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Snapshots from the Rail

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Scroll down for notes from the WayOut experience. If we don't study ourselves, we get studied. Often, with a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation. We're side launching a community ethnographic endeavor-- out of the ivory tower and into the grassroots. The snapshots below are excerpts from written and audio field notes. Join the research. Not as subjects, but as intellectuals. Post your reactions, insights, analysis and similar experiences. 

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"Oh! The cops are here."

The morning was quiet. Outside of the burnt coals, there was little left of the campfire fun we had the previous night playing games and singing rap, reggae and R&B songs while talking trash and vibing with strangers who had quickly felt like friends. Most had already eaten breakfast and were waiting for outdoor yoga to begin. While folks sat around the tables, people began to talk about hearing a couple of cars driving through the land. On the campground we were using, there was a private dirt road cut through between the main road and a cluster of houses behind the land. The event organizer had arranged private use of the entire property, but it appeared nearby residents were used to using the shortcut. When we arrived, many of the RVs, vans and other vehicles had parked along this dirt road. 

 

“Oh! The cops are here.” From the table, the campers could see a cop car parked at the main road. The event organizer and a few others got up to see why it was there. Before walking over, someone said, “Bring your phone.” We all knew what this could easily turn into. Those who stayed at the table continued an uneasy conversation. 

 

After a short while, the cop car left and the event organizer called all the campers, about 30 of us, together to let us know what happened. It appeared that someone had called and complained that people were blocking the private dirt road they had come accustomed to using as a shortcut. Now that the cop car had gone, the unease dissipated and frustration and indignation set in. People asked really tough questions and grappled with the unfairness of the call. The dirt road was private and belonged to the land that the event organizer had permission to use. Someone pointed out that it was sheer audacity that the cops got called on us when the person who called was the one trespassing on private land. “If anything, we should have been the one calling the cops.” A few snickered at this unlikely switcheroo. 

 

Thankfully, the yoga instructor arrived. A camper said, “Let’s find our zen again” A few laughed, one shrugging their shoulders as if to let go of it all. Many of us were just happy that the police didn’t aggravate the situation. A low bar that we are expected to accept- No Justice, Just Peace. 

 

Mike and I stay back with a few others to help break down the site. After about 40 minutes, one camper decided to leave. Unfortunately, she accidentally exited the wrong way into the community of houses. A man and woman rushed out of one of the houses with a phone. It was then that we knew the cops were going to be called, again. 

 

We make a wrong turn, the cops get called on us quickly. They purposefully trespass, we gracefully ignore it, and the cops get called on us anyway. 

 

The caucasity of it all. 

"Where ya going in those flip flops, girl?"
 

Comments 1

Guest - Angela on Friday, 26 August 2022 10:08

Hmmm.... I wonder sometimes if our actions are "graceful" or a mixture of "gracefulness, weariness, and restraint." Whatever they are, I'm past doing it. Thanks for the article.

Hmmm.... I wonder sometimes if our actions are "graceful" or a mixture of "gracefulness, weariness, and restraint." Whatever they are, I'm past doing it. Thanks for the article.
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Friday, 09 December 2022