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Riverhood Series: Michael Fritsch

We’ve talked to city leaders, community members, and local artists about the Riverhood’s impact on the community, and how a regenerative approach could grow the city’s capacity to take care of our community - including those currently experiencing homelessness.

In Brodhead Park, camps line the banks, clusters of tents tied together. Some are here by circumstances out of their control, and some are here by choice.

“The river is like a heartbeat almost,” Michael Fritsch says. He’s been living in Reno for 30 years, the last year or so without a home. “I came out here by choice. I came out here because if I were going to be homeless anywhere it'd be right here by the river.”

Living here has its challenges, but Fritsch still loves the area. “It’s kind of like becoming one with nature almost. at night I lay in my tent. I'll put on my music, and I'll lay there and I’ll just listen to the river. That's all I need to hear.”

“This, right here, is my tranquility,” he said

Fritsch, who originally comes from Chicago, began living unsheltered after leaving an abusive relationship. Today he works with Grant Denton to clean up the park, encouraging others to do so as well. He takes pride in his river and is thrilled Denton’s doing the work that he is.

“If there were more people in the world like that, we wouldn't really have a problem with this.”

Fritsch works with Denton and other unsheltered residents to regularly clean up Brodhead Park. Several times a week, they take the trash to bins, break up abandoned camps, and encourage others to clean up after themselves.

“It's really upsetting. You find needles and stuff and broken bottles,” he says. “It's kind of a shame that the river looks the way it does, because... look at the trees and everything. It’s beautiful here.”

Fritsch would like to see more enforcement when it comes to keeping the river clean. “If they’re going to allow people to live here, start fining. That’s what I would do, just start writing tickets or whatever you got to do.”

Fritsch recognizes there are trouble makers, especially at night, but says most people are just trying to get by. Access to food and staying warm are big challenges, but Fritsch says there are plenty of food resources out there for those who are looking.

“Personally I think if you go hungry in this town there’s something wrong with you. They’ve got food banks. There are resources.”

Fritsch may be moving again - he has recurring health issues and wants to be close to his daughter. But Reno will always be important to him. “Reno’s my home. I love this place so much. Reno means everything to me.”

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