October 27 , 2007

The Block

Just Live 'cuz You Can


In the near future the world economy hits bottom and doesn't bounce. This is a story about how one community from one segment of the US population who refuses to be overcome. The story is set in Red Bluff, California. It's about a happenstance community of seniors that formed as a by-product of the Federal Real Property Repurposing Act of 2025; that act was one of many knee-jerk legislative actions delivered from a guilt ridden congress in the wake of the Social Security Revision Act of 2025. SSRA-2025 stripped Social Security and Medicare benefit funds to the bone and then transferred them to the states for management and administration. Attracted by the Repurposing Act's newly created affordable housing, seniors from all walks of life found common circumstance and purpose. They tightened their belts, formed mini enterprises, and found new ways to thrive. By 2028 the community was chartered as a cooperative and officially recognized by the State of California as The Red Bluff Senior Project, aka The Block. For the promise of Social Security to be broken the US Treasury had to be bare. Explanation for when, why, and how is provided but it is the backdrop, not the story. The story is about the guile, the smarts, and the hustle from folks that almost forgot they still had it. The story is told by Doug Richards, the narrator and one of the Block's earliest residents and oldest survivors. Richards tells the story of The Block using a compilation of anecdotes and humor to describe the challenges and triumphs; the things he called old glory that were part of Block community living. Richards' stories are told with fondness, recalling the antics of his enterprising partners Big Steve Waterman, a retired ship's engineer; a truck named Dudley; a renegade programmer who goes by the handle Fat Nancy; a slick former sales and marketing executive, Tommy Trabadoro; Dan ‘Whitey' Harrington, a wannabe comedian and ex-maintenance worker; and a female boxer dog named Billie Jean. And to be sure, their wives and girlfriends are a force to be reckoned with. The stories of their lives are enriched by supporting characters like the moonshiner from North Carolina, a healer from the Tlingit Tribe in Alaska, the pet whisperer, a health pragmatica guru, a bona fide space cowboy, and a host of others. There were no jobs for seniors but folks still found a ways to exchange value and earn coin. After all seniors know how to do stuff, lots of stuff; they just may be a little out of practice. Richards' stories are light social commentary establishing the power of will and the fire that burns within at any age. Doug Richards and his partners were just some of the many new entrepreneurs in the Block engaged in friendly competition or collaboration. All the Block enterprises were as spirited as the next. This is a story for the 80-percent of Baby Boomers or anyone else that should be worried about ‘what-if.' But this is also a story that says ‘what-if' doesn't matter because there's always a way. And the way is always forward.
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