In Marin / CONVERSATION
somewhere unless their publication pays their
way. Not me. I go to the Iowa caucuses because
I want to find out what’s going on. I consider
dilettantes the future of journalism.
At the end of every column you often give
your email address (spotswood@comcast.
net); does that bring a deluge of junk mail?
My email address is there every time and
I’m really behind right now. Again, my wife
asks me, “Why are you doing this?” I guess
in a global sense, I want people to think
my column is something they can rely on.
Occasionally, I strike pay dirt.
So it’s worth it sometimes? About a month
ago, a lady emailed me from Corte Madera.
She said she was worried about fire danger
around her home — and that she’d called
several places but no one responded. So I
went there to look around and it did seem
dangerous. At the time, I’d been writing about
Marin’s fire danger for over a year, but never
got an inside look at the crisis. After our meeting, I placed some calls and told people about
the lady I’d met in Corte Madera. I wound
up spending hours touring the hills with the
Marin Fire District, and I’ve continued writing about the fire danger in Marin County
ever since. Then last week a chap emailed me
from Rotary Manor and complained that the
grounds were overgrown and no one cared
except him. But it was beautifully overgrown
as far as I could see. Then I found out Rotary
Manor is actually affordable senior housing,
but it sure didn’t look like what I would think
affordable housing would look like. So I learned
a big lesson there.
A month ago, your column claimed most
homeless people suffer from mental illness
and they should be cared for in an institution,
not left on the street to suffer. What was the
response to that? Surprisingly, it got little
response, but what it did get was mostly positive. Here’s the story: several years ago, as a
volunteer at the St. Vincent de Paul dining hall
for the homeless in San Rafael, I met Christine
Paquette, their executive director. She’s rock
solid. Any way, I said I needed a deeper, even
intellectual, understanding of the homelessness problem and she said to read Street Crazy
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