/ Ah!! Que Suerte La Mia

Walk 7-22-2018

Dan Benavidez

We had over a year ago walked in this this mobile home neighborhood off 9th avenue and Mike said to me we must go back in these low income neighborhoods to continue to listen to the neighbors and tell them that they BELONG! This neighborhood is one of Longmont’s poorest neighborhoods and oh my how I felt so deeply saddened going there again to personally witness once again the tough living conditions there even though most living there are doing okay. I did however feel so good after we talked to the young couple who have recently and within the past years went through a world of hell much because of their own doing however not totally because of their own doing and are basically sleeping in their car at least for now but never the less are and have been recovering and from all they said will be doing okay with the very little they have. I also felt oh so good talking to the Latino man who has been in Longmont for 40 years sitting on his porch who spoke no English does not drive a car but is so happy with his life, his mobile home and is a happy camper. And all the Latinos when asked by Chief Butler had they ever been discriminated against said empathetically said NO!

And when asked had they ever had contact with the Police many said no but one who said yes, that he had contact with the police over a minor license issue and he said he was treated very nicely, and with respect and since he only spoke Spanish that the Police officer even had an interpreter to help him.

Ah!! que suerte la mia (What luck mine) to still be able to accompany our great Chief of Public safety Mike Butler on his Sunday neighborhood walks he indeed has started a “Belonging Revolution”  

And thank you so very much Rosie Briggs Eco Cycle - Zero Waste Out Reach for accompanying Chief Butler and me on our walk and thank you again ever so much for joining and helping me in the Spanish/ English/English Spanish Interpretations. 

Mike’s Perspective

We walked a neighborhood this last Sunday that has experienced significant police activity over the last few weeks including someone struggling with homelessness who overdosed and died from methamphetamine. There was a significant effort on the part of public safety staff to revive the man to no avail.

The neighborhood is great need of many resources. Several of the mobile homes are barely livable; there is a significant amount of trash within the mobile home park and the social tenor has considerable tension. And while the stories we have are indicative of relative ok-ness, there are several underlying concerns.

We met Lopez, who lives by himself and has resided in Longmont for forty years. An amicable man, Lopez was quite friendly and came with a big smile.

We met a couple who let us know they were being evicted from their mobile home and, for the time being, were going to live in their car. The woman has a self-admitted history with drug use. The man self-admitted he served time in prison. The compelling aspect of this visit for me was their positive perspective towards new possibilities for both of them. After we left them, the woman re-approached us and let us know of how the man had, on three separate occasions, saved the lives of others. She followed that up with an email to me identifying the circumstances of one of those life-saving efforts. She also said she would be willing to organize an effort in this particular mobile home park to make it a “drug free neighborhood.” Alas, they were being evicted, at least temporarily.

We met a group of four men living in the same mobile home. They shared stories of their lives with us including a time when one was stopped by local police.

There are certain neighborhoods in Longmont, and Dan and I can identify each of them, that seem to need more connection to the rest of the community and necessary additional assistance. Often, these neighborhoods can be marginalized by others in the community and either labeled a dangerous neighborhood or merely forgotten about. It is important that we somehow pay more attention for their sake and for the sake of our community. Dan and I will be following up on some ideas we have.

Occasionally, our Belonging Revolution brings us face to face with significant social issues. This was one of those occasions.

Rosie Briggs Eco Cycle - Zero Waste Out Reach - Walk 7/22/18

I walked with Dan and Chief Butler through Evergreen Mobile Home Park on Sunday, and although it was one of the poorest areas of Longmont I felt uplifted and safe the whole time. The first man that we spoke to described his life as “tranquilo”—and he truly seemed at peace with his lifestyle. He was very open to talking to us, and shared that he had been here 40 years and felt at ease in Longmont. He seemed excited to meet Dan and Chief Butler and went inside to put on a nice shirt and hat before taking a picture with us. We also talked to a couple who had encountered some trouble but were also very open with us about their story. Although the man had been in prison and the woman had used drugs in the past, they trusted the Chief and told him all about what they were dealing with. They were white but seemed to know their Latino neighbors well. The last group that we talked to were four men from Mexico, who were all enthusiastic and happy to talk to us. Like the first man we spoke to, they didn’t feel as though they were discriminated against, and although one of them had been pulled over recently for having expired plates he reported having a positive experience with the police and their translator. All of the Spanish-speakers were very receptive and kind, even when I’m sure my translations were less than perfect. Dan and Chief Butler both certainly have a sense of authority about them, but no one seemed intimidated at all, and were eager to talk to them. The woman that we spoke to about 20 minutes earlier even ran to catch up with us as we were leaving, to tell us more about her story and get more information about the programs offered nearby. Seeing these interactions inspired me, and I left with a feeling of great hope and faith in community.