AA#2-From North Russell To Camper Fire

by Travis Mateer

Date: March 30th, 2023
Time: 10:00am-11:00am
Location: North Russell bridge area
          plus Red Lion Inn
Business contacts: 1
Government/community contacts: 2
Houseless contacts: 0

I had no intention of stumbling upon a camper fire during my TIF work, but there it is, and it put up quite a plume of blackened, then whitish, smoke. Does that mean a new homeless Pope has been selected? No, that’s a silly question, and this is the serious QUALITATIVE part of the Assess and Address report I am doing as a part of Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF). Let’s begin.

I parked my vehicle in front of the mixed use apartment complex called the Equinox and did my outreach thing about possible volunteer cleanups along the river trail. First, I outreached Tamarack Property Management. That’s the business contact. I also popped in to the Homeword office, but since they’re a non-profit, I marked them as a community contact.

The other community contact is a resident of one of the apartment complexes and the conversation got started after he asked me if I was looking for something. I explained that I was looking for cleanup opportunities before April 10th, when the Johnson Street shelter will be closing.

I ended up getting lots of interesting perspective about how this person doesn’t always feel safe with the behavior of people seemingly under the influence of drugs in the area. He pointed out the shrubbery along the river that, when leafed out in the summer/fall seasons, provides nice cover for people who have needle-needs for their drug of choice.

This citizen also checks “Missoula mugs”, which is a website featuring mugshots, and he also checks the jail roster. He told me that he’s recognized someone accused of pretty serious crimes just hanging out in the area, which adds to his discomfort about how much he wants to be out in the area to enjoy the scenery. If trash doesn’t get cleaned up, he said, then this part of town gets a reputation for being a bad part of town.

Another supporter of the Broken Windows theory of cleaning shit up?

I stopped near the Sleepy Inn to record a brief update on my activities when a police response heading toward the Poverello Center caught my interest. Turns out, a camper was on fire.

I decided to stop where I initially thought the fire was occurring, which was the Red Lion Inn, but that’s because the camper that was burning was parked directly behind it. I saw someone walking through the parking lot who I won’t describe because this person gave me a name of who the camper belonged to, and the name led to some information I passed along to a Missoula police detective.

I will say this, there was a Johnson Street shelter connection that makes me more curious than ever about what’s going on AT and AROUND the Red Lion Inn.

The cost for this outing, which includes the writing of this post, is $43 dollars. And here’s the video.

If you would like to financially support Travis’ Impact Fund click the link today and make your donation!

Thank you, and stay tuned for more reports.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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