Letters: Leave Hazelnut Grove camp in place
It's not too late to change the planned move of the Hazelnut Grove community. Please reconsider your shortsighted idea that clearing the grove would solve the area's use by campers.
The minute this well-run and organized camp is cleared, new campers will move in, returning the area to its previous cycle of dangerous campers, loose dogs, open campfires and drug use.
There are at least two nearby groups poised for this to happen. This certainty comes to me from walking that area for over 13 years.
You may not mind wasting your taxpayer money to have the police clearing the area endlessly and having the resulting refuse hauled away, but I do.
Not only is it fiscally irresponsible, it's cruel. It is also dangerous to those who have to clean up the area when there are needles and human waste to clear after the camp sweeps.
This plan to clear out an established and obviously well-run group that cares well for 15 to 20 people should not be decided by just the City Council and a small group of people who purport to represent all of us in the neighborhood. You do not. This issue should be explained to the public and decided by all of the taxpayers of this city.
Jeanette Marie Stoddard
It takes a village
Think about this: From the Willamette River to I-205, and from the Columbia River to Johnson Creek, there's probably more than 16,000 blocks. If we broke up those blocks into four-block sections, there would be 4,000 sections. Coincidentally, there are approximately 4,000 people in Portland currently without a home.
What if we tried to come up with a system where one house in each "section" agreed to host a person currently experiencing homelessness. It doesn't have to be a room — a garage, a porch, maybe even a backyard to place a tent. Potentially, a subset of eastern Portland could end homelessness. That's what the numbers say if everyone pitched in.
Granted, we'd have to have a plan. There would be rules of conduct for both hosts and guests, and they'd need to be monitored and enforced. Sanitation would need to be taken care of.
It would be great if multiple neighbors pitched in with everything from food and lavatory usage to socialization and perhaps even vocational improvement. It would be a true neighborhood effort.
We could create a web-based management system to keep things completely transparent. We'd know who the guests were and who was hosting and where they were located. Everyone could and, in fact, should get to know one another. After all, this is how communities used to work. We seemed to have forgotten that.
It might sound like an outrageous idea, but the concept is dirt simple. Small groups would work together to "adopt" a marginalized citizen and integrate them back into society. Craziest part? It just might work. In fact, it may be the only thing that will work. Nothing seems to be working now. Maybe we should give it a chance. We definitely need to try something new.
You ready for the challenge? If you're not, that's fine. But you kind of lose the right to complain if you're not ready to do something about this. This problem already is in all of our backyards and it isn't going away anytime soon, that's for sure.
And it's getting real cold. Once the Christmas cheer is gone and the giving season has subsided, we're all going to wake up and it's going to be a new year. However, it's going to look even worse than the old years because over 4,000 people will be living in the street.
Think about that.
Tear gas was warranted
In regard to Anakha Coman's Dec. 13 letter, "Halt attacks on asylum seekers," there are some very practical and nonpolitical answers to the questions she posed.
When she asked, "Why are we using tear gas on people seeking asylum?" The tear gas wasn't used on these people because they were seeking asylum. Rather, it was used on them because they were trying to storm the border and breach the fence that separates the two countries.
I would ask Ms. Coman to try to imagine people storming across the border from Blaine, Washington, into Surrey, British Columbia. My guess is that she probably would be outraged, as many others surely would.
If these asylum seekers were truly seeking asylum from an oppressive country, Honduras in this case, then why do they come to the border brandishing the Honduran flag?
The same goes for those fleeing oppression in the Middle East, who only want to implement their oppressive ways on us.
This from someone whose family immigrated here from the Netherlands, legally, after WWII.
Michael van der Hout
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