It's happened again - for the third time in the past five years, crackheads have burned down another one of my rental properties.
During the freezing Winter nights, I traditionally leave one or two homes vacant so the homeless and indigent can have a warm and safe place to stay.
But as with most years, someone gets a bit too comfortable and a bit too careless and ultimately they burn down the home which has sheltered them during freezing Winter storms at no cost to them.
But this year is different.
This year I've become too jaded to offer free or reduced priced housing.
This year I was clearing land in an attempt to build an urban garden.
I'd read posts by SeeNew, FreeMan, and ed which outlined the basics in setup maintenance and governance of such a concept.
I'd moved all of my elderly tenants (Except one - who happened to die just last week) to government housing complexes.
I was in the middle of negotiations with cousins to trade some of their vacant lots for some of my lots with homes on them in order to have a contiguous four-plus acres of plantable land.
I was planning on going through the eviction process to clear the three homes in this area for such an undertaking.
Upon seeing me with a grim on my face as three units were going up in smoke, "Did you light this fire?", a policeman asked.
I hadn't - but I was just happy to see this "slumlord" chapter of my Beaumont adventure end.
I was excited to not have to pay someone to cut and plow under century old trees.
I was happy that I didn't have to evict anyone.
I was happy that I had shepherded every elderly or needy tenant to a better place or until death.
As I explained my future plans for the property to a local resident (Whom I'd helped a great many times in my ten-plus years trying to rehabilitate this hood.), "That's why you doin' bad now", is all she could say.
Maybe she was right.
Maybe her generation was lost to the influences of her environment.
Maybe I should just focus on the next generation.
So what's the plan for this acreage?
-Drill a well to water any gardens which residents may plant.
-Form as many 8x16 railroad tie planting beds as the property will allow.
-Try to form alliances with a local fraternity and an elementary school to allow the children to grow and maintain the micro-farm.
The fraternity could use this as one of their philanthropic requirements while building relationships with kids from the hood. (Thanks for the idea ed.)
-Allow the children from the neighborhood school to have a seasonal Farmer's Market to sell their produce as a means to supplement their school's budgetary needs. (Really, this does more symbolic good than financial but the children will (hopefully) learn that they are a part of the neighboring community.
Does it suck to see ones homes burn to the ground?
Sure, but think about the future possibilities...