It doesn’t take the recently released Point in Time Count report to know that the number of unsheltered people in downtown San Diego is exploding. Seeing every vacant lot encircled with blue tent and tarp encampments propped against chain-link fencing, has ceased to evoke alarm. It’s now the norm.
Last week, homeless advocates, including myself, confronted the mayor for authorizing installation of a $57,000 rock bed under an overpass where homeless people frequently camped. On social media, we were accused of being bleeding hearts who were giving aid and comfort to creatures who don’t deserve our concern. They called the ugly barrier that was built without a shred of effort to be attractive, a “rock garden”! When one of our group spoke at City Council about the inhumanity of using pest-control tactics to repel human beings, two councilpersons actually giggled!
When did we get to be so heartless and mean? When did it become acceptable to scorn those who are less fortunate and mock those who are compassionate?
Anatomy of a successful press event
Some days I marvel at the value of the network of good people that has grown in our community—people involved in so many different areas, all so critical, who come together to support one another in our various efforts. Without that, we could have never pulled off the very successful action on Tuesday April 19 in protest of the City’s reprehensible decision to fill an underpass in Sherman Heights where homeless people take shelter with rocks.
This was a case where all systems were running at peak performance. For the sake of all of those younger people who are just starting to dip their toes in the art of community organizing, here’s how it goes when you have a cadre of like-minded friends to call upon for a cause. (I’m using actual first names here because all of those people deserve the kudos.) In the end, that’s more valuable than a pile of money and hired hands.
By Olympia Andrade Beltrán
Brown skinned and beautiful,
Island girl the youngest of six.
Inner fire bursting forth from dimpled smiles.
Her Island rises up from the streets of Sherman Heights,
a great temple where love and family are revered.
Ancient smells of chocolate and roasted chiles
mixed with silky ballads of Jorge Negrete
coloring her walk to Stockton Elementary school
with piñata vibrant flair.
Obsidian hair, wild and unruly,
whips behind her as she defies gender stereotypes
with a line drive to center field.
Playground boys high five her when the game is over,
despite sideways glances from starch pressed girls
tightly clutching their school books.
By Brent E. Beltrán
Candles. Photos. Marigolds and other flowers. Some favorite foods. Maybe a beer or shot of tequila. We all remember differently our loved ones who have passed.
Some remember with regret, others with joy, sadness, longing. But we remember.
Death is but a natural part of life. We carry our dead with us in our hearts and some are hoisted upon the bony blades of their forbearers. But we remember.
Doug Porter recently wrote about the after hours demolition of one of San Diego’s two remaining historic Saltbox houses. The Bernie Michels-Thom Carey house at the corner of Florida Street and El Cajon Blvd was bulldozed by contractors working for developer HG Fenton this past Friday, May 29.
San Diego 6News has reported that the demolition permit may have been issued in error and that the city’s Development Services Department is conducting a “forensic review.” If that is the case, it is one helluva oops. A dozen red roses and a Hallmark card won’t put humpty dumpty back together again.
By Brent E. Beltrán
This is the first in what I hope will be a bi-weekly column within my Desde la Logan column that will highlight the various happenings in the barrios of San Diego. I can’t cover everything but I can highlight those things that I feel deserve to be seen and read about. It’s a work in progress so bear with me.
Barrio Logan Planning Group Holds First Meeting
Barrio Logan finally has a planning group! And I’m on it!
On January 20 the Barrio Logan Planning Group held its first meeting ever at Woodbury University School of Architecture. The meeting was attended by more than 65 people plus the fifteen appointed planning group members that were able to make it. The large crowd was a good start and shows the interest that community members have in getting involved in Barrio Logan.
Maritime industry made it very clear that they were upset with David Alvarez not appointing anybody of their liking to the group. Well boohoo! Elections have consequences and the consequences for their B & C referendum is them not (yet) having a seat on the planning group. There’ll be plenty of opportunities in the future for them to worm their way onto the group. Until then they can give public comment.
The San Diego Free Press receives emails about quality of life issues from residents across the city and county. These issues receive little if any media coverage and inadequate attention from policy makers and enforcement agencies. We have decided to provide a civic forum for those issues in our weekly Street Beat column.
Sherman Heights Street Conditions
Sherman Heights resident Remy Bermúdez sent the following email to Councilman Alvarez, Mayor Faulkner and Council President Gloria:
By Brent E. Beltrán
The holidays are upon us and the time for gift giving is here. Instead of shopping at the malls and giving your hard earned cash to a corporation why not purchase items from local artists and artisans?
Here is a short list of holiday art bazaars and small businesses that deserve to be patronized this holiday season.
Día de los Muertos Commemorated for Thousands of Years in the Americas
By Brent E. Beltrán
Los días de los muertos have been commemorated for thousands of years in the Americas. It started in what is now México and has spread throughout the United States and the world. Today these days are celebrated by people of many different colors and cultures.
November 1 is Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) when deceased children are honored and November 2 is known as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where we pay tribute to adults who have passed away. These dates correspond with the Christian holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day.
Lack of Interpreters is a Life and Death Situation for Many
By Lorena Gonzalez
There are more than 50 languages spoken more comfortable and proficiently than English by the residents in the South Bay and Mid-City San Diego neighborhoods I represent. Throughout California, this challenge is shared by more than 6.5 million Californians, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
Ordering food. Asking for directions. Attending school. Interviewing for a job. Filling prescriptions. Rescheduling appointments.
No situation involving a language barrier is as frightening, though, as one that risks the life of a loved one.
Read Tacos. Eat Poetry.
By Brent E. Beltrán
Has it already been twenty years since a band of guerrilla word slingers thought to share poetry with taco shop patrons? Apparently so, as the Taco Shop Poets are back in poetic motion for a gig at The Front in San Ysidro.
Founding Taco Shop Poets member Adolfo Guzman Lopez told me “it’s been 20 years since the idea for taco shop poetry was put in motion. We’re presenting the group’s 2011 book Sugarskull Sueños at the Tijuana book fair and what better place to reflect on our personal journeys as Mexican Americans, Chicanos, Latinos, cuarentones, border vatos, and fathers than a homegrown community space in San Ysidro.”
Originally started as a large, loose knit group of mostly Chicano and Latino raconteurs the Taco Shop Poets almost singlehandedly helped recreate the California spoken word poetry scene. They eventually whittled themselves down into a tight collective of border bards that have toured the nation and beyond. Their influence on the Chicano poetry world can still be felt today even though they’ve been relatively dormant the past few years.