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Talking Trash




Heidi Walters' article "New Direction" (Jan. 19) talks compassionately about all sorts of trash: the kind generated by the community's less responsible or able homeless people, trash left by the occupiers of bushes, marshes and forests, trash left by the Occupiers of the Eureka Courthouse ... how society may treat people like trash when they lack a home.

So this is where the great causes of human and civil rights meet up with the rights of the environment and public use: at the tunnels behind the Mall, on the trampled and muddy courthouse lawn. Is it OK to trash the environment while championing freedom of speech and assembly?

Speaking as "we, in the houseless and poor advocacy community," Verbena, (Kim Starr), trashed activist John Shelter severely, calling him a very foul name. She also exhorted the supervisors, the DA and the EPD recently to "stop lying" about their professed respect for the constitutional rights of protestors and the houseless. Regardless of how these entities are perceived, pejorative name calling certainly won't help the chances of resolving problems for activists who are trying to foster dialog with them.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart moves in. This profits-before-people, everyday-low-wages kind of trash, a Mallwart, could be truly toxic to our businesses and quality of life. They have an expansion planned in Ukiah. The Richardson Grove widening project will be very beneficial for their huge trucks.

When camping or protesting, let's respect the land and landscaping. As nonviolent activists, let's remember the first guideline of the nonviolence code: We will be open, honest and friendly.

Naomi Wagner, Eureka

I was so thrilled to see John Shelter's picture on the front of the North Coast Journal. I thought about what he meant to my life. In 2008 I became homeless. I moved into the Rescue Mission. John agreed to have me participate in the Endeavor for my Experience Works training.
Being homeless, I was hopelessly socially isolated and living in total poverty -- most unbearable depressive conditions, indeed. Sundays we had to leave the Rescue Mission at 5 a.m. I walked all over Eureka until the mission opened at 5 p.m. Then, Monday morning, the doors opened at the Endeavor and I entered a vibrant social world.

I treasured every moment when I had a chance to be with John Shelter. I felt that he really knew what I was going through. I felt that his eyes and brain were 100 percent focused on me as we talked. John Shelter connected to me being a highly educated person in physics and as a lifetime victim of supreme social isolation. Under John Shelter's supervision, my "sociability" rose. I began to experience myself as one of the Endeavor's social group. I left Experience Works. I told John Shelter I wanted to spend time finding a woman. He told me to "follow your dream." Being in the Endeavor with its lunch program was like being in high school or a fraternity. For once, I belonged. Well, I hope John Shelter fulfills his dreams.

Ed Musgrave, Fortuna

With more and more people without places to live walking our streets I was very glad to see the coverage of the work that John Shelter is doing and has done for a long while now. His incredible commitment and dedication to his chosen calling is wonderful. I was struck by Shelters' values as outlined by his friend, Pastor Schulze, of dignity first, then the teaching of responsibility and that there is no free lunch. That Shelter works with the EPD is very important. The practices of the EPD in terms of the homeless have often and long left a great deal to be desired. In particular the taking away of tents, sleeping bags and personal belongings leaving people with nothing is an unacceptable practice that has long been the EPD's MO. Do we want to be a culture that punishes people for being homeless??I love Shelter's dream of a campground funded by grants. I love that he thinks big. Kudos to him.

What I did not love was the petty remarks made by Kim Starr, aka Verbena, who said that Shelter is "what we call in the houseless and poor advocacy community a 'poverty pimp' " What is both amusing and disgusting about her hurling that epithet at Shelter is that a couple of years ago, in a discussion in the Humboldt Sentinel, she was referred to as a "poverty pimp." Maybe she's been saving that up just waiting to use it on someone else. Although she sees herself as a member of the "houseless and poor advocacy community," I am not aware of anything she has done in that area of any significance, and now she is orchestrating the Eureka Occupy, which is hardly creating an image that is helpful to the Occupy movement locally or to the many homeless who hang around there. ?I doubt that Verbena's remarks will slow down John Shelter. He would seem to be like one of those blow up figures that are used as punching bags: they go down with each punch and pop right back up again.

Sylvia De Rooy, Westhaven

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