Re: Article: Homeless Oaklanders were tired of the housing crisis. So they built a ‘miracle’ village
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Before explaining the tarpee village in St Johns, I'd like to tell you about Jason Barns Landing which is the name of the tarpee village.
Jason Barns was a houseless person in St Johns. I met him about 5 years ago freezing in the icy rain at Safeway. I got him clothes from truck and helped him change out of his wet pants and shirt. He had plastic bags on his feet instead of socks because he had no socks. We became very close that year, and I made sure, as did others, to know where Jason was sleeping on the street and make sure he was alive. He was one of our most vulnerable on our streets. He came to one day, in tears, pleading w/ me to build a village for him and his street family. He knew he'd die on the streets if they didn't have a village. I brought him w/ me to talk to Wheeler---we both knew Wheeler would lie to him, but there's something about being able to speak truth to power anyway. The story around that is long and I won't delve into it here other than to say that of course, Wheeler lied. Jason died on Willamette Blvd just before Thanksgiving in 2018 while canning. The unhoused community that I am a part of as their advocate, made a commitment to follow through on a village in memory of Jason. While we had tried to "follow the rules" while Jason was alive, we didn't succeed. Soon after, Jason Barns Landing became a reality.
Not very updated FB page of JBL: https://www.facebook.com/JASONBARNSLANDING
JBL, as it's known to us, was a self-determined village put up w/ the help of others like myself who know that the city process kills houseless people while it slugs its way through bureaucracy. Folks on the street don't have time to wait. Waiting is a luxury only the wealthy can live through. The initial JBL village was put up on the north side of the Peninsula Trail at Columbia. We had 2 toilets bought and pre-paid by a business owner in St Johns, for a year! But Nick Fish had the toilet company remove them. So we got them again. Nick Fish had them removed. Again. Nick Fish sent out the goon squad of Park Rangers and Cops on a weekly basis to threaten our women (and men), assault our Black female resident with racial epithets, and threaten all of us w/ jail time. Weekly. We lasted for 9 months even throughout all of this. By winter we decided due to the daily harassment by the city, we should disband for a bit and come together again in the future.
That time has come. After sweep after sweep, our friends from JBL and others on the Cut, have had enough. They asked for another village, especially since they were lied to about the St Johns Village that's across the street from the SJCC. That village was never for us. We all knew that. For years, we've known that.
Enter the tarpees. We spoke to a man who's part of the Salish tribes in WA who designed tarpees for Standing Rock. After many zoom mtgs w/ him over the pandemic timeline, he gave us his blessing to use his design for BIPOC unhoused people and also anyone who is unhoused and not BIPOC. My friends on the streets in SJ are fed up w/ sweeps. Absolutely fed up. So we set up on an unused piece of land on the Cut next to the spot where they recently were swept into...from the North side, back to the South side. As it turns out, although the plot of land was Parks land when we set up, it's now the Housing Bureau's land, supposedly allocated to a new build for low-income housing. On day 1 of the tarpee build when we installed 2 tarpees, the HB came out to tell us we were trespassing. We informed them that no matter where houseless people are, they are trespassing, according to the city. So what? We also told them that if it's true that this low-income housing is going to go up for folks who are BIPOC and were gentrified out of PDX, that we'd leave when the trucks came to begin the dig, but not before that. It could take years before the actual dig occurs.
Yesterday, we put up the 4th tarpee. The folks occupying the tarpees are like new people! Their sense of self-worth is back. They can stand inside the tall tarpee. They have built in beds and a built in table. They are beautiful. And we can move them when or if we have to. The fence company came yesterday to line out where the huge fence will be put up. The guy told us that a sweep will happen in the next 2 weeks sometime. We are not leaving. This is why we need support. The notion that sweeping people is a way to "handle" the "situation" is not tenable for unhoused people. In this case, it's the Housing Bureau unhousing unhoused people and as we told them on day 1, we aren't leaving until the trucks come to do the dig. This can buy us a lot of time which means more stability for folks in the village.
As of now, we have a doctor on board for our folks in JBL. He's a friend of mine and he is now the doctor on call for our people. We are connecting people to services they are in need of, as they ask for services they want.
The tarpee team and JBL need your support now to help us stay put until the dig happens. No one knows when that day will come.
Please reach out to me if you want to help. I'd love to take you around to meet folks at the camp.
My number is 503-453-9005. Call or text. Or email. Just a heads up...I dislike communicating by text at length. I prefer to speak on the phone. Old school. I'm 57.
With love and hope of support...
On Tue, May 11, 2021 at 7:10 PM Sharron Fuchs <sharronfuchs@...> wrote: