Writer celebrates local institution, protests Humboldt County Building Department’s attempt to wipe out much of it – Redheaded Blackbelt


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Charles Garth in front of one of Yeehaw’s structures and a Maypole. [Photo by William Maderas]

YeeHaw is a 12-acre village in Trinidad east of 101 and a bit upstream from a century-old rock quarry. It is built on the remains of the Trinidad train station. The place is scented with the past. There are stumps of redwoods that must be seventeen or eighteen feet in diameter, some with shoots that are already tall trees, and others, slowly decaying, breathtaking, silent reminders of what once was. Ferns line the paths through the forest, in August, a multitude of ripe blackberries and cascades of greenery. The place has the prevailing calm yet able to summon an untouched redwood forest. It is a truly enchanting place to live, and a lot of people live there. Some have been around for a long time, like the owner, Charles Garth, who arrived 35 years ago, and Jack Nounan, an 88-year-old Korean War veteran. Charles allows virtually everyone to stay for three days, sometimes longer if they are willing to contribute something to the community. It is also a place of healing. A woman lived there with her family, was forced to leave for a while for lengthy cancer treatment, and then returned to recover. Charles described her to me, while she was sitting one day in the dappled sun, with a rabbit on her knees: “she was transfigured, you know, so peaceful, like the Madonna”. The Shire is going to destroy this peaceful village if it can. I remember a similar effort, made decades ago, to eradicate the ‘homecoming’ culture that arose in Humboldt, when people from the areas more populated, exhausted by the ordeals of the Vietnam War, civil rights, displacement and other constraints of the time, determined to live by example, bought farmed land cheaply from Humboldt and built farms. When the county started tagging their homes, a wave of resistance materialized, calling themselves United Stand Humboldt. A public hearing filled the Muni, with many eloquent speeches and standing ovations. The marking has stopped. Yeehaw has already withstood an assault in 2008. The county called the attack an anti-drug raid, despite Yeehaw’s drug-free policy. However, as the law enforcement officials were violent, firing guns at a woman and young children, the assault grabbed the headlines, sparking outrage, and… they had to back down.

This time, the county’s lethal guns are license violations.

Charles in front of one of a school bus that shelters him. [Photo by Nikki Norris]

Charles Garth in front of an old and revamped school bus that serves as a shelter. [Photo by William Maderas]

There is a lot of. Old vehicles, some fantastically modified, with picturesque roofs and bridges with fruit trees. Almost all the houses are built by their owners or built by the villagers and are works of art. Only one has a license. There are materials that the county classifies as solid waste, but are actually in the community’s queue for building or repair materials, garden fencing, and other practical uses. Most of the structures on site are made from recycled materials. . A house is lined with salvaged computer cases. There is a stock of old oak tongue and groove floors from Eureka Station. Some materials have become art, like a collection of fancifully stacked old toilets and a satellite disc studded with mirrors that also occasionally serves as a solar oven. Charles racked up fines for his offenses which he said amounted to $ 62,500. Planning department director John Ford told him he planned to foreclose the property in payment for ever-escalating penalties and fines. on what is essentially a peaceful village is as outrageous as the guns of 2008. Although the county has made vague promises of temporary housing for people whose homes it is about to raze, in the long run, many ‘between them will find the streets. Most of them simply will not find the type of employment that allows them to pay the rents required by “low income” housing. In the streets, of course, they run a much greater risk of illness or misfortune than living in this rustic and peaceful place. If they remain in the street, their lifespan will decrease by 25 years on average, because statistically, this is the price of homelessness for our fellow citizens.

In Yeehaw, this risk does not exist. People are dry in winter. They help each other in the event of a shortage. Sanitation is as good as in the city, and the risk of something falling on their heads as low.

Outrage is the destruction of culture. These villagers have it. It was perhaps a richer culture before the 2008 crisis, the trauma of which drove many families with children away. But there have been Maypoles for thirty-five years, a few of them are still standing. There is evening

circles with guitars and vocals. There are monthly meetings. There is an eleven-sided community center, one side of which can be lowered to form a stage for theatrical performances. The center has an assortment of instruments (Yeehaw has electricity), and while I was there a group of teenagers and children got together and started improvising jazz.

The interior of one of the shared spaces. [Photo by Nikki Norris] Yeah

The interior of one of the shared spaces contains musical instruments. [Photo by Nikki Norris]

It’s cultural genocide, this savage wrenching in an idyllic forest refuge with a giant, relentless shovel, scooping up human dwellings and pushing rubble into a dumpster. Houses at the landfill! It connotes, on the part of the county, an obsessive-compulsive adherence to a rigid framework of complex regulations that allow it to persecute whomever it wants, motivated by interests of profit, sadism and revenge, directed towards minimum carbon- imprint, non-materialistic lifestyle. The county should cherish this community and the people it is home to. He should, in a friendly and friendly manner, offer to help with any repairs that are of real concern to him. Many people go through periods in their lives when they need the quiet of the forest, the relaxation of civic demands, sometimes just to grow up. During her thirty-five years, Yeehaw has been home to lawyers, teachers, artists, and many other socially valuable citizens. Veteran Jack Nounan spends his days roaming the streets of Eureka, looking for people he can help. When I worked as a medical assistant at Open Door, for several decades, it brought many sick or confused people through the door for medical treatment or advice. It only does good, and where it’s needed most. Charles too. The county is definitely the villain of this play. Instead, he should celebrate Yeehaw’s contribution to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness in Humboldt. Ellen E. Taylor

UPDATE 8:38 am: Yeehaw holding “BBQ, Blockade and Carnival” from today to stop the demolition


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