It is early evening. Their quest is just beginning. One by one, they gratefully accept the equipment needed for the evening's event. Silently they move through the streets of Sacramento, diligently moving in procession throughout the hour long trek, never complaining, carrying their nightly existence in a space not much bigger than a bread box. Thirty five to forty more minutes of assembly, then they can rest, but never peacefully.
They sit and talk of better times. They talk of the possibility of a future in Eden. They long for Eden. They fight for Eden. In Eden there is a new beginning. In Eden there is hope. In Eden there is a confidence that will Help Our People Excel.
Morning comes quickly. Overlooking the inviting river view that goes unnoticed, they carefully pack their equipment. Thirty to forty minutes of dis assembly. Silently they move through the streets of Sacramento, diligently moving in procession throughout the hour long trek, never complaining, carrying their nightly existence in a space not much bigger than a bread box. One by one they gratefully return the equipment they will need again for that evening's event.
They work hard for this nightly ritual. They work hard for a place to rest their head. They work hard for a place to call home. They work hard in hopes of Eden.
I'm sorry sir. I know the boys are having fun but you must take down the tent. But it's in my own back yard. I'm sorry sir but to have a tent up for more than 24 hours is illegal. But it's just for the weekend. I'm sorry sir. It's illegal.
Safe Ground is a tent city within the confines of Sacramento. There is more of a sense of community within these 32 tent residents than there is in many of the cities I have traveled through these past 52 days. They work together as a team. They protect their own. They love without question, without judgment. They are a family.
But Safe Ground isn't always that. They have had people spit at them; throw bottles at them; urinate on their tents. Ridicule is a daily ritual. Prejudice and hatred are tossed at them hourly. They try hard to ignore, but it isn't always easy to do.
The rangers for the most part leave them alone, but they must travel to the depths of the state park in order to find sanctuary even for one night. They must move their tent homes each day, for in the state of California, it is illegal to have a tent structure up even in your own back yard.
There is a solution. Eden. It's a piece of land that no one uses on the outskirts of Sacramento. It could become permanent housing for these 32 residents of Safe Ground. A place where they can have a bed, running water, a self-sustaining garden. It could be the safe place to go at night and sleep without fear. It could be home.
You cannot have more than 5 people in a two bedroom apartment sir. It's illegal. But I have four kids. Sorry sir. It's illegal. But I can't afford a bigger place. Sorry sir. It's illegal. The rent would be more than I make. Sorry sir. It's illegal.
You cannot live the way it's affordable sir. It's illegal.
You cannot live in your tent sir. It's illegal.
You cannot sleep in your car sir. It's illegal.
You cannot sleep on the park bench sir. It's illegal.
You cannot be homeless sir. It's illegal.
Everyone deserves the right to an affordable home. Be the change.