You are homeless. You joined SafeGround yesterday by signing a pledge to not drink, do drugs or be violent in camp. That after- noon at 5 pm you and 40 others were issued tents and sleeping bags and walked out to a location on the river. Even though you are not indoors you finally feel safe enough to actually sleep, because now you are not alone.
Your day begins in a small tent in the early light by the shore of the American River. A camp elder tugs on your tent and tells you to get up. It is 6 am. The camp must leave the site by 7 am. You are expected to clean up your site and leave nothing but footprints.
SafeGround is led by five elders who are elected by the whole camp. Elders are elected for their ability to lead and inspire. They work hard to keep the camp at peace and well organized, tend to the camp phone, see that everyone abides by the pledge.
You joined because you were afraid and the words “safe ground” sounded good. But you learned there was more. SafeGround is committed to the repeal of the Sacramento Anti-camping Ordinance which makes it illegal to camp out anywhere in the city for more than 24 hours, even with the property owner’s permission. This makes it illegal to sleep if you cannot find a roof to sleep under, and criminalizes those of us who have no home and can find no shelter. SafeGround is also committed to find an actual safe ground, where we can live together in simple inexpensive one or two bed sleeping cabins, self governed and self guarded.
You also discover that sometimes SafeGround goes to a church for a respite from police and the weather. Since mid December three faith communities - Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Trinity Lutheran Church, and St. Johns Lutheran Church - have opened their doors and hearts and given us sanctuary.
You look around and see a wide diversity of people. SafeGround is composed of blacks, Latinos and whites, men and women, the young and the old, people who have laptops, college students as well as the illiterate. Many of them generously share their resources and talents with you.
You feel like the survivor of a natural disaster, thrown in with others the way people are thrown together after a big earthquake, having to make do with what little you all have left, your one unifying bond a common challenge to survive, a fellowship of suf- fering, and a desire fused by that suffering to help each other to rise together to rebuild your lives.
This is SafeGround at its best. This is what we strive to be and do.
We would like you to be our honored guest. You are welcome to join us on a Thursday night. We will provide you with a clean sleeping bag and tent if you do not already have these items. SafeGround will help you get to our current camp site or church and make sure you get back safely. We will feed you and keep you safe as we did our Honorable Mayor Kevin Johnson when he came to visit us last summer.
Call David Moss, 916-834-2228 if you have any questions or would like to make a reservation.Love & Peace,
The Loaves & Fishes Community
P.O. Box 2161
Sacramento, CA 95812