Media Day

Wednesday was media day.  The Free-Lance Star was in the office on and off all morning. took video of me and a number of students regarding our experiences.  B101.5, a local radio station, was scheduling a time to wake us up Thursday morning and the university’s magazine also took an interview.  I mention all of this because it was the adrenalin rushes that attended the demands of this attention that sustained me through the day. 

The moments between these adrenalin rushes were filled with the concerns of how to handle to weather.  The temperature was predicted to fall to 31 degrees.  A lot of brainstorming went into how best to confront the weather.  We decided to scavenge more cardboard from behind Giant.  It would provide more insulation from the earth and be used to build walls.  Old newspapers were gathered, which we could have used to stuff in our sleeping bags.  Stakes and binding materials were scavenged from the numerous construction sites on campus.  Using these resources we fastened the tarp to the ground and attached the cardboard to the chain link fence around Ball circle.  Late afternoon I returned to Richmond to take care of Dillon for a couple hours.  For two and half days I had been living a life very different from the one I left and the one my wife and son were living in Richmond.  It reminded me that this project is not that bad because I will be returning back here at the end of the week.  This was very comforting.  Indeed, it minimized the anxiety that I had regarding the coming night out in the cold.  

I got back to campus around eight and the hard-core shanty-towners started to gather: Isaac, Katy, Katy, Sierra, Nicole, Alex, and of course Joe.  *CATHERINE* and Tessa brought left-over food from a meeting they attended.  Indeed, food was coming from all kinds of sources across campus.  Students were walking by and giving us money to donate to KIVA and asking if there is anything that they could bring to help out.  The night before one of my students (Dan Kauffman) led me to a source of vital fluids – a crate with three Lipton Brisk Ice Teas.  Recounting these events brings to my mind three thoughts:

1. The wealth of our community.  Even though we were living on $2 dollars a day, the community in which this project was being conducted was full of wealth and resources.  Its members were wealthy and their wealth made it easier for them to be generous to us.  If we needed cardboard there was cardboard to be found.  This goes for any resource that we desired – stakes, string, newspaper, old bagels, but especially fresh fruit, cheese, and meat.  There are so many events this time of year on campus and so much food discarded that we really did not live on two dollars a day.  In an impoverished society these resources would either not have been there for the taking or as common resource would have been exhausted quickly.  In turn, more effort would have had to be expended on our part to find them. 

2. On those occasions that a food or coffee source was found, my attitude was “mine, mine”.   When I came upon a plate of cold-cuts left behind by an anthropology gathering (there must not be a lot of meat eaters in the anthropology department), I immediately asked if I could have them.  The same went for the Brisk, cookies, and fruit (which *CATHERINE* brought to us.  That fruit was incredible.).

3. Those animals we call pets were our competitors.  Tuesday morning a Golden Retriever stole one of our bagels from the dumpster.  And, when I found that cold-cut platter, Sadie (the Geography department’s mascot) kept staring at me through the window along the side of my office door.  No longer cute and cuddly but a source of competition.   


If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my This is the Work newsletter.

Thanks. – shawn

P.S. Read the Sidekick Manifesto and Take the Pledge!