We’ll “NEFR” forget you David Sisk!

I can’t remember when or where I first met David Sisk, but back in 2009 he asked me if I’d take some photos of an event he and his friends were planning to do the day before Valentine’s Day. I didn’t know what they were up to but I was willing to do my part. I call it “The Great Valentine’s Day Caper.”

Before it was turned into a parking lot for cars, it was just an empty, weedy lot next to the Book Store, on the corner of Main and First Streets in downtown Chico. On the designated day and time we all met there. The guys wore hard-hats so they’d look official, like they were there to do some real work. Well, they did do some real work, but probably not the kind of work the owner of the lot would have wanted. In the end, “Sisko” was placed on top of the rusty old pole for everyone passing by to see on Valentine’s Day, a heartfelt wish of love and peace.

Today, I can’t walk or ride my bike past the spiffy new parking lot next to the Book Store without seeing in my mind’s eye the empty lot with Sisko, perched a-top that old pole.

 

The crew: Naz Esposito, David, Mike Bacior, Steve Cook.

 

The project tools.

 

The crew is ready to get to work.

 

The crew at work.

 

Almost done. (Someone has to hold the ladders.)

 

Looks pretty good so far.

 

Job done. Good work guys!

In the years that followed, I took many photos of our friend David Sisk and his art. I liked how he expressed his humor and his activism with his art. I have one original piece of David’s art work that my friends, Emily and Laurel, gave me. It’s a picture that he did for the activist group, Neighbors for Environmental and Fiscal Responsibility (NEFR), who were trying to stop a big truck bridge from being built over Comanche Creek in the Barber Neighborhood in south Chico. The bridge would have damaged the creek and all the creatures that live there. And the developers wanted the people of Chico to pay for it. David’s picture hangs on the wall above my head in my little home office. I’m grateful to have this remembrance of him.

 

On the occasion of David and Beth’s 40th wedding anniversary.

 

David did this billboard during the campaign to stop fracking in Butte County.

 

Here’s my husband, Lin Jensen, checking out David’s “Mayfly Convention” billboard.

The last time I saw David was at Bobbi’s coffee cart at the Saturday Farmers’ Market about a week before he died. He was there with his wife Beth, his daughter Sierra and granddaughter Olive. It was a nice day with lively conversation as we all stood around the coffee cart drinking our coffee. It’s hard to comprehend that David/Sisko aren’t here with us anymore. But I guess that’s not totally true. His art, his humor and his way of perceiving the world (remember the Frontal Lobe Society?) will always be with us.

David Sisk: We’ll NEFR forget you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chico City Council members: Remember what Jesus said!

Chico City Council meeting, 02/02/21, Item 5.2

It’s easy to think of the “homeless population” as less deserving, as “transients,” who aren’t really from Chico, who are “lazy,” who are “criminals,” or who “choose” the “homeless lifestyle.” “They’re dirty and only make a mess of our parks.” This narrative makes it easier to justify the punishment and ridicule of all homeless individuals, but not really seeing them as individual human beings. There aren’t really “three kinds of homeless” as Erik Gustafson, Director of Public Works, tried to explain to me on the day he oversaw the eviction of the homeless campers living in lower Bidwell Park. I don’t believe that anyone would choose to live in a tent, in the mud, in the middle of a cold and wet winer without dire reasons. The truth is: a growing number of homeless people in our town are senior citizens in the age bracket of some of the City Councilors’ parents or grandparents. Many are elderly women.

It eases our conscience to think of the homeless as the “other,” outside of ourselves, when we bulldoze their belongings into a heap and then dump them into a dumpster. We don’t want the homeless to be visible. We just want them to go away and hide so we, and our children, don’t have to see them. It makes it easier to vanquish our uncomfortable thoughts.

I know that some of the current counselors, city staff and City Mgr. Mark Orme, are practicing Christians and I call upon you to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ who did not turn away from the poor and homeless. Do not make policy, or vote in such a way, as to merely fulfill a campaign promise to rid the town of “transients” who “don’t really live here.”

Instead, go by the universal Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” A specific example of the Golden Rule is expressed by Jesus in his own words, Matthew 25: “Truly I say unto you, to the extent that you do unto one of these brothers of mine, even to the least of them, you do unto me.”

Thank you,
Karen Laslo, Chico resident

Homeless woman sleeping in Annie’s Glen

Elderly homeless man trying to clean himself in Sycamore Pool

Homeless man walking down my street

City bulldozing homeless campers’ belongings in lower Bidwell Park