Vladimir Tolskiy

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Grower of the Sustainable Future.

I would like to build a world where everyone is a welcomed and a productive member of their community.

My petitions:

"Let The Voice of Lived Experience Into Local Social Services"

http://chng.it/DVTnkQ9n 

"Make Poverty Simulation a Rite of Passage to hold Public Office"
http://chng.it/VbH2Pqqxvd

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Based on a post “America Needs Humble “Public Servants” and New Efficiency Metrics to Optimize the Welfare System.” of 3 Apr 2020

American welfare system is in a deep crisis. To emerge from this crisis, we need more peer-run recovery centers, mental hospital diversionary respites and other recovery facilities which would be operated by the people with lived experience for the people with lived experience. This implies a transfer of power that cannot occur without vigilance, solidarity and cooperation in the national movement for the people with lived experience.

In order for changes to occur, American peers need to work together, as a well-orchestrated national front and to aid each local group of active peers in pursuit of the following goals:

  1. Peers represent themselves in a county, municipal and state and federal governments

  2. Peers defend labor rights of peers

  3. Peers collect their own data to support expansion of peer services

  4. Peers create a media presence that enables

                                          them to speak directly to the public (taxpayers) and to demonstrate positive outcomes 

Fair Representation and Survivability.

 In order to bring on economically and socially favorable conditions for peer support, peers need to find a way into the local governments. Many brave individuals made attempts to do it single-handedly or in very small groups, in their hometown. Yet their attempts often meet immense resistance, causing them to give up or to wait indefinitely. Such undertakings require strong peer support, as well as courage.

The National peer community has to develop a standard approach to allow peers to gain representation in their local government, without having them to rediscover the peath individually, every time. It is like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a boat instead of trying to swim across individually.

What would it take to organize a hub to coordinate the advancement of peers in the local governments?

Peers representing peers

As people with lived experience, many of us rode in the back seat for many years. Powers at being instinctively defend their privileges and assets by retaining a parental role over weaker, traumatized people. This, in turn, works against our attempts to recover and to become fully-integrated members of the American middle class, and to propagate the idea of peer support.

This is why it is in our best interest to dismantle the old “doctor”/”patient”, professional “helper” / dependant “helpee” relationships that dominated the mental health industry for centuries, holding many thousands of clients in obedience and constraint.

Survivability

Survivability is important to track down a vulnerable group that needs the most help. It would also counteract covert hostility and endangerment of minority groups by negligence, as well as by deliberate misplanning of the services.

Survivability is often used in medical brochures, when we read about the chance of recovery from a certain type of cancer within the next 5 years, after surgery and chemotherapy.

What about a chance of survival for a colored transsexual person who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, in the next 5 years, at a specific location, as a client of that location’s welfare services?

Survivability - based determination of need would allow us to protect vulnerable groups, in different areas: CSX, LGBTQ, BIPOC, refugees, PTSD veterans, or single working poor men who don’t have time to get “handouts” from the charities as they have to work. It would also help identify the most vulnerable age groups.

Survivorship bias is introduced if only grateful/ successful customers of the welfare or mental health establishment are allowed to speak about their experience with the system. The accounts of single poor men and LGBT people are commonly omitted. Tracking of survivability would also help prevent rehospitalizations and recidivism. It would decrease mortality among the patients and decrease the burden on the emergency medical services.

Diminishing role of volunteers

As the gap between rich and poor in America is increasing, the volunteers no longer represent the poor, welfare-dependent population. It takes more and more resources to dedicate oneself to uncompensated work, as the cost of living raises, particularly rent in my hometown. (The gap could be healed if tax laws favored barter over monetary trade, thus encouraging communal relationships)

In my hometown of Frederick Maryland, many  volunteer — governed boards of the key welfare organizations fell into the hands of pro-gentrification forces and no longer represent the interests of the clients. Reforming the system to accommodate for the changes in the economy presents another challenge to our movement and hopefully another subject to reforms, yet it is our duty to spread awareness for this reform to occur.

Peers in the government

In order for peers to leverage reforms that would help advance the peer movement, we need to learn how to represent ourselves in the federal, state, municipal and county governments, (suggested name: “National Association for the Advancement of Peers”),  In conjunction with the National School of Grant-Writing, a national umbrella organization can aid peers in sharing their experience with other local groups. Maryland State-level effort to bring peers into politics could also be improved.

What can Peers do in the local government:

Administer Local Welfare

  • Define the level of need.

    • sincere, open, negotiable priorities of who we help first, instead of traditional throttling of poor people with waiting lines, humiliation and disrespect of personal time

    • strive to create an objective, agreed upon, universal scale to determine levels of need

    • possibly prevent covert hostility, microaggression, hate towards vulnerable groups which inevitably occurs in the current patriarchal system, especially if some corrupting economic force is present. (Typically, as a political effort to eradicate a problem population to increase the real estate value in the area.)

  • Review complaints, provide various forms of immunity / protection to complainants (especially if they are homeless and/or completely depend on the services for survival)

  • Communicate with other regions about the solutions that they implement.

Study the Population

  • Conduct a study ”United Way style”, researching vulnerable population’s needs. 

  • Analyze efficiency of services (R1),(R2), peer support to save taxpayer money on services, while presenting results directly to the taxpayers.

  • Work with the city transportation services to design routes that would serve the recovering population.

Advance the expansion of Peer-run services

  • Advocate for the interests of the peer-run programs, peer-staffed services as well as peers themselves, as workers. Develop new services, such as mental hospital diversionary respites which would be staffed by peers. 

  • Exchange experience with other peers in other regions.

  • Encourage participation of peers in the local government

  • Counteract Gentrification and Development lobby that perceives vulnerable populations as an easy target, those who drive down the values of real estate, can be easily expelled by increase in rent and harsher policing.

We can accomplish all this if we are a strong National movement with communication between multiple, local, groups that work simultaneously. It is easy to choke one such local effort, yet if national movement occurs, the change will become more expected by the local government establishments. It would not add to their popularity of the local authority to resist such progress.


Economic Justice for Peers.

Peers and Basic Human Needs.

Peers already lost their physical and mental health due to the oppressive forces that extracted surplus labor from them and their ancestors, to the point where their life was endangered. Thus, in order to prevent further traumatization of people with lived experience, working as peer supporters, economic justice has to be made a priority.image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=118&dpx=1&t=1588615802

Caseworkers and Certified Peer Recovery Specialists

When caseworkers were first introduced, they were members of vulnerable populations and many had lived experience themselves. Later, formal training had replaced the first-hand knowledge of how to navigate the system.

Currently, peers with lived experience know how to navigate the system better than many other types of specialized welfare workers, while often not being paid in accordance to their level of experience. Peers at high levels of recovery would be much more effective if they were paid enough to be able to afford rent in the municipality where they work, and not financially marginalized. It is difficult to help others for someone who remains in survival mode, despite their best efforts.


Peers and Labor Movement

People with lived experience cannot be expected to perform in an insecure, competitive environment that a typical (disposable) worker has to endure in a fully commercial business. it is also more difficult to determine the worth of a peer in a peer recovery center, compared to the efficiency of an assembly line worker. Peers tend to work as a crew and the crew has to have the right to enlist and expel members in order to function like an adaptive organism.

What may be ethical in a standard business practice, will often bring more trauma to a peer employee and will compromise their performance. People with lived experience get excited when they get the position, and become very depressed when they lose it. It undermines their self-esteem and greatly impedes their recovery. Limited funding often forces peer organization directors to fire and rehire peers in order to stay within the budget. At the same time, directors tend to receive a secure middle-class wage and this creates a barrier of understanding between the captain and an ordinary crew member, who works and lives with fear of being tossed overboard.

Such a workplace becomes very competitive, overwhelmed with envy, and fear of losing income. Relationships between peers become less fraternal and more back-stabbing.

Only worker solidarity among the peer employees, and a collective struggle for secure employment can allow people with lived experience to hold positions long enough to enable them to recover and to grow, as well as to negotiate for more funding.

Peer recovery centers are one of the rare cases where the directors would benefit from labor organization of the workplace, as there would be less pressure on them to perform under restrained finances.


School of grant writing

Understanding of grant writing by peers will heal the gap between rich and poor in the welfare sector.  If peers bring money into their organizations, they would become more horizontal and peer run, decreasing the potential for manipulation through funding.

Presently, grant writing is a secretive and competitive trade. Learning it, requires a level of financial security, which is often unattainable for people in higher levels of recovery, who could otherwise do the job. Thus, they find themselves excluded from major financial decisions that affect the security of their employment and integration of peer services into the welfare sector.

It would also serve us to share our experiences of applying for grants, with the national peer movement, in order to understand how the system varies from state to state and how we can coordinate our efforts to improve it. It has been suggested that public safety grants are worth looking into, along with mental health grants, that peer support organizations typically apply for.

I would like to start a National Grant-writing School for peers, by gathering all the knowledge and experience of our National community in one place.

Perhaps, the first assignment is to find grants for interested participants to fly to one location and to hold a conference.


Hiring Consultants

Can peers be hired as consultants? What are the labor laws that govern the hiring of consultants? Do they vary from state to state? What restrictions apply to hiring consultants by a non-profit? How can peers benefit from this practice? Can this allow peer recovery centers to navigate around book-keeping restrictions?

Answering those questions, as well as the institution of a National Grant Writing school would pave our way to success in the post-coronavirus quarantine economy.


Gap between rich and poor, within the welfare sector itself.

Welfare-affiliated nonprofit organizations often spend most of their budget on salaries for the staff, rent and insurance. Very little money remains for the programs themselves. Peer support organizations are not an exception.

This appears to be a cultural problem, as directors are expected to receive an upper-middle class wage with benefits, while the poor are expected to get breadcrumbs and to be grateful. Lower-level staff, often composed of people with lived experience, also receives very little pay or recognition. The gap between rich and poor within the welfare sector itself, certainly doesn’t make America’s safety net more efficient.

It is perceived as an industry standard that a typical non-profit organization spends around 60% on administration. The ratios vary from industry to industry. Different publications state ratios obtained by slightly varying methods, making them hard to compare.  This makes the American welfare system very demanding and inefficient, leaving very few resources to maintain a healthy peer culture.


Two ratios to compare equity of employees and service output.

Federal law requires all construction thermal insulation to be labeled with a thermal coefficient ‘R’, in order to protect buyers from commercial trickery. Can we do the same to prevent non-profit trickery that costs us so much in taxes and in human lives, making our safety net so unreliable?

Can we measure how much money is spent on wages vs. how much money is spent on programs and mandate that each welfare-affiliated organization has to publish this ratio next to their name?

Can we also require state grant-receiving non-profits to publish the income gap ratio between their lowest-paid and their highest-paid employee?

Otherwise, pathetic pictures of cute kittens, puppies and starving children would always be used to manipulate donors, politicians and voters, while our taxes would not be used to strengthen the safety net. This tendency does not favor peer support.


Reporting Positive Outcomes.

Building a system that rewards positive outcomes

In order for peer services to gain recognition that they deserve, we need to advocate for a system of productivity metrics that reward positive outcomes, not headcount.

Grants come with Conditions of Award, which often require numbers that show how many people were served. Yet, often that creates no incentive to measure client satisfaction or positive outcomes.

Meanwhile, peer recovery centers could benefit a lot from consensual methods of documenting positive outcomes. Such organizations have a hard time proving their usefulness in the system that values easily obtainable numbers.

Despite the burden of scientific evidence that peer support helps people recover and the commitment of peers, peer support remains underappreciated and underfunded.

Eventually, there is a fear within the establishment that peer support will lead to a new Civil Rights movement. We encounter a lot of roadblocks as many traditional professionals are afraid that we would no longer not need them and that the cash flow to them, on our behalf, would end.

Many thriving welfare services resemble a cattle drive: herding clients through and counting heads becomes a priority that the services are optimized for. This marginalizes the role of peer support.

There are two more metrics that could help optimize our welfare and healthcare here in Frederick County, Maryland, as well as in the entire United States of America:

1) How many clients have given up, knowing how difficult it would be to obtain a service.

2) How many clients went on another loop, out of despair.

The latter is very important in the mental health world, if used against the regular headcount.

These may be guidelines of the World Health Organization, yet I could not confirm that. Please write to me, if you know their origin.

Such metrics would also create an incentive to help clients achieve self-sufficiency and graduate from the programs and into productive life. They can also decrease the loopiness that an average client experiences, along with the operational costs. It is in the interest of the peer supporters to push for such metrics to be used by the overall welfare system.

How can we expect people to recover if the system itself is so loopy?

User feedback survey.

I also suggested that our County could obtain vital feedback by making follow up phone calls and asking clients of the 211 phone services about their experience and the usefulness of the advice that they were given. Can 211 be made into a peer-run service?

Peer Media Presence.

As we successfully build a more peer-centered version of the welfare system in America, we need to  encourage the struggling, alienated people with lived experience by showing our success in the media.

Such presence can be accomplished if our community learns how to secure specialized media presence grants and to acquire the necessary skills and equipment to record video and to publish media posts about our success.

I believe that sufficient media presence would naturally emerge from us documenting positive outcomes, after we negotiate for a better way to report our outcomes to the funders, on the terms that suit the peer support industry.

Thus, it would not require a significant diversion of resources to show some of our positive outcomes to the general public which sustains the welfare system by paying taxes;  it would be a part of our job.

Local government reforms would go a lot smoother if there is a media background that presents those reforms as ever-present and simultaneously occurring across the entire Nation.

Help me bring those propositions to life!

I wrote this as I felt an obligation to all the people who “cried on my shoulder” and shared their stories with me, out of despair. My impression of the system’s faults was based on those accounts, as well as on my personal experience.

I set my mind on writing this article and addressing a national peer support community, after I found very little local support with those ideas.


The information about nonprofit economics originates from internal sources which I am unable to disclose.

My assessment of the apparently national problem is based on a network of personal sources, located in Frederick, as well as at the other, primarily Maryland locations.


https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQJ8CBAOCJsxOt5OssIBbDlRYbocAZcYKimt5Mo4Rv5Y2ObOIzQ9BTmfGORBCH6NXHOSc41E2_OvE5i/pub

Follow this link to access the Google Document with the article, which contains the original formatting.
This document will update automatically, while the post has to be updated manually, resulting in delays in the updates.

 

I am looking for a supportive environment to build a multi-faceted educational project that would spark an interest in self-sufficiency and sustainability, within the community that hosts it.

I would like to build an exhibit to offer many people a clear vision of what to aim for, what to strive for and what to fight for.

This project can be a simple museum, organized in a shop space, an urban maker-space/hackerspace that would be dedicated to the development of green technology, or an entire village with residents:

it all depends on the vision of of the hosting community, as well as the resources that would be available for the project.

Ideally, the project would consist of a net-zero homestead with several residences that would support a modern Western standard of living. Land for a garden and an orchard, a greenhouse and a space for a hydroponic farm or a similar setup.

The project doesn’t need to be all about gardening or about engineering and technology: there is a balance between all trades that are required to achieve a net-zero way of life.

A commercial kitchen where fermentation and other food preservation techniques would be taught, is important for education. Beehives would also be useful.

Various commercial energy collection and recuperation systems can be exhibited at the homestead. Each subsystem of the net-zero homestead would be accompanied by an interactive computer demonstration to show how it works.

There would be animations of the thermodynamic processes, as well as supportive engineering and economic calculations that justify their use. The education material will be written for various depths of study, so kindergartners and engineering students, alike, could learn from a field trip to the homestead.

The host, possibly a resident of the project, would guide visitors and demonstrate various parts of a sustainable homestead to them.

The homestead project would teach various aspects of sustainable living: It would demonstrate how to minimize one's impact on the environment. It would help bring awareness to where our food comes from,

where our water comes from, where our energy comes from and what happens to the materials once we are done using them.

For example, I would like to make an exhibit out of a composting toilet that would be fitted with a transparent wall.

I would also like to have a beehive with a transparent wall, similar to the one in the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Such homestead may also serve as a community center for local environmentalists. The structures can be a part of a large community garden.

Since the origin of  this project lies in my frustration about living in Suburbia for many years and realizing that it is a plastic desert, camouflaged with landscaping ornaments, my close friend suggested a good name: Project “Oasis”.

There is a burden of scientific evidence, from fields including psychology, epidemiology, environment, ecology and even grid engineering that tells us that if we all lived in agrarian settlements,

composed of such homesteads, if we erased the boundary between city and country, most of the problems of today’s American society would be gone.

There would be no air pollution from traffic, no child obesity, no places for crime to take place and no Roundup would end up in our waterways.

We could slow down or stop climate change. And we would be much better prepared for a climate emergency to come as our dependence on the grid would be minimized.

What keeps us from creating a portrayal of this dream in flesh, in brick-and-mortar, a place for good beginnings to take root?

What would it take for such outposts of sustainable living to be established nationwide?

Can we create such exhibits in every community around the World, to serve as beacons, to inspire people for a positive change, to uphold a collective vision of the solution to many acute problems of our day and age?

The Objective of the Project “Oasis”: To show the suburbanites that a better, more relaxing, healthier, safer and less depleting way of life is possible and what to pursue to make it happen.

Help this project by arranging it into a proposal for your municipal or county government. Please share this proposal so we can improve it and submit it to our governments.



Real Estate required

Scalability and adaptability of the project is important as communities have different resources available.

A floor in a multi-story building can be converted to a sustainability museum that would explain energy transfers and economics behind them.

An empty plot of land may be developed with a residential structure, a greenhouse and a large area for a garden.


Goals

  • To showcase a model of energy efficiency: solar panels, green house, solar and heating systems, etc.

  • To strive for net-zero, zero carbon footprint.

  • To serve as a model of sustainability where different techniques could be showcased

  • Demonstrate sustainable building technology, a commercial exhibit, a “smart house”— a display of energy harnessing, storage and recuperation systems.



  • Use Earth’s thermal mass.

  • Architectural symbiosis - combination of a house and a greenhouse.

  • Awareness of points of the compass, prevailing winds, soil drainage and other natural circumstances that are largely ignored by the architects of suburban developments.


Economics benefits

  • Allow for research and development of new, sustainable agricultural and construction techniques.

  • Support trades that decrease our impact on the environment.

  • Provide a fertile ground for sustainable businesses to flourish.

  • Teach what it really takes so build a sustainable economy, from a scaled version to an engagement of the entire community.

  • Influence local politics, make business law more friendly to sustainable business startups.

  • Educate civilians and politicians about the community-building qualities of the barter economy.

  • Serve as a hub for mutual aid and for time banking.

  • Demonstrate that it is possible to grow enough local food to cover the demand of the homestead. Teach best practices to do so.


Residents

  • Allow residents to give as much to the outside world as they receive from it.

  • Invite residents who would like to become voluntary experiment participants.

  • Allow those residents to use a commercial shop space that would be included in a complex; offer them a place for a trade: to exhibit their products, and to sell them.

  • Collect lots of user data.

  • Encourage residents to maintain a strong media presence.

  • Life of the community may be broadcasted as a TV show or as YouTube series.


Teaching facility

  • Conduct agricultural experiments that involve permaculture, aquaponics, hydroponics and other sustainable agricultural practices.

  • Publish all findings.

  • Invite grad students and academic researchers to participate.

  • A place where new building techniques can be worked out, new building code can be developed.

  • Education facility for school, career center or college students

  • The exhibit may serve as a teaching hub for homeschooling.

  • Explain thermodynamics behind the energy harvesting and recuperation systems, teach how real economic benefits can be obtained from such systems.

  • Teach about energy density and limits that shape our engineered world.

  • An educational YouTube channel would help spread the knowledge beyond the geographic location of the exhibit.

  • Operational composting toilet with a transparent wall — composting toilet manufacturer may fund the creation of this exhibit, as an advertisement.


Facilities / Activities to be supported

  • Community garden

  • Green house

  • Composting for the surrounding community

  • Meeting place for environmentalists and other activists

  • Spiritual worship

  • Permaculture, aquaponics, hydroponics, mushroom farming and other growing systems and educational demonstrations.

  • Build a sustainable ecosystem around this facility, a wildlife and human ecosystem

  • Pursuit of net-zero lifestyle within realistic economical boundaries

  • Wildlife and songbird sanctuary


Obstacles that I encounter in my hometown:

  • Zoning. Frederick County is gentrified rapidly. It is built over by tumors of inefficient suburban

  •     developments that mock some 19th century English town, while appearing severely out of context here in Appalachia. My vision may bring doubt to new homebuyers and would be seen as an interference with the prevailing ideology of the status quo by the investors.

  • Attitude of local politicians and people involved in the non-profit sector is that they would

  •     likely continue to ignore this idea or one day will take it over and turn it into profitable enterprises for themselves, excluding lower-income people from participation. There are examples of such ‘sustainable’ retreat enterprises in our county, both for-profit and nonprofit. As a result of        this takeover, I would have no access to this project and I would be granted no credit for it. Such things already happened to me in Frederick County, Maryland before and it was very painful to see my ideas serve the wrong people.

  • Frederick County is not very progressive and there is a very small interest in net-zero construction;

  •    several enthusiasts had unorthodox home designs approved and built on their properties. It doesn't sound like the most accepting place for such ideas. Even with widespread support of the community, it may take many years to amend the building code and to rezone land for the        homestead exhibit to be built. I am looking for a community that already has the tilled fertile soil to drop the seeds into.

#netzerohome #repurposed #solarenergy #solarpanels #passivehouse 

#solar #solarsystem #green 

#homestead #permaculture #permacultureuk #permaculturerocks

#greennewdeal #FFF #Climatestrike

While the present climate-related factions of our government have done a great job of protecting the environment of the Frederick County, specifically our waterways, their memberships are not very diverse.

In order for the Climate Emergency Mobilization Work Group to do its job, to prepare the entire population of Frederick County MD for a climate emergency, it has to be as diverse as possible: it has to represent as many different racial and cultural backgrounds and experiences as it can fit.

The present environmental faction of our county government appears to consist mainly of older property owners. There is no or very little presence of working poor, immigrants or disabled people; the amount of members who are not white is very small.

Are we expecting groups with such non-diverse and conformable memberships to make decisions that will benefit everyone equally?

A small amount of people that seem to be well-represented in our government, will survive the climate emergency in houses that they own. They have means to turn their homes into net-zero homesteads with solar power, install systems of energy recuperation and even to receive tax credit for doing so. They can also grow gardens on the land that they own and drive electric vehicles, powered from the solar panels.

Many of the people who are not well represented in our government will suffer from extreme weather, floods, droughts, soaring food prices and energy bills, blackouts, poverty and disease.

How likely is that the county police would be used to defend the resources of the few property owners from many impoverished residents of our county, who will be the most impacted?

Is this why the police buy all the surplus military weapons?

What would be the mortality rate among the people who presently live paycheck to paycheck?

While scientists are reporting that the melting of the Arctic ice has taken the worst-case scenario for this year, it may be wise for Frederick MD to prepare for a worst-case scenario as well.

Since many property-less poor people often live in old, poorly insulated townhouses and apartments that are heated by an electric heat pump and cooled by an electric AC and rely on electric water heaters, I would like to know the minimum and maximum outside temperatures that those parts of our infrastructure can withstand.

 

I am curious to know what happens if temperatures are extremely low or extremely high and everyone runs their heat or AC at maximum capacity. At what temperatures would we begin to have blackouts? Are there models for such scenarios and can we study them?

What average level of weatherization would be required to reduce those risks and what other steps can we take to prepare?

I have many similar questions, which are related to urban planning and infrastructural development.

The COVID close-down may be just a run-through for what the climate emergency reality would be like and there are many lessons to be learned from how our society handled it.

We are not yet in a state of a full climatic emergency, and it already feels as if our infrastructure is functioning at its maximum capacity, in so many ways.

Personally, I experienced a near-death experience twice in the past six years, while living in extreme poverty with a moderately impairing health condition.

In Frederick, our homeless population is very large, while the waiting lists for subsidized housing are several years long.

How would we handle the climate migration? How many migrants can we take aboard and where can we house them?

    

Our native poor workers cannot afford rent, while we continue to develop our country with very costly and inefficient housing units that require a loan to purchase. Houses that are being built do not have roofs that are optimized for solar power collection. What are they optimized for and why are they still approved for construction?

Many of our local welfare programs help poor families, yet do not consider the existence of single poor men with ill health, and are very strongly based on the obsolete gender roles that do not take the LGBT community into account. 

Things would go a lot smoother during an emergency if everyone was present at the table during preparation. Only a diverse government body would help me get answers to my questions.


A diverse team would lead to a greater experience from different cultures and backgrounds. The lifestyle that America pushes on people is one of the most resource-inefficient in the world.

I do believe that we can prepare for the emergency using rational data to predict mortality or survivability or probability of survival for different residents and groups within our community, just as I propose that we plan our social services.


Please invite more people of various backgrounds and lived experiences to apply for the https://forms.gle/XQGqsaKV93MFC6qe9





Dear Friends and Associates,


I am looking for ways to offer my lived experience to improve Frederick County social/welfare and health services.


In the past, I was extremely underserved, while suffering a severe health condition.

During my hardships, I sent letters to local officials and received very formal replies, or no replies at all,

while suffering the adverse effects of extreme poverty, combined with a very limiting health condition.


I realized that many people would continue to be received with indifference and neglect,

to suffer and die, if lived experience would remain so poorly represented in our county and state governments.


Presently, I am experiencing many glass walls and ceilings in my attempt to use my experience to save lives.

I need the support of our entire community in my attempt to set a historic landmark and to bring more people with lived experience into our government.


Otherwise, we are placed in the positions of higher probability of death (mortality rate) by an establishment that does not include our voice in it;

that resists including our voice.

Is this fair?


If you let me speak honestly,

it all feels like a subtle, yet steady genocide of non profit-bearing citizens who lost their ability to work due to ill health,

often as a result of previous exploitation, of them or their parents.

This process is mostly carried out by people who receive a salary from our tax money.


How would our elected and appointed officials like to be known to the future generations?

Would they like to be condemned as the last of the oppressors or celebrated as pioneers in the advancement of human rights?

Would our liberal politicians who make liberal statements in public, continue to defy their words with their subtle actions?


I would appreciate it if the suggestion where I need to apply to provide the best service to our community, comes from within the County Government itself.

Here is some material for reference to help them make this decision:

"How lack of affordable housing in Frederick delayed my recovery for five years."

https://wethepeople.care/page/view-post?id=399


Currently, I applied to serve on the Social Services Board.

I sent in a letter of interest and a resume.

I would like to either be officially approved for the service, by the Frederick County Government, or to receive an official letter of denial, explaining how I don't qualify for service.


About three years ago, I already applied to serve on the Mental Health Advisory Committee.

I sent in a resume and a letter of interest to Joyce Grossnickle, county employee, in charge of accepting such applications.

I waited for several months. Occasionally, I sent emails asking Joyce Grossnickle and other officials / county employees about the status of my application.


At some point I stopped receiving replies to my emails.

I neither got the seat, nor received a letter of denial, or any official statement, explaining why I did not qualify to serve in this position.


Back then, I was naive, my self-esteem was low and I allowed myself to be side-tracked.

Our City and County Governments do that very skillfully to discourage activists from seeking representation.


This time, I would like the story not to repeat itself.


I would like the Frederick County Government to send me an official letter of denial, explaining why I did not qualify to serve on the Mental Health Advisory Committee,

when I applied several years ago.


Please help me receive such a letter from our county government.


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail.


Sincerely,

— Vladimir Tolskiy


Dear Friends and Associates,


I am looking for ways to offer my lived experience to improve Frederick County social/welfare and health services.


In the past, I was extremely underserved, while suffering a severe health condition.

During my hardships, I sent letters to local officials and received very formal replies, or no replies at all,

while suffering the adverse effects of extreme poverty, combined with a very limiting health condition.


I realized that many people would continue to be received with indifference and neglect,

to suffer and die, if lived experience would remain so poorly represented in our county and state governments.


Presently, I am experiencing many glass walls and ceilings in my attempt to use my experience to save lives.

I need the support of our entire community in my attempt to set a historic landmark and to bring more people with lived experience into our government.


Otherwise, we are placed in the positions of higher probability of death (mortality rate) by an establishment that does not include our voice in it;

that resists including our voice.

Is this fair?


If you let me speak honestly,

it all feels like a subtle, yet steady genocide of non profit-bearing citizens who lost their ability to work due to ill health,

often as a result of previous exploitation, of them or their parents.

This process is mostly carried out by people who receive a salary from our tax money.


How would our elected and appointed officials like to be known to the future generations?

Would they like to be condemned as the last of the oppressors or celebrated as pioneers in the advancement of human rights?

Would our liberal politicians who make liberal statements in public, continue to defy their words with their subtle actions?


I would appreciate it if the suggestion where I need to apply to provide the best service to our community, comes from within the County Government itself.

Here is some material for reference to help them make this decision:

"How lack of affordable housing in Frederick delayed my recovery for five years."

https://wethepeople.care/page/view-post?id=399


Currently, I applied to serve on the Social Services Board.

I sent in a letter of interest and a resume.

I would like to either be officially approved for the service, by the Frederick County Government, or to receive an official letter of denial, explaining how I don't qualify for service.


About three years ago, I already applied to serve on the Mental Health Advisory Committee.

I sent in a resume and a letter of interest to Joyce Grossnickle, county employee, in charge of accepting such applications.

I waited for several months. Occasionally, I sent emails asking Joyce Grossnickle and other officials / county employees about the status of my application.


At some point I stopped receiving replies to my emails.

I neither got the seat, nor received a letter of denial, or any official statement, explaining why I did not qualify to serve in this position.


Back then, I was naive, my self-esteem was low and I allowed myself to be side-tracked.

Our City and County Governments do that very skillfully to discourage activists from seeking representation.


This time, I would like the story not to repeat itself.


I would like the Frederick County Government to send me an official letter of denial, explaining why I did not qualify to serve on the Mental Health Advisory Committee,

when I applied several years ago.


Please help me receive such a letter from our county government.


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail.


Sincerely,

— Vladimir Tolskiy


How I became involved

When the SNAP food market first appeared in Frederick, three years ago, I was grateful.

All of the sudden I could afford the produce!


Before that, I would eat mostly oatmeal as I couldn’t afford anything else that would fit the restrictions of my diet and would not make me sick. I have a digestive health-related illness and I spend a lot of time in pain. Poor diet makes my pain worse.


I became involved as a volunteer and I enjoyed the community around me: I was surrounded by residents of the public housing who were concerned about their health and wanted to eat healthy — very interesting people. Some mothers with little children would go there.


I was always passionate about redirecting the supermarket waste to the people who cannot afford to buy produce at the supermarket. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to organize such a food drive myself.


This was the time when I was so thankful to the Hungry Harvest program that I wanted to express it in a letter to the editor of the Frederick News-post.


After a little more then a year, the program relocated.

There weren’t many customers, this is probably why Frederick Public Housing handed “Produce in a SNAP” to the YMCA.


(SNAP stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” and it came to replace the term “Food Stamps”)



The new location

After the surplus produce market moved from the community center at the public housing project to a YMCA kitchen in Downtown Frederick, the profile of the market started to change.


There were more customers, yet a typical customer no longer paid with food stamps. Downtown Frederick is a food desert. However, the area where the market moved to has some of the highest real estate prices in the City.


Produce became more attractive and flawless, as in the supermarket.

Yet the fruits and vegetables also became more expensive than at Walmart or Costco.

I realized that I am volunteering at a market that no longer serves my people.


I can no longer afford the produce at the “Produce in a SNAP” and I no longer receive a generous share of leftovers that is not in a very good condition for my work.

I started to have a bitter aftertaste from volunteering there, as I felt like I am helping the wrong cause.


As someone who lives in poverty, I can barely afford the expenses associated with volunteering. Volunteering still creates food and transportation expenses, except that I don’t get paid for it. It also takes away my precious free time, time that I spend on many poor man activities: fixing things, patching my clothes.


I felt out of place, as I was distributing produce that I could not afford myself, to customers who are typically wealthier than I am.


If I buy bananas and pineapples at Walmart, as the only produce that I can afford, why wouldn’t I start volunteering at Walmart then?

How does this help poor people buy produce that they otherwise cannot afford to include in their diet? How does this service help prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses that are common with people who cannot afford greens in their diet.  How does it help me?

At the same time, it is still announced as a "Community Produce Market" by the Frederick YMCA.

I am already excluded from this community of people who can afford produce there. How many other members of the Frederick community have been excluded?

Possible Solution

Solving such problems always begins with feedback.


As upper middle class non-profit staff, with degrees and connections, fight for opportunities and grant money, they resemble feudal lords that fight for turf. Poor peasants, or people who rely on welfare and handouts only receive breadcrumbs from their lords.


If there were no turf wars and fear of losing control, the non-profit charities would be a lot more decentralized and open to the input of the poor people that they were originally created to serve. 


If poor customers served on the board of Hungry Harvest in sufficient quantity, or had a say in the management of Hungry Harvest, this shameful situation could be prevented.

(My repeated requests to become a board member in the organization were ignored.)


The problem can be solved if Hungry Harvest were to open a local hub in Frederick, with autonomy to run itself, staffed and managed by the low-income population. This would also help  eliminate supermarket waste here in Frederick.


This hub could purchase and accept donations of produce leftovers from local farms and supermarkets and distribute it at a low cost to those who cannot afford produce from other places.


Since “Produce in a SNAP” no longer helps the low-income population of Frederick afford surplus produce that is not good enough for supermarkets, at a discount, it may be a fair idea for the IRS to revoke the non-profit status of the “Hungry Harvest” and require it to pay taxes, as any other merchant would.


(I am judging by what I see here in Frederick MD.)


Sincerely,

—Vladimir Tolskiy

LINK TO PETITION —  http://chng.it/GdqBWGTcfz

Many of us experience a considerable disconnect between people who are living paycheck to paycheck and the public officials who are there to represent us.

Our public officials commonly lack the background and the experience of living in poverty, while it is very difficult for someone who lives paycheck to paycheck to become a politician.

Politicians are eager to "grow the local economy". They produce Napoleonic plans to build hotels, to develop fields, to build new roads and to make real estate more profitable.

All of this often comes at a great human cost that is often not accounted for, under the present social order. People who were hurt by those endeavors quickly fall through the cracks, losing their voice. They are flushed down the "poor people"/welfare/social service system, never to be seen again.

Once we lose our ability to work, we are driven out by high rent and replaced with more profit-bearing residents. Many of us feel insecure.

What is in it for us in this growth? More traffic? More people above us in the hierarchy? Longer lines at the soup kitchen?

Our social service safety net is almost non-existent. It can give out second-hand food, temporarily provide a bed in an overcrowded shelter: this is pretty much where it all ends. To get reduced rate healthcare, one would have to go to many organizations and to collect many papers: very difficult for people who work overtime and/or don’t have a car.

In order for our dear elected or appointed officials to understand how it is to survive paycheck to paycheck, how it is to be poor and not able to afford rent, how it is to not have a car, to be homeless, to depend on the handouts and the mercy of the system, a system that they lead, it may be wise to make poverty simulation a mandatory procedure, before they begin their duties, as public servants.

Poverty simulation can be a fun ritual where politicians would be going through the circles of hell of our "poor people services" completely anonymously, or in the full view of the public and cameras.

The first-hand experience may help them understand why people can be stuck in poverty for many years and give them a better understanding of how to improve our social services.

This educational experience needs to be written into our laws to help our politicians make more inclusive divisions, once they take office, and to behave as public servants.

LINK TO PETITION —  http://chng.it/GdqBWGTcfz  

LINK TO THE PETITION — http://chng.it/VmtDmV9XPb — Thank you for your support !!


Our Frederick, Maryland social services are governed almost entirely by people who have no lived experience of being clients of such services, themselves.

Neither are there any major attempts to bring people with lived experience on board or to ask what clients want: most of the decisions are based on an assumption about the needs of the vulnerable population, made by middle class staff and volunteers, (who can afford to volunteer.)

Such lack of representation leads to additional suicides, overdoses, patients that keep going back in a circle because organizations that provide services are reimbursed for head count and not for the positive outcomes.

Frederick is experiencing a humanitarian crisis which became even worse with the onset of the Coronavirus.

There is no official place for the community that uses social services, to provide feedback about their operation. Many of the people who rely on those services are too guilty or afraid to speak up; they are in a dependent position.

Also, when the programs are expanded, they are not necessarily improved in the interest of the clients.

We, the concerned citizens of Frederick Maryland, would like to see more representation of the people with lived experience in our City and County governments.

That may be done by the establishment of a dedicated government council or by the removal of subtle barriers and class ceilings that prevent, often poor and disadvantaged people with experiences in mental illness, homelessness, drug addiction, etc. to represent themselves in the government, when crucial decisions are made on behalf of services that were established to help them.

Whiteness protection to the people who report violations would also be important to make the process more democratic.

Please sign this petition to help the voice of people with lived experience to have a place in our government.

Send this petition to your friends: together we can change how our social services are governed.
Thank you!

 Sincerely,

— Vladimir Tolskiy

LINK TO THE PETITION  — http://chng.it/VmtDmV9XPb — Thank you for your support !!

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My Symptoms

I had several adverse childhood experiences and I grew up to have PTSD. Since the age 19, I suffered from a psychosomatic condition that made it very difficult and painful for me to work and go to college, as a typical American working poor student is expected to. I felt guilty for not being able to earn a living, and continued to work until my health could no longer tolerate it.

Yet for many years, I was ashamed of talking about my symptoms to anyone, including my mother who did not believe me for several years. Doctors gave formal replies and uninvolved explanations. For years, I felt that my calls for help had fallen on deaf ears.

My condition includes colon spasms, constipation, and rectal bleeding. I endure hours of pain. Sometimes I have burning and itching sensations that are even worse than pain. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, yet not much could be done about it, medically, without inducing side effects that are worse than the illness itself.

When I had spasms, I would experience intoxication very rapidly. I felt it in my head and as a burning sensation spread from my face throughout my body.  In a more extreme case, spasms lasted for many hours, my upper lip would begin to darken and crack. Rashes formed around my mouth. My lower back was immobilized by pain. In those instances, I began to feel very vulnerable and thoughts about suicide come to my mind.

My options at the time.

At the age of 23, I decided that I need a disability because I was not a competitive worker, especially in a society that does not have strong labor protection laws. I don’t have enough health to credit myself with, as American working poor are expected to. Work was all about being in pain and not showing that I have it to anybody. Otherwise, I will be replaced by a healthy worker. My condition had worsened and I was experiencing painful spasms all the time and I lost hope.

I did what seemed to be the most appropriate solution at the time: I knew that it was easier to get a mental disability. Thus, I got myself into a mental hospital, as I could no longer bear the pain that I had to endure while I worked and there was no hope to get out of it.

My mother finally acknowledged that I am unable to work and paid for a psychologist to prepare papers in such a way that I received my disability in less than a year.

There were several Catch 22s that I would be happy to describe in greater detail: to live independently, I needed a full SSI pension; yet to receive that amount, I had to live independently.

When I was 24 years old, I managed to leave my mother’s house, which was a toxic environment. Now I was at the mercy of the welfare system.


When this problem was solved, I received a little more than $700 and around $150 in food stamps, per month and I tried to rent a room with that money. I applied for various subsidized, assisted housing, yet no program would prioritize single men with a ‘mental disability’. I was segregated as a mentally disabled person, yet as a young man I was seen as strong and able-bodied. Medical papers did not interest anyone. I was told that the waiting list at HUD was five years for me. Too bad that I can’t get pregnant! Every organization helps families and single mothers, yet no one wants to help single, ill men.


Frederick’s welfare system

Frederick County’s welfare system is designed to shove all metnally disabled people into Way Station, a Sheppard Pratt-backed institution that does not have a reputation of being a humane and compassionate place that would allow one to recover. I knew people who lived there: as one of my friends described it as “a factory farm for disabled people''.

Way Station helps patients who get out of the mental hospital by providing them with a bed in a slum-like housing program. They are strict with medications, ensuring that clients remain drugged up, perhaps so they would not complain about insecure and crowded living conditions. They also become legal payees and take away disability pensions, leaving $80 to $150 (according to different sources) to the clients, as allowance.

It is against their business interest to lose clients, to recovery or death. Thus, clients remain suspended between the two states for decades. From the very beginning, I understood that this was not an option.

I can elaborate about the big picture of the mental health and affordable housing crisis in Frederick.

It feels like the objective of the welfare system is to scare ill working poor back into work by showing them that there is no livable alternative. Or they are holding tanks for disadvantaged people, ensuring that self-esteem remains low. They are not rewarded for positive outcomes.

Living Nightmare.

At the time, I received only $733 per month and I could not afford a room for more than $500.  I was segregated from shared houses for “professionals”. I was stuck in very low-income housing with dishonest landlords and roommates who were not always stable and trustworthy.

My colon spasms made my life a living nightmare. In the housing that I was allowed to rent, I couldn’t cook my own food as the sink was always full of someone’s dirty dishes. (I cannot afford to eat out/buy cooked food; I try my best to eat healthy food that is easy on my digestive system.) I could not use the bathroom when I wanted to, often having to clean filth after other roommates. It was always my turn to clean. Not all people wash their hands after using the bathroom in such places, something that I had to get used to as well.

I have sleeping problems because my spasms would keep me awake at night, periodically throwing off my sleeping cycle. I was constantly sleep deprived.

I was kept awake by noise at night, when I tried to complain, I was told that I am disabled, a parasite and a second-class citizen and that they are taking a break after a long day at work and I am nobody to complain about their midnight TV watching.

I had mentally unstable neighbors: a couple with anger problems who would yell at each other all day and all night. While this anger was not directed at me, the shouts triggered my PTSD.

I had to move several times and I could not do the lifting. For this reason, I slept on an inflatable mattress and kept only as many belongings as one would bring to a camping trip. This also didn’t help my condition.

I often have back pain. Currently, having a medicine ball around helps me stretch my back and relieve back pain. It would be an unthinkable luxury to have a medicine ball in the environments where I lived previously.

My landlord pretended like I have a say in who gets to move into the room that is right against mine, he offered me to write an ad on craigslist and to show the room. The landlord rented this room for less than he told me to advertise it for and a new tenant moved in.

My new roommate was very loud. He was also obsessed with the zombie apocalypse. He hoarded weapons and kept a rifle in his bedroom. My room no longer felt like a sanctuary, I experienced severe spasms, had bloody stool and decided to go to the hospital just so I could catch up on sleep in a safe place.

At the time, I was afraid to complain to my landlord as I feared that my neighbor would shoot me before my landlord would do anything about him having a gun. Also, I realized that for the amount of money that I am given, I cannot rent anything else.

Such situations are a part of my income bracket.

There was an instance when I was arrested, based on a made up story for the police. I would have died if I was jailed before trial. The charges against me were dropped.

Writing about this situation to our influential “community leaders” did not help. My cries for help were ignored by politicians, welfare directors and priests, alike.

Most of the people whom I contacted were Democrats.

Because of my bad health and guilt that I was brought up with, I had self-esteem problems that made me more vulnerable. I felt like society wanted me dead and I almost conformed.

I tried to schedule a meeting with a lawyer at the Legal Aid to receive a consultation on the ways to prepare to defend my legal rights. However it took them so long to respond that I no longer needed their help, by the time that they got back to me. It has been suggested that Frederic’s Legal Aid deliberately throttles clients to keep poor people from knowing their rights when negotiating in landlord-tenant disputes. This may be a part of the gentrification that Frederick is experiencing.

People like me

I interact with a number of other people who have health problems that are similar to mine. Many of them are in unsupportive, unhealthy and hostile environments. They cannot afford to live independently. This impedes their recovery process, taking a toll on their mental and physical health. Clearly, their recovery is not a priority to the Frederick establishment, as I mentioned their stories during various meetings with officials.

Surviving in Frederick

I felt very vulnerable because I could not find a place where I can live in safety and comfort for guaranteed periods of time and take care of myself. I felt, and still feel like I am being punished for not being a profit-bearing resident of Frederick. All odds were against me and every day was an uphill battle for survival.

If we were to weigh my suffering only from an economic perspective, it would have saved the state a lot of money on hospitalization expenses if I had a safer place to live.

There is a category of expenses that are associated with homeless people that use hospitals as the only places where they can access hygiene: use the showers and rest in a clean, warm, quiet and safe environment.

Because of my condition, I would not survive on the streets. Thus, I understood that I may have to take my last stand to attract attention to my situation and to the societal problem, at large.

As a last resort, I considered public suicide, as that could also be a way to help other people who are still living like that, for someone with extremely limited influence.

After all, I “earned” my PTSD in Frederick and now Frederick tries to get rid of me.

Lack of affordable housing in Frederick increases the number of suicides and unnecessary hospitalizations. It has a real human cost that nobody bothers to measure.

It also contributes to the cost of public healthcare.

Currently, our welfare system prioritizes poor families with children. However it makes no attempt to reward those who choose not to have children in poverty, people who are struggling to be productive, despite their limited health.

The welfare system is designed around obsolete gender roles that disfavor LGBT people and single men, encourage irresponsible procreation.

My experiences with local employment services for disabeld were also disappointing: lots of formal replies and no involvement.


I survived!

Thankfully, good people provided me with a safe place to live. I still pay most of my SSI as rent. I managed to recover significantly: I no longer experience such severe spasms. I am also trying to attract public attention to the problems that I encountered.

So far, my attempts to find representation in the Municipal and County governments, to become a spokesperson for the problem were unsuccessful.


(00) Why are taxpayers expected to support a welfare system that so easily disposes of them, once they lose their ability to work?

Why do we support such a large and inefficient welfare/non-profit sector?

Can we defund some programs in this sector and give money directly to the poor; start programs that would pay people with lived experience to help other people with lived experience?

(01) Remove systemic barriers that keep survivors/low income residents/residents with lived experience from representing themselves in the City/County Government.

(02) Have Frederick's welfare system and non-profit organizations that the welfare relies upon, organizations that receive funding from the State, City and County treasury, organizations that poor/vulnerable residents, residents with special needs are referred to, to be AUDITED by an independent third-party analytical organization for their efficiency, as it was requested many times.

Please help me become a spokesperson for the experience that I had!


There is a subject that induces a lot of fear.

This subject also stands in the way between our mundane fight for survival and our Utopian dreams of making our world a better place: livelihood.


Many of us who envision beautiful ideas on how to make our world more humane, how to make our living more sustainable, more in tune with Nature, forget about livelihood, forget about where our daily bread comes from.


Without bringing up this delicate subject, it is almost impossible to have a conversation about many subjects including Recovery and Reconnection with the Earth. Some people own real estate and others do not; some have taken the position of professional preachers or hold a cushy position in the government or the non-profit sector, while others are surviving on welfare or living paycheck to paycheck. Some people try to provide for their two children, others have many children and expect society (or everybody else) to cover some of the expenses. There is no unity, unless the source of sustenance is shared, and risk of death is shared. How can we reform the society without discussing our socioeconomic backgrounds openly?

I find it counterproductive to talk about recovery without discussing the cost of independent living, the cost of dependent living, the cost of housing, work and income.


Sometimes the subject of sustainable living even serves as a cover, to avoid the subject of livelihood, as a psychological defense, a cover for fear; yet the subjects are inseparable at their root. Where our income comes from is where we tend to be out of unity with Nature the most.


“Leave everything behind and follow me.” doesn’t work in our world anymore. As spiritual teachers are also commercial entities, such calls are often interpreted as surrendering your basic human needs for our good cause. As good causes become commercial enterprises, the level of indifference to them increases.

As long as livelihood is avoided, the question “For whom we are building this future ?”, will remain open. Who will get to live in it?


Livelihood is also a delicate subject because people have to hide their income or aid in order to be taxed less or to receive more subsidy from the system. The tax system is designed to repress mutual aid and barter by taxing in money, thus it seems always to be between the state, and us, alone.


Yet, as long as this subject remains to be a social taboo, we are going to live as we did, corruption will increase and the society will further divide into castes, each pulling the blanket in it’s own direction, until it rips.


It is what we refuse to talk about that gets us. We get a very divided society, a very compartmentalized culture, where every noble idea is distrusted, as no noble idea truly challenges the social roles that we live in (or under), unless money, pay, livelihood, income, assets, access to resources are an open part of the conversation.




Promoted

Frederick Municipal Forest, also known as the Frederick Watershed, is one of the most beautiful nature destinations to visit on a weekend.

This vast undisturbed, wild landmass stretches over Catoctin Mountain, connecting Gambrill State Park to Catoctin and Cunningham State Parks.

.It is one of the nearest places where residents of Frederick can access wild nature.
image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=151&dpx=1&t=1589961466

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=152&dpx=1&t=1589961714The Catoctin trail stretches along the Catoctin Mountain Range, connecting several parks and the Frederick Municipal Forest.


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=171&dpx=1&t=1589999556Groups of volunteers, primarily mountain bikers, maintain the trails. Mountain bikes also erode the soil a little bit more than hikers. However, volunteers are repairing trails, ensuring that rain water does not run down the exposed soil of the path, arrange large stones and logs to make trails more robust. Big thanks to the volunteers for conservation of the Frederick Watershed! 


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=153&dpx=1&t=1589961882

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=154&dpx=1&t=1589961901There are many beautiful ponds in the Frederick Watershed. Originally, some creeks were dammed to create fire water reservoirs, to be used for fighting forest fires, they add to the spirit of this forest. In several valleys, little streams connect the cascades of ponds like beads. This particular pond has a very interesting water color, making it one of my favorite ponds. The dams on the ponds are already eroding, causing them to lose the water level.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=155&dpx=1&t=1589962287Streams come out of every hillside and the terrain has a different character on every slope of every hill. There is a great amount of biodiversity as every slope has a different climate, depending on which direction it is facing and what other mountain formations shield it. In the winter, there valleys where the snow can stay for an extra month, compared to other parts of Frederick County.

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=159&dpx=1&t=1589962701Recently some internal gravel roads have been closed from one, probably to discourage owners of off-road vehicles from going on a safari and damaging the soil.


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=163&dpx=1&t=1589963284Despite expressing a concern about the quality of our drinking water and river ecosystems, our County Government still allows our most precious natural resource to be treated in this unsustainable manner. Occasionally, our County government sanctions for the parts of the Watershed to be clear cut.
The amount of soil damage that logging leaves behind on the ancient mountain is disturbing.


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=168&dpx=1&t=1589964690

image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=164&dpx=1&t=1589963522This image reminds me of one of the pathetic pictures about deforestation of the Amazon Basin. In actuality, this picture has been taken in the Frederick Municipal Forest. I suspect that many cubic meters of fertile soil had been washed away into the streams as a result of this barbaric logging operation. As a result, we lost a delicate layer of organic soil and vegetation, capable of storing the precipitation up on the hills, slowly releasing it into the streams below. This contributes to doughnuts, floods, soil deprivation and erosion and river pollution.
How much damage to the environment does a clear-cut like this cause? Lets ask a scientist!
Frederick County was in a state of drought for several years in a row and the topsoil of the mountains can store rainwater, like a natural water tower.


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=165&dpx=1&t=1589964280

A mountain bike trail transverses the clear-cutting site. At each end there are those mysterious signs. I haven’t seen a single security camera on a tree, not even a camera for tracking wild game.

And what is the damage to Public Property? Is it me walking there or is it them demising our Municipal Forest with their logging?The water picks up loose soil runoff, chainsaw oil, soot and other pollutants. Someone in the government probably gets a nice kickback for issuing a permit to cut the trees that grow in this fragile environment on one of the most ancient mountain ranges in the world.

I wonder how much more the mountains have eroded after first settlers arrived in the Appalachian mountains, cut all the trees and turned the exposed surfaces into pastures? And unfortunately, the first thing that was lost is the tender, fertile layer of rich, organic soil that covers most of the mountains and nourishes life that clings to the hillsides. I wonder how much thicker that layer was in the original first-growth virgin forest.

Camping is illegal in the Municipal Forest, probably because our dear government is afraid that a portion of our homeless population will settle there. Fires are also illegal, which doesn’t stop people from starting them in picturesque places. I was once ticketed for camping in the Watershed and had to pay a fine. Yet clear cutting of the forest doesn’t seem to bother any authority.

Ancient mountains may not last long enough for us and our governments to get any better.
How can we protect the Watershed portion of the Catoctin Mountain for future generations?

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