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Grassroots Graton - October 2015 - Heather Granahan


Grassroots Graton -  October 2015 - Heather Granahan

by Heather Granahan

Get an Eyeful, Plateful and Bagful

Start Fall right by bathing your eyebones in fall flower creations at the Graton Community Club’s Fall Flower Show:  “Symphony In Flowers”, Fri and Sat October 9 &10. Free admission; bring a little cash and enjoy lunch from 11-2 with Club members who are as versed in Graton’s history as they are in flora and delicious food. Have a glass of wine or a cuppa and shop for a white elephant. (What? Oh, man – well, you’re right. It probably would eat the garden the first day.) Scope some books, arts and crafts – the holidays are around the corner, after all.

The OTHER Tiny Homes

There is another type of tiny home making a presence in the town. The tolerant nature of the village has led to as many as 7-8 “full-time” campers and RV dwellers congregating on the streets around the Atelier One and the Purple Wine Co. properties. Although they keep a low profile, seem friendly and keep moving in accordance with the 72-hour parking law, some business folks and homeowners have begun to ask about the viability of the growing population of wheeled abodes. Other than one who was observed plugged into the outdoor outlet of a closed business, there is no evidence these semi-housed visitors are responsible for anything like the abandoned rugs in the Community Park Site, dumped trash or using Park bushes as very-out-houses. All this has been an ongoing side effect of the transient population here for years.

With the Bay Area’s current housing shortage in mind, most talk has been pretty understanding. One homeowner comments that their own kids are working two jobs just to keep a Sonoma County roof over their heads, “All they do is work! What kind of a life is that?” she asks.

If you read this spot, you know I agree heartily with the observation that there is a shameful and alarming lack of affordable housing in the whole North Bay, and I believe it is bound for worse. The lucky are long-time owners, the rest are relegated to live-to-work routines. There are rumors about a new Google facility in Novato on the new train line - imagine how that will impact us. Can you say displacement? RVs start looking like reasonable if not intelligent choices. I even had an email asking if Graton would house Syrian refugees. As big as our hearts are, I’m not even sure where we can put local homeseekers, let alone those devastated by the Valley Fire or Syrian gunfire. 

It seems realistic to say that the semi-housed will continue to grow in our town and county. While our community members are consciously working not to vilify any one group, especially a group likely to have limited means, many feel there is a need to gather and discuss solutions. Some feel there is no harm being done and tolerance is the best path; as one Gratonite puts it, “Without some alternatives, the result will do little more than simply move the 'problem' to another location. Homeless people are sensitive beings too ... just less fortunate than me and you”. 

Others concerned about “unintended consequences” have offered some short and long-term ideas to mitigate trash and toilet needs of visitors of all kinds - like gently enforce parking and trespassing rules while sharing lists of other free camping places, shorter parking times around Park once it is started, adding restrooms and trash cans if tending and paid pick-ups can be arranged.

A voice of reason is from our burning soul-leader for our Park, HolLyn DeLil, who applauds the idea of restroom facilities in the park, much like Guerneville installed in spite of concerns that never came to bear. She points out, “It will take the whole community to accomplish this - first, we need to raise about $100,000 to purchase the land for a park (as matching funds for an Open Space grant.) Then, we'll need funds to develop the land into a park, including paths, a community garden, benches, tables, and a restroom facility.  I hope all of you are looking into how much you can donate and what you can do to raise funds to create Graton's Park.” Good point – I hope we all are!

Little Valley of Help for Valley Fire

A hug to Graton that has reached hearts and assistance out to people and animals displaced by the tragic Valley Fire. Right away loads of donations were arranged and delivered from the Graton valley, and best ways to donate funds were shared.

The Red Cross was not deemed a top choice due to their inability to guarantee local funds going directly to fire victims.  Though the Red Cross is adept and helpful in many disasters, local people wanted a more direct way to help. Booster kitchens cook and serve alongside Red Cross organization efforts, and direct local donations are being handled by the Redwood Credit Union, North Coast Opportunities in Ukiah and other local organizations. May all who are able continue to give locally of visions and funds.