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Sonoma County Gazette
Feeling Graton by Jennifer Butler

Homeless in Graton

Aug 30, 2018


In the last publication, I asked for readers to send me their suggestions, concerns or questions regarding the expanding homeless population in Graton. I received a lot of feedback. Some from e-mails, some calls and then some just passing conversations on the street.

Not many suggestions and a lot of unloading. More than one person wrote me stating that they fear that brining this to print will force an unfavorable action against the homeless. They feel concern that if we put it in the spotlight then people will react and push the homeless out.

I struggled with that for a bit and then decided to move forward with it. I understand this is a fair objective however, since the greater community is aware of the situation it is best that we arrive at a solution collectively while hearing everyone’s opinion. It is incredibly difficult for an amateur writer to cover this with the diplomacy and skill it deserves so I have decided for the first round to simply write in either a synopsis of the sender’s e-mail communication or quote it but leave it all anonymous. This gives the reader a chance to know how their neighbors are feeling.

However, this topic deserves more than just opinions so I have started doing some research and interviews. In the next edition I will share with you what I find out and what alternatives there are. It is such a huge topic and I want to be considerate to all perspectives.

Please continue to e-mail mail me as I imagine this will be covered in the next two editions. But for now here is some of the feedback…

From your neighbors…

• “No one is getting hurt and that space isn’t being used (Bowen & Shirley) so why not let them stay there?”

• “The garbage piled up is a concern to me. It is unsightly and a potential fire hazard. I don’t like to think of the creek getting polluted”

• “I don’t mind that the homeless are there. We don’t know their history or their situation and we shouldn’t judge. How would you like it if you had nowhere you live and no one wanted you?”

• “I don’t feel safe. I don’t walk that way at night anymore and I don’t let my daughters ride their bikes in that direction”

• “The other night when I was passing by I heard a big fight coming from the motorhomes on Bowen. It was scary. Obviously there are problems greater than just homelessness and we need to address the bigger picture like mental health”

• “We should have no overnight parking allowed in Graton. That would be a good first step. As a business owner I can tell you that I am unhappy with the image it gives to visitors have this problem in Graton”

• After the fires so many people have had to find other resources for housing”

• “It makes me feel angry when I walk by. There is garbage lying about, broken down cars, and dogs off leash. I have also seen extension cords crossing the road. How are we allowing this in downtown Graton?”

• “I feel badly for everyone both the homeless and the homed. I know no one’s wants to see another person suffer and have nowhere to call home but I also understand that residents don’t want to have an unplanned dwelling in their neighborhood. We need the county and state to come up with long term viable options for the housing crisis. In the meantime compassion is the best practice.”

• “it is unacceptable and I want something done about it”

Just one more reason I love Graton

Freshly picked blackberries on the bike path… Yummy

You can help make Graton history! 

Written by HollLynn D’Lil

Please come to help dedicate Graton’s new green, Sunday, September 30, from 2 to 6 at the Graton Labor Center (Centro Laboral) on Bowen Street.  This 3rd Annual Graton Green Gathering will include a historic march led by the Hubbub Club around the new Graton Green. Dojin and others from the Stone Creek Zen Center will sprinkle water on the land as we march. Everyone will have an opportunity to dip their hands in the Center’s water vessel to add their blessing.

Special scissors will be provided for children to help Supervisor Lynda Hopkins cut a green ribbon around the Graton water tower, soon to be the Graton Green Amphitheater. Everyone is invited to cut a piece of the ribbon as a keepsake.  (Be nice to the children so they will loan you their scissors.) As part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Aztec Dancers will dance to bless the return of this land to the people. 

Musicians for the festivities include Chris RiebliThe Rogers, and the Hubbub Club. Games for the children will include, but are not limited to chalking, giant bubbles, medium bubbles and little bubbles, as well as face painting by Susan Nestor. Plan on a photo session with John Martin to remember your presence at the history day! Great food will be provided from Mexico Lindo and The Bohemian Creamery, with wine from Bowman WinePurple Wine and beer from Lagunitas Brewery.  Mexico Lindo will also provide aqua frescas and there will be popcorn provided by the Elliotts

Get out your favorite recipes for the Baking Contest! Winners will receive one-of-a-kind prizes and the satisfaction of making great sweets for the Gathering. As they say, Eat sweets (and bake them)—Sugar is good for the park! 

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, everyone will return to the Labor Center for a Graton Community Jam—local musicians will jam while the community dances.  There will be opportunities to decorate ribbons cut from the historic ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Think green! Wear green to the Gathering—it will go with your ribbons! 

Please let me know if there is something that you would like me to know or write about. You can reach me


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