others. Boundaries and guaranteed rights are thrown out, all the while the bullies cry that they are the real victims. They lost that name in when they made a conscious decision to pass it on victimhood which most of the bullies refused to accept yet were mockingly labelled victims the entire time. Again by the same who embraced the term immediately once exposed. Entitlement for those who feel entitled to everything.

Things now have reached even higher levels of shame and hypocracy as these events are not only publically embraced but profited from packaged, repackaged, gamed, and allowed to continue by those demanding its end with horror. Like the Ken Starr report, then Investigation on whether President Bill Clinton lied in a deposition under oath that turned into  a disgrace for those spending tax dollars to fund and publish in excruciating detail what could be said as unnecessary private personal details unneeded for the report .this document of hundreds of pages could have been cut in half by saying he had adult  relations with a woman who was not his wife, as it has nothing to do with the deposition and issue at hand. How did Chelsea Clinton get treated? How did Monica’s family get treated by the party being big contributors after this scandal.  This resulting in an impeachment proceeding vote, lying in a deposition?Is there a President who has not lied in front of the National media, or had an extra marital affair? 

 In the case of some a way out available for years, is denied to continue the shaming and profit. These people are not strangers to each other like in past. They are families and this is when cultures and civilizations fall. 

So when does it stop if the victims are controlled economically to remain in the shackles while the bullies continue to do the same thing over and over again. The end is either when one or the other is incarcerated or dead. Unless the chains are unlocked or the bully shot by a small David carrying a slingshot.

If the bully wins it goes to the next one in line just like it did before the last victim was brought forth. What has changed? The victim absorbs the centuries of abuse heaped on each group without the stain of bullying the next group. And then the bullies children take guns to school and play like their parents and the tv shows do, hearing that it is only a game. 

So here I am trying to hustle up the rent, although just as much has been already paid for these peoples debts they refuse to settle after using passwords and user IDs they knew were not given to them and not theirs.! After being confronted  about the bills most pretended it never happened except one tenant who offered to pay after approaching me telling me he had  been on the network. Is this my landlords problem, legally ? The court decides. If the manager gave the password out and advertised free wifi it is his problem. Should  he a kind man, be out this money from his family trust after his tenants or manager destroys other tenants by invading their privacy and then showing neighbors and streaming it to social media sights, claiming she was paid by a relative. While in the employ of the landlord and skimming cash off the monthly rent which was overcharged and only noticed when a check was written. 

One has to ask the question after repeated intrusions, privacy violations, evidence of hidden settings on the computer changed either with access to the device by keys to the apartment, or by remote access through another device and  streamed to outside the window, and a cell phone number programmed to receive the stream at least during the day when she was out showing people the stream handing out passwords to a site saying it was disgusting what they were doing. This to the neighbors who then had access to a feed that I had not consented to or knew about. Now that was someone’s hustle. 

I saw a disturbing sign of the times at the Welfare office on a door of the bathroom stall. It read ” kill a white cop today” I could not believe my eyes especially this in the welfare office where the law enforcement stationed there is fairly chill. Is this what things are coming to? When I mentioned earlier to someone they shushed me and told me not to talk about it! 

How can situations like this be resolved without some kind of a dialogue on a National level about what seems to be either an increase on ethnically spurred crimes and shootings of African Americans and the growing problem of school shootings which seem common place after 10 years when one or two shocked our nation. When will we tackle these problems that tear us apart. After we begin to remember that People of Color are so scapegoated, targeted, feared, therefore envied. We have Viagra now this should not be an issue anymore. 

Friday April 17

well this week has flown by all around me and I’ve been a lazy git around it I am now determined to get as much done as I can this weekend and today. I have so much that needs to be done and souch to do so we will start with the room and laundry then head to the food bank. Friday’s are good days Togo as they clear out for the weekends . I am hoping for a nice pot of beans with some protein to go with it. 

After the food bank the grocery store to fill in the holes ie. Butter or whatever is not in abundance at the food bank that goes with the food. The fun part is always creating the meals around the ingredients. This is where some of the best recipes and dishes originate. Ok so for now I will start on the cleaning and then let you in on the cooking stuff later. 

The Hustle

The Hustle

Woke up to another broke day, what did I think that overnight my fortunes would change? Would a sudden glitch in a computer system or a friendly hacker log into the bank and deposit a sum u heard of in my world. I am on th bus or as I sometimes call it my 1.15 million dollar stretch limo. and someone keeps blurting out inadvertent words  In yells. It must be Tourette’s I think. Whatever it maybe it certainly gives the ride some sharp points with which to draw notation to. Gotta go I am up next on my stop. More later.
Now I find myself on the train considering  the hustle. What is the hustle? The hustlers that wake and say today I gotta get some cash so the hustle begins. This is the hustle. My thoughts were with the GA office this morning and getting on that hustle but no such luck. Tomorrow. 

The GA office is daunting. So crowded and loud.ihavenot been there in a few years but pass by it daily and get to enjoy all of the atmosphere as I wait for the train there. Today it is all about used books. I am heading to school to cash in some used books. I am guessing they will take a few. I am thinking 2 or 3 of the four I have. Here’s to a successful haul. This should net about 15 or 20 dollars. 

And the verdict, one book at seventeen dollars. I was surprised I thought they were going to take another one of the tiles I had but they chose not to. Still seventeen for one book is pretty good.  The third they would have taken would have been great but apparently it came with a disk which I M having a hard time finding. Still I need to start looking for It better sinc it would yield forty dollars. This coupled with the general assistance and food stamps I will apply for tomorrow should help me out tremendously. Although it is my html and CSS elements bible, so I am hesitant to part with it at this juncture. It even has some beginning Java script. 

Why am I in these straits well it is a long story involving lawyers, school financial aid, and more. The lawyers are great about holding things up. I swear, things should have been settled now but the pushing of dates forward, something I am learning they are famous for has apparently no end to it.  At any moment I could get cleared and released to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars and more. It is just a waiting game.  Until then I hang it and wait. 
Once the cash comes through I am out of here. Where,  first to Thailand to get some things done probably for about a month and a half. I want 4 weeks in treatment and then full dental work and recovery there. A few facial odds and ends and then a whole new me. Until then the daily hustle.

The next day ‘s  hustle is much more unexpectedly rewarding and long term. The nightmare that is the welfare office has finally joined the ranks of technological automation, touchscreens and all. I am out in less than an hour and a half with an early appointment for the following morning.  

There are plenty of seats for everyone, not too much Tourette’s and only a small number of obviously truly indigent people searching for parking areas for their shopping carts, aka mobile home on wheels. These are the folks that are in constant search for outlets to charge their free mobile phones that are hawked for free outside of the welfare office by the newly created homeless agency that finds that tracking via cell phone is much easier than doing a simultaneous count across the country on a single evening. See are the same folks that vow to take the non-profit to a for profit industry, one indigent at a time. I am sure with a small bite out of the meager stipend that general assistance gives for the privilege of  county contract. after securing the outlet for the mobile phone it is generally off to the restroom or makeshift bath and shower area. The floors are always soaked with people coming out of the restrooms in a state of half wet hair as the hand dryers usually have a line and after complaints from  the other patrons,  security chides them for using them.

This day is different things move efficiently and quickly, evidence the technological advances are helping and that the economic downturn is on an upswing. It has been four years since I have been in need of help and much has changed. I laugh constantly at the idea of the vilified welfare cheat. As a single man I am eligible for a two month a year benefit of 180.00 in cash aid and 180 per month in Cal Fresh food credits.  Cal-Fresh sounds so much nicer than food stamps. I am excited to learn some of the local regular farmers markets now accept Cal-Fresh  and the Saturday market in Oak Park will double one’s purchase of fresh vegetables if using Cal-Fresh. For those without a car a bus pass is provided with the benefits as well. I am offered extra day pass vouchers in addition to the pass but turn them down . The thought crosses my mind to take advantage of this free service as ,many people sell their passes at the light rail stations but I opt not to take more than I truly need. How someone would put the effort into cheating to get such a small amount is beyond me but I am sure it happens. 

Good news I find out my medi cal insurance has indeed been approved. I applied in January but due to back ups in the registration process I had not heard for sure whether or not I had been approved for it. I find it extremely ironic that Cal -fresh has a policy of not distributing food stamps to convicted drug felons for fear they will use the benefit for drugs. It is difficult to do as it comes on an atm style card redeemable for food only, any taxable item is not included I the total so toilet paper is not even an option with it. The irony in it is that the general assistance cash aid has no such restrictions. So the only option for a convicted drug felon is to receive the cash aid over the food stamps program. Make sense doesn’t it. Good news knows that cash aid won’t be spent on drugs over the food only purchase credits. I wonder how many hours went into drafting, legislating, arguing and voting on such intelligent policies as this one. 

After heading home I stop at a local business that a I have a gift card with some change left on. The is nothing I can purchase there for under 15 dollars ( a pair of socks) so I de ode maybe someone will take pity once and. Refund me the couple of bucks left on the card. When I redeemed the original for merchandise I was intending to go back and make more purchases when the need arose. The store is great, locally owned Mom and Pop small business just the kind of place I prefe to spend my dollars I when I can afford to. Most of the chains have a rule that when a gift card has less than ten dollars  left on it they have to give the change out if requested, this law does not apply to local businesses though. I am I luck not only do I have more than a couple of bucks I change let on the card ( 12.00) but the owner politely refunds the cash. I upon hearing the mount left on the Drs decide to peruse the merchandise seeing if I can afford a pair of socks. The only plain cotton pair that I can find is the least expensive at 15.00 a pair. Well I tried, had they been under nine dollars I would have jumped. Hey they gotta feed their family too. The hustle has been rewarding today. Hazaa, Hazaa! 

Now if only I can come up with the back rent, pg and e before the shut off date, and get the Mac out of hock so I can get the manuscripts I am trying to get grants for. Luckily I was able to access some of them on my iCloud last night but the largest of them the 130 pages I am trying to submit for a cal humanities grant with a  Non- profit sponsor under the California Voices grant, which encourages the stories of under represented communities to be  documented and published. They did some great work with the Afghani communities and Hmongs. 

I want to tell the stories of the HIV + indigent homeless communities, especially those that are afflicted with substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness that often result in chronic homelessness and being out of care. This results in the spreading of not only stigma, stereotypes, but the disease itself and the cycles of abuse both substance and domestic violence. I am trying to get either The VOA which runs a homeless shelter/ safe house for HIV+ men and women, Harm Reduction Services the agency that runs the syringe exchange here in Sacramento as well as providing emergency treatment for abcesses, MRSA, and other medical issues that confront the IV injection community in the Sacramento Valley two days a week using UC Davis Med. students to care for the drop in patients.

 Whereas Cares, the former  HIV medical and social services provider gives wonderful care, as a nearly full time volunteer there for over a year as a peer advocate, positive speaker for the junior high and high school level , and Shanti Life peer and eventually facilitator, as well as community outreach worker, and on the Client  Advisory Panel and AOD steering committee with positions at AIDS housing alliance and Mercy Housing’s Colonia St. Martin Community, I can attest to this. A key volunteer during the CDC and federal government visits when applying for such some huge grants and talks of becoming a federally funded community health care center were a part of my daily life. Now that the goals of such have become reality and Cares Clinic has expanded to the broader community funding is not the struggle that it could have been had it not been for the foresite  of a well educated Board of Directors connecting the Pharmacy at Cares to its funding early on in the plague. Funding is now secured but the stigma of treating mainly HIV+ clients I imagine is difficult to shake as these health centers do knot exclusively cater to Poz individuals. 

needless to say the other agencies still struggle with funding especially the smaller like Harm Reduction Servies, Breaking Barriers, and Golden Rule Services the latter two providing crucial support for youth and people of color and otherwise overlooked populations still devastated by rising HIV infection rates despite the advent of Prep. These agencies are where the most impact in stopping the spread of the disease and educating the next generation at risk and at ease. It is to these populations that I want my project to be geared towards.

So many of these stories are close to my heart and all of those involved have touched me deeply. Many of them are not with us any more cut down by a disease that for all but a few is manageable. The honor of getting to be with them and share as well as be a part of their lives in a brief moment near the end is not lost on me. Getting to sit with their estranged families and relate who they were just before their deaths, telling of their interests relating the memories that they had passed on of the family that sat before me to comfort some of the guilt that intolerant parents had used to banish them many years previous was just the beginning in the telling of their living with AIDS, shunned by family, dying in hospice, often overlooked by those even living with them. The stories and voices are not silenced in my mind and still more tell their own stories today. Let the world hear their voices. Let the young and their families not endure the loneliness, shame, regret, and guilt these tender souls did as a result of stigma that still rears its ugly head today. The hustle continues on so many levels.