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[whitespace] Dave and Faith Carroll Keeping the Faith: Married couple Dave and Faith Carroll say a little bit of love helps the disabled survive institutionalized living.


Alive Again

That newly painted mural at the Town Clock end of Pacific Avenue, on the corner of the Courtyard Commons, titled Alive Again, is worth a few minutes contemplation. The mural is the colorful yet troubling culmination of a community project headed by Pierre Bombardier, a graduating student in UCSC' s Community Studies program and co-founder of Life Designs for Peace and Health.

Hoping to raise awareness about what the disabled in our community go through, Bombardier interviewed more than 20 disabled residents at Pleasant Care, a local nursing home. What he found was "a lot of hopelessness, despair, waiting and people stuck in rooms. Even when they were together in the dining room, they seemed to be alone." Bombardier and fellow artists Dylan Morgan and Joe Leeman worked with residents Mario D'Olivio, Gil Wright, Dave and Faith Carroll , and Kurtis Lemke (and many others) to determine which images best represented their life experiences. The result? A mural at the site of destruction and loss during the Loma Prieta earthquake that will give even the hardened pause.

Said D'Olivio to a 300-plus crowd at the mural's Oct. 27 dedication ceremony, "When I was first diagnosed with MS some 20 years ago, I totally buried myself ... but finally I got out of it again. That's how the mural relates to me."

Gil Wright pointed out that aside from the mural's lovely colors, "it's important to look down on the pit area and see the doorways, the people overshadowed by the limits of institutional living--the short road to hell."

Newlywed Faith Carroll was there with husband Dave, whom she met at Pleasant Care two years ago--and married Sept. 29, 2001. "We're called disabled, when really we're differently abled," said Carroll, who spoke of a need for people to volunteer time--and a little money. "A little bit of love and a handshake go a long way," said Carroll. Residents of Pleasant Care only get $35 a month to buy basics such as bus tickets, shampoo, diapers, toothpaste and socks. "Try spreading that over a month--it don't go far," said Carroll, adding that institutional food "is bad, the staff overworked."

Declaring Oct. 27 as Isolation Awareness Day, Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Christopher Krohn said, "This is to be a day of breaking down barriers, an annual event celebrating the lives of isolated and alienated residents, some of whose stories are represented on this mural." Or as Kurtis Lemke put it, "It's not just for us to ponder isolation but to find a way to live together and build bridges, so we're really living together as a community."

For Lemke, the mural changes perspective every time. "Looking at it from top left to bottom right, it gets awfully depressing down there in the basement. And a lot of us are down there, limping, crawling, rolling around on the ground, but then you see us get up and crawl out of the pit. We've got to help ourselves and reach up and grab help--and there are a lot of people up here who'll help us. We gotta reach out of that pit."

Yury Rahubin, who co-founded Life Designs for Peace and Health with Bombardier and coordinated the Oct. 27 theatrical/musical component of the mural, says this is the first of many planned "community response Life Narrative Mural and Oral History Theatrical projects." Rahubin and Bombardier hope to establish a community fund to help raise funds for "the basics those living with disabilities lack, the wipes and diapers, as well as the technologies to assist them to engage in the community." Call 277.4514 or email www.lifedesigns.org.

Baking Signs

There were two signs outside Emily's Bakery last weekend--a newly installed bright yellow sign advertising "Emily's: Good Things To Eat"and a homemade black-lettering-on-pink-bed-sheet sign reading "Emily Reilly's votes hurt the poor"--the latter displayed by homeless activists Becky Johnson and Rabbi Chayim Levin, who were picketing the bakery in response to what they say is owner and Santa Cruz City Councilmember Reilly's "half-baked motion to instruct city staff to police 'infractions' in the area of the riverbed of the San Lorenzo--which includes the drug- and alcohol-free Camp Paradise--as well as her recent motion to install 5­7am no-parking signs along a road in the Harvey West Industrial Park commonly used by homeless people in their vehicles."

Councilmember Mark Primack, who along with fellow councilmembers Scott Kennedy and Christopher Krohn voted against Reilly's motion, said the sign was "unfair and counterproductive. Emily's voting record on housing and social services shows she's not against the poor."

Primack did admit to being as confused as everyone else as to whether Reilly's motion signaled an immediate clamp-down on Camp Paradise, which at the time of going to press had not been visited by the police.

To add to the confusion, Councilmember Keith Sugar voted for enforcement while moving to develop an emergency plan for evacuation of the camp in the event of a flood. Sugar also moved to exclude all greenbelt areas--where an estimated 600 people already camp illegally--from consideration.

Though Ed Porter initially suggested exploring a 3-acre site on the edge of the 612-acre Pogonip greenbelt, he too must have got his messages mixed, because he squashed his own idea, voting instead to pass a motion to explore sites at Delaveaga Park, Harvey West Park and the San Lorenzo Benchlands, where homeless members of the newly formed Santa Cruz Service Corps could camp for 30 to 60 days in areas they are employed to restore.

The council also voted to investigate allowing the newly established SCSC--which hires homeless people to "enhance the natural environment and quality of life in the Santa Cruz area through engaging neighborhoods, community groups and government agencies in the design of ecological restoration and neighborhood improvement projects"-- to set up HQ on a city-owned Coral Street site.

The SCSC has already chalked up several successes, the most recent on Oct. 27, when Camp Paradise residents (wearing SCSC T-shirts), in conjunction with "Make a Difference Day," helped a city-sponsored cleanup along Branciforte Creek to Ocean Street. Camp Paradise lawyer Paul Sanford hopes the hours clocked up by campers will count as community service hours in an anticipated deal with the city over tickets incurred this summer.

Postal Roulette

A month ago, Nüz was repeating the joke that you have a greater chance of being crushed by a vending machine while you're purchasing a packet of Skittles than of contracting anthrax. But with three dead from anthrax-infested letters, 15 confirmed cases and thousands of postal employees urged to take antibiotics, and many more in the media and government offices, the odds of winning at postal roulette just got worse.

With more tainted letters possibly out there, what's our local post office doing to protect us? USPS spokesperson Gus Ruiz of San Jose says samplings will be done at all their mail-processing areas nationwide. Says Ruiz, "The West Coast, including San Jose [which processes mail for Santa Cruz], is on the list, but no dates for sampling are available." The USPS also plans to install "e-beam" (electron beam) machines to sterilize anthrax spores in unopened mail, but what happens if you receive mail from Washington, D.C., Trenton, N.J. or New York City? Envelope paper pores are about 100 times larger that anthrax spores--meaning that envelopes offer zero protection. And if anthrax spores were detected in San Jose or Santa Cruz, would entire buildings be closed down and cleaned? Ruiz says if anthrax is detected, "a strict protocol of isolation of mail and area and evacuation is followed."

"I don't trust Postal Service management, not a bit," says American Postal Workers Union San Jose Area Local no. 73 president Ed Peralta. "They don't treat us like human beings. We're just shopping carts to them."

USPS has purchased 86 million pairs of gloves made of vinyl and nitrile (some people are allergic to latex) and 8511-model respirators made by 3M, which filter particles down to 0.3 microns (about three times smaller than the smallest anthrax particles) at 95 percent efficiency.

Local mail carrier Sheila Payne isn't using masks or gloves, though she says over 25 percent of her colleagues are. "I hold my mail. I'm not afraid. We're on the West Coast in a small town" says Payne, upset that "people in Congress were immediately tested, but it took postal workers dying before they were taken seriously. Those facilities should have been closed."

With the volume of first class mail having dropped 50 percent because of email, Payne understands the post office doesn't want to alarm people. "But I'm afraid they'll mess it up. They're irradiating the mail now,but they should get on the stick and close infected facilities," she says.

Up in Coke

The news Tuesday (Oct. 30) that Coca-Cola wants to buy Odwalla was like hearing that Darth Vader wants to snack on an ewok. Odwalla CEO Stephen Williamson wasn't available for comment, but Zack Liske, Santa Cruz sales and operation manager, said Odwalla's staff has been told there will be no layoffs and that Odwalla will remain a separate company with Williamson at the helm.

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From the October 31-November 7, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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