Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 2

I woke up the next morning and changed into some fresh clothes. Grabbing a bagel that had been brought by a girl scout troop the day before, I headed out on my bike towards downtown again. I met a couple fellow MISSION members, Jason and Lin, at a coffee shope before heading to a CTN Safety Committee Meeting.
The meeting was with representatives from Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Michigan State Police (MSP), and Washtenaw County Police to discuss a recent incident and the current status of CTN.

Since there have been no further complaints from the public, MDOT is not currently concerned about CTN being on their land. However, the representative made it clear that if the camp became a liability this would change. MSP was pleased to hear about progress towards a viable land alternative and that the camp was not remaining stagnant. Since CTN is located on state land, the Washtenaw County Police do not have the right to take action on the camp without permission from MDOT and MSP.

One concern MISSION had is that campers do not feel safe calling the police after an incident, such as a physical fight, out of fear that everyone would be evicted. Caleb requested that the police department provide a liaison that could develop a relationship with the camp, making the residents more comfortable.

After the meeting I went with Jason who showed me a bike shop where I could fill up my tires for free. Jason is a doctoral student of anthropology who is also doing research on tent cities and also, as he put it, a "tent city nerd." It was refreshing to find someone else who had been looking into the issue and we ended up talking for much of the remainder of the day.

It was dinner time so I headed to the local shelter, the Delonis Center, that evening for a free meal.  On the way I passed Lin, who was playing violin on the street in front of a sign that read "shelter is full, sanctioned land for the homeless."  I signed her petition to president Obama and continued on my way to Delonis.  It was my first real meal since I had been in Ann Arbor so it was much appreciated.

Returning to camp I met Ray who is currently head of security at CTN.  I introduced myself and told him a little about why I was there.  He provided me a seat outside of his tent and we talked about radical ideas and living outside the grid – even though it surrounded us. He also told me some interesting stories about previous living situations that included Tompkins Square Park just before the riot in 1988 took place. His plan now is to find some work and save up for two or three years. After that, he hopes to purchase a cheap piece of land in northern Michigan where he can make art, grow his own food, and live peacefully.

We moved over to the community space where a fire was burning and talked with a couple other campers before returned to my tent for the night.

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