There’s always a good vibe about Chuck Flacks, but on this particular Friday, he’s beaming from ear to ear. It’s his birthday, and he’s just signed a lease for office space in the Balboa Building that will be headquarters for the Central Coast Collaborative On Homeless (C3H).
“My job,” explains Chuck, “is to help people work better together.”
C3H is a county-wide, collective-impact collaboration of elected officials, government agencies, non-profit organizations, foundations, faith communities, business and community leaders, and individuals who have experienced homelessness. With the goal of preventing homelessness from ever happening, Chuck is essentially air traffic control for coordinating the efforts of and communication between all of the different organizations involved.
“The people we see on the streets often have failed out of the system, and it requires a different approach,” said Chuck, who was born and raised in Santa Barbara and is the son of Dick and Mickey Flacks. “This is the hardest job I’ve ever had,” he said. “But if it was easy to do, I probably wouldn’t want to do it.” He loves the “spiritual aspect” of the work as well as the community of people working together to try to solve the issues.
In his spare time, Chuck enjoys cycling, often participating in 100-mile century rides.
Here, he answers the Proust Questionnaire.
What is your greatest fear?
Becoming useless. I think we all have a purpose, and my life’s search has been to find how I can have the most impact, and still enjoy myself.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My energy. Aaron McEmrys, the Unitarian Minister, called me “a big sun of a person.”
What do you like most about your job?
The chance to connect with everyone interested in ending homelessness from the people living on the streets, to the top elected officials, senior government staff, law enforcement, business leaders, and everyone in between. It will truly take a village for us to end homelessness together. It’s also fun to work on something that seems impossible — ending homelessness — but knowing that if we bring together the right resources, we can do it!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Living in a beautiful place, sharing a life with someone who I consider my best friend, knowing my children are happy and secure, having work that is meaningful and spiritually fulfilling. I think I might have found it!
Who do you most admire?
My parents — Dick and Mickey Flacks. Often featured in these pages, both have lived rich, fulfilling lives, in a 56-year marriage. They have had an impact, watched thousands of movies, traveled extensively, and really enjoy their lives. They have worked to make local and global social change — and they are still at it!
What is your greatest extravagance?
Some of my toys — I ride a fancy bike, spend a fair amount on gear, have an incredible guitar, and like stuff that is beautiful and well-made.
What is your current state of mind?
I feel so blessed. I have an amazing partner, great kids, wonderful friends, and a job I love.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Curiosity. I think that people who ask good questions are the most interesting, and often the most talented and inspiring.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Dishonesty. Do what you’ll say you’ll do.
What do you most value in friends?
Open hearts and open minds. I love the people who are not afraid to share with me their darkest secrets and will explore new ideas and experiences.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I know, right?” I started out saying it ironically, and I can’t stop saying it! I even tried paying my girlfriend $1 for each slip, but gave up when it reached $20. I also am trying to bring back “rad” — though I don’t think it’s working.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I always, always wanted to be an amazing lead guitar player like Richard Thompson, Pete Townsend, or Eric Clapton.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My periodic sadness. It’s hard when you’re tired or hungry or having a tough day to feel like crawling in a hole.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Aside from raising my two kids — Maurice and Olivia Klatch — it was helping to start the Barrio Logan College Institute (www.blci.org) that helps low-income Latino kids in San Diego get to college and be successful there.
Where would you most like to live?
There is no question that living here in Santa Barbara is the greatest place to be. I wish that it wasn’t so hard for people to find housing — at all income levels. And, I wish we could end homelessness.
What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t treasure possessions. I treasure the people in my life. But, if I have to choose, it would be my Taylor GA6 Acoustic guitar handed to me by Bob Taylor himself at a charity auction.
Who makes you laugh the most?
Charla, my partner in life, is the funniest person I know.
What is your motto?
Follow the love. In perhaps the most authentically spiritual moment of my life, this phrase was revealed to me.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Pete Seeger. He was a folksinger, an ethnomusicologist, a teacher, a troubadour, a proud father and grandfather, a spreader of truth and beauty and justice, and he played a mean banjo.
On what occasion do you lie?
I don’t think I ever lie — I exaggerate when enthusiastically expressing joy over the stories of my friends; I overstate my love of things on a regular basis; I am too optimistic when it comes to what I can accomplish; I over-do it when I compliment people; and I tend to lavish praise when maybe just a little will do.