Reading this morning’s Union I couldn’t help but notice the front page piece (paywalled here) on Sierra Roots and the Common Ground Homeless Garden. The project is the handiwork of former Nevada City mayor Reinette Senum. Its objective is to help down and out people in the county to have “a safe place for some of Nevada County’s homeless people, especially veterans, to sleep, grow food, hone skills and learn about healthy living while receiving guidance and resources to rebuild their lives.”
Reinette told me about her idea for launching this project almost two years ago over coffee. And this morning’s report is testimony for her having stuck with the project and getting it out the gate. The Union piece is a little scattered on the progress and benefits generated to date, but the overall sense one gets is that things are on their way toward the outlined objective. I want to congratulate Reinette in her persistence and for her hard work. This beats some of her other attempts at getting enterprises like community banking into our county.
My only lingering concern is that she has a solid plan forward for Sierra Roots that outlines realistic operations and long-lasting sources of cash, whether from government, charity, private donors, and/or generated revenues. The project will have legs only if early on it is recognized for what it is. In any event, no one wants to see Sierra Roots become an attractant for the homeless, drawing more indigents from far and wide with promises of a lifestyle that cannot be delivered.
In the past Reinette has described this enterprise as becoming a going concern that will raise and sell its produce locally at prices which provide a “living wage” to the people who will live and work there. I’m not sure what set of numbers will demonstrate that level of agricultural production in Nevada County, but starting out with county funded commuting for bringing in day labor doesn’t speak well for sustainability.
In any case, these are hopefully temporary accommodations that will be worked out. Reinette is an energetic, good-hearted, and dedicated woman who has demonstrated her ability to inspire people to launch into many kinds of community projects. Let’s wish her every success as she goes on to build Sierra Roots into what we all would like to see as a movable feast that can be replicated in other places to give a hand up for the country’s homeless.