Homeless camp in Garberville is neat as a pin

Dear Editor,

It was announced at the last community meeting on homelessness in Garberville that a "Clean Camp Crew" (CCC) had been formed. Originally myself and my partner "VIII" (who has been resolutely recycling bottles and cans already this year), took responsibility for preventing a back-up of trash at the Vet's Park during the heavy camping season.

Very quickly, we were topping a 100 pounds plus of trash, minus recyclables, each week which we dutifully drove to the Eel River dump. Campers have been quick to realize that this was a way to reduce trash that they otherwise took back to their camps or deposited up-town in an already stressed trash can scene.

When John Casali stated at the early October homelessness meeting that his crews would no longer function hereabouts, we decided to extend our pick-ups to the various camps from the school district building to Dean Creek. Throughout October, with VIII as my guide, we have been visiting the camp sites along this route, and picking up Caltrans garbage bags alongside the road.

We have removed as much as 300 pounds of garbage, minus recyclables and reusables in a single week. We are keeping track with receipts. I was pleased to see the good effects of our work noticed by Sheriff Downey, quoted as saying that the trash situation was not as bad as they expected when the Sheriffs' went into the camps after the first rains.

The Sheriff was present at the community meeting in late October when I announced the formation of the Clean Camp Crew, although he didn't inform us that he would be using carloads of deputies to help us do the work. I am sorry that the county had to use police time to do a job which the Clean Camp Crew sees as a simple service organization task. Every camper we talked to when we are making our collection tours was enthusiastic about keeping their camps clean. We offered them trash bags and many people now depend on us.

Our intention is to reinforce campers' willingness to respect the environment they are in. Being mostly travelers, the campers know that trash build-up happens only too quickly when anyone in the link of campers does not clean up after themselves. Many are veterans of Rainbow Gatherings and more recently of various occupations so there is not much really for us to teach. The main task of our service crew is to be there for the occasional camper who does not pick up after themselves so that there will not be a a build-up stuff detrimental to the health and beauty of our forest.

If you want to join our "CCC," contact me at 923-4488. Already almost a dozen people have volunteered trucks and time for this task. We are grateful that SWAP teams will put some time at this work, but believing that real service is voluntary, we think that the Clean Camp Crews are the way to go.

Paul Encimer