On Saturday, I evicted someone from their home. Or I think I did. It’s a little hard to tell when home is a blanket, a single shoe, a filthy t-shirt, five large Budweiser cans, a yellow disposable razor, two Kit Kat wrappers, and a used syringe. All of it under a bush. 

It didn’t feel good, I can tell you that, and I’ve had to do it weekly since Dixie and I have started teaching again. Our business is the Fun Institute. Pre-pandemic, we taught adult improv classes at a sweet black box theater. But, like all theaters, it’s shut down until… well, that’s the big question isn’t it? 

But we had a huge tribe! We were almost like a church. Every Saturday morning, we filled that theater full of good-natured adults willing to fail in public, (that’s one definition of an improvisor); adults eager to play and create stories together (another definition.) 

So, when churches and gyms got the okay to carry on in limited fashion here in Santa Cruz, Dixie and I figured, The Fun Institute is kind of a cross between the two, why not figure out a way to raise some spirits in these dark times? Thus was mask-wearing, temperature-taking, socially-distanced, parking-lot, small-class improv created. It’s not the same, obviously, but it does scratch the itch. We’ve been at it for five weeks now, and I can honestly say, for those two hours, I laugh. 

But there’s a darker side. In preparation for these classes, Dixie and I have to go down and clean up the area. Due to its geographical history, it’s always been a nice private spot for people down on their luck to do… whatever. The geographical history I’m referring to is the 1918 earthquake, which created a sinkhole where the Art League, home to The Broadway Playhouse, now sits. It’s why the artists could afford to buy the land. Because it was a sinkhole! My point being, the building rests just a short stairway down from the sidewalk, making it a good place to get a little privacy. It also boasts a lovely garden setting. 

Now, with the building shuttered, with homelessness booming, and in the wake of the horrendous CZU fire that burned 925 residences making homelessness even more of an issue, the garden has become even more of a hangout. 

Homelessness. Do you see it in your neighborhood? We have whole tent cities here in Santa Cruz. Like the Hoovervilles of the 1930s, only these are…what? Trump Estates? I dunno. I don’t think we can blame everything on Trump. Although, I will say, he hasn’t done much to help the situation, and, in my humble opinion, has made it worse.

But who did I evict on Saturday? What kind of life are they leading, shooting up under the bushes like that, leaving just one shoe? It’s a lot for this heart to hold. 

Whoever you are, I hope you have a home, and know your purpose. I hope you have love. Your health.

In the meantime, Dixie and I will continue cleaning up the garden each week and providing a little joy. 

That’s it for today. Remember to live the love. It’s all we’ve got.


  1. Thank you for posting this. The homeless situation down here in LA is really rough. We belong to ministry who serves a grab and go lunches to the homeless once a month in a city park. I feel good helping them out. I want to see these people get back on their feet. They have touched my heart in so many ways.


  2. Wow, Cliffi. Currently, downtown Denver is struggling with how to help those who are houseless, and it’s something that I think about quite a bit, as I’m trying to educate myself more on how to be a better ally for marginalized peoples, and this is one of those issues that intersects with so many others. Thanks for writing this.


  3. There are three encampments near me within a block of my apartment building. They’re all under the freeway. CalTrans evicted the largest a couple of weeks ago. I was shocked when I walked by to see a big fenced-in empty area. (I haven’t been out much during the pandemic.) Some moved to the city sidewalk, and others to the other encampments. I hope some managed to get housed in the trailers and sheds the city is providing here in Oakland. I don’t have much money, so the best I can do is be a friendly face and listen. There are a large number of elderly women in these camps who just want to chat with someone.


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