Sunday, September 23, 2012


In Hollywood, Florida, just south of the Hard Rock Casino, there are 1,500 people, most of them seniors, being evicted from their homes inside the Seminole Estates Mobile Home Park. Some residents can afford the move. Many cannot. Many are financially strapped. Others are quite old and physically disabled. The residents of Seminole Estates feel abandoned.

It is not unusual these days, in communities where people own their homes but not the land, for park management companies to sell out. At this approximate 120-acre park, the Seminole Tribe who owns the land but  had contracted it out as a mobile home park through 2024, bought out the lease for an undisclosed amount, and have changed the terms.

A tribe spokesperson says that there is a housing shortage and that they need the land so that 200 tribe members can live on ancestral land. One of the current residents asks, "We have empty lots and empty houses. Why can't we live together?" That doesn't seem to be an option however, and homeowners must be out of the park by the end of June 2013. If they stay past the end of this year, their rents will increase about every two months.

The protestors were hoping for some news coverage today or perhaps a visit from Senator Bill Nelson; they got me instead.
I do not understand the law enough to make wise legal claims about what the Seminoles, who own the land, quantitatively owe the residents, but I do think they owe them humane treatment, respect and fair compensation. As of now, residents who leave the park before the end of the year may collect up to a pathetically low $3,000 if eligible (they must make under $40,000 to qualify). If they stay past the new year, their rents will begin to rise through June. In addition, as soon as tribe management posted eviction notices, they shut down the pool, club house, and other amenities.

At a peaceful protest today, I met some of the residents.

"How do you tell your kids 'dad's homeless,' " asks Troy Bolon who moved to Florida from California ten years ago. In the months ahead he will be losing his home, the one he lives in with his elderly parents and handicapped brother, and he will also be losing work. Troy takes care of 100 lawns in the community which account for about 1/3 of his business. He believes the residents of the park are entitled to more time and better compensation, and he is officially looking for new work.

Alfred has lived at the park for 26 years. He moved from Rhode Island. put about $40,000 into his 1978 home. He tells me he has been a hardworking man all of his life, has never gotten a speeding ticket, and that the stress is making him sick.  With about $10,000 to his name, all he wants is a fair offer to move. "Don't embarrass us with a $3,000 offer," he says.

Kathy Maynard moved to the Estates 7 years ago. She sold her condo and put $125,000 into a luxurious 1,800 sq ft. manufactured home which she shares with her 10 birds, including Bonkers, a 37 year old blue macaw. Kathy Maynard has a good job. She is an accountant, and because she makes a decent living, she doesn't qualify for compensation. She has already secured a new lot for her house in a reputable community because she has to be settled by the time tax season comes around. She will be using most of her retirement savings to relocate, and will also have to find another place for her and her birds to live for 4-6 weeks during the moving process.

Deo came to the protest with lots of paperwork including the rental agreement he had signed in 2010 when he moved from New York.  He paid cash for his home, put in a new bathroom, and made other improvements. His sister Pearl has lived here since 2002. Her husband is disabled. They plead, "Just don't put us on the street."

Jamie moved here to take care of her mother nine years ago. When her mother passed away in 2008, she stayed. Jamie has no idea what she is going to do right now. She's not worried so  much for herself as she is for the older people. "I'm here representing the elderly and people undergoing chemo" she says, "I have to be their voice."  Helping others makes Jamie feel better, and ultimately she says, "It's in God's hands."

Donna moved to the Estates on May 12, 1973. Originally, she told me, it was a family park. Her children were born here but Donna said they had to leave the park recently.

I met others: Carol, Richard, Heidi, and Thomas. Some folks are in better shape than others. They have families that will take them in or they have other homes or a decent savings to fall back on. Some want to get out as quickly as possible so as not to contribute another dime to the tribe. Many believe that they will get kicked out, the land will go undeveloped for years, and then a parking lot or additional casino will be built.

Feelings of abandonment, fear and stress are palpable. Self-preservation is a must, yet many folks worry about their friends -- those who are older, more frail and poorer. Richard Ferraro, age 69, says, "I'm not worried about me. I'm crying for others." The residents of Seminole Estates feel that the rug was pulled out from under them in a sly, calculated, and cold maneuver.

To be continued..............

Friday, September 21, 2012


I have two of my own blogs -- this one and WANTNEEDXOXO. And I want to differentiate them publicly.

WANTNEEDXOXO is mostly about material and visual pleasures -- furniture, crafts, art, destinations, food, fashion, etc. Stuff I want to sit on, write in, put on, look at, buy!!!! Or stuff that I think you should buy to make your world prettier, cozier, better organized, cleaner....

MISS BLOGWORTHY shall be more about the bigger picture like humanity, history, socio-economic issues, philanthropy, injustice, happiness, etc. Sounds heavy but really just hoping to raise awareness and have a platform to speak about what move's me emotionally and intellectually.

The two blogs have crossed paths in the past. And they might do so in the future because not every blog topic is cut and dry -- for example a furniture manufacturer who gives a percentage of profits to cancer research or a colorful stationery company who is making a huge impact in education in third world countries.

I am excited about having blog clarity.
I shall write soon. 

xo Jane

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Month of Uncomfortable Calls

I declared August "The Month of Uncomfortable Calls." I got the idea during a post-phone interview high when I was feeling energized and invincible. There's an amazing intimacy and feeling of connection that comes with speaking over the phone. You cannot get this feeling via email. It isn't the same.

I challenged myself to call people that I would normally email. "The Month of Uncomfortable Calls" was enlightening because I discovered that sometimes the discomfort was so subtle, that I could barely detect it, and instead chalked it up to innocent laziness or procrastination. I also discovered that most of my fears were simply tied to basic human insecurity ("I don't want to bother him.") and feelings of unworthiness ("Why would she want to talk to me?").

I promised to make a difficult call everyday, but I didn't. I gave myself weekends off, and would make two or three other days. I left many messages, got a couple of wrong numbers, but mostly succeeded in getting through.

I called long lost friends....

I called Beverly. I felt very badly for not having sent a handwritten note or calling when I found out that her father had died a few months before. Her home number was not in service; her cell was not taking calls.

I called Kristi who is one of the most inspiring people I ever met. Just lost touch, felt bad about it and was reminded of this at Christmas when she'd send me a really nice card. I think about her often and wanted to let her know she was still in my mind. We played some phone tag and finally talked. She was so happy to hear from me.

I called Eric, my first real serious boyfriend. His father passed away and I thought calling was nicer than emailing, but it was hard because calling anyone under these circumstances is hard for me. His phone wasn't taking calls, we have since texted twice.

I called countless people for work related stuff. The usual dialogue that goes on in my head to dissuade me from calling is "They're too busy to talk to me." which I translate to mean "They are not interested in talking to me." which therefore seems like rejection. I had many great conversations.

I also called several doctors. These calls were difficult because by making appointments I was committing to paying sizable chunks of change and also taking the risk of unpleasant news. Between the dentist and Planned Parenthood I spent $400 and was deemed healthy. I will, however, be forking over about $750+ to the dentist in months to come.

I learned a lot from this exercise. I learned that I make too many excuses. I learned that most of what I fear is bullshit and that this habit of getting in my own way prevents me from giving what I am capable of. I also learned that phoning can be contagious. I plan to make some really good calls this month too.