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UPDATE: Camp Michela, Roseland

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UPDATE: Camp Michela, Roseland

By Vesta Copestakes

I met Jennifer Wertz at Camp Michela last week because she wants to learn from what they accomplished to see if lessons learned will benefit the homeless in her home town of Guerneville. This camp was established almost a year ago by OCCUPY Sonoma County as both a political and social statement to bring awareness to Sonoma County’s homeless population. What began as an experiment has become a working village of 18 residents, so in essence, what they set out to do, they have accomplished. 

The camp does not exist without assistance from both the county Community Development Commission, and volunteers who bring supplies and watch over daily life. But the bottom line is that it became a working system and functions well according to camp leaders Bonnie & John.

Protected by a fence with privacy screening and a gate that they lock at night, residents work together to keep the camp clean, organized and secure. It functions very much like any small village with leadership, shared responsibilities and rules.


When Jenifer and I visited, we did not tell anyone we were coming so they had no time to prepare for our visit. We caught then as they are every day. We signed in and Bonnie and John gave us a tour so Jennifer could see how this working village functions. She has an idea that may work in her town, so seeing the kitchen, the power source, the pets that live in harmony, the trash service and porta potties, etc. that provide essentials is what she was looking for. And the rules and shared respinsibilites that people abide by and respect make this village neat and tidy.

But at the beginning of May this village needs to find a new home, so the big questions are where and will they move intact or spread out to multiple locations. Much depends upon the first question...where?  

The county Board of Superviors have suggested creating a village of tiny houses at the county lot on the corner of Administration Drive and Mendocino Avenue. In many ways this would be the perfect place to move this working village. Although the grocery store is up the hill instead of a few feet away, it does have the conveniences of food, power and proximity to public transportation. And these residents have proven themselves over time. They would be the perfect, residents to live in tiny houses instead of tents.

Camp Michela, Roseland - neat and tidy