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Beasts In the East

February 17, 2012

By Michael Cohn-Geltner, Proud Service Team Leader

Working at City Year means working with a limited budget.  For events that require food we call local restaurants and ask for donations.  Our leadership development days take place at venues that are either free or have a nominal cost.  For physical service days, local businesses like Home Depot and Sherwin Williams donate paint and other tools.  Even when we go on field trips to museum as a corps, we always strive for free or reduced admission.

City Year does not spend money unless it’s 100% necessary.  This devotion to fiscal responsibility sometimes leads to odd situations.  Our site has hundreds of bulky tools and other odds and ends that require storage.  For years, City Year New Orleans did not pay a dime for this.  A man named Ducky lets us use a rusted, non-functional 18 wheeler trailer that he has on his junk yard.

The location of the trailer has been passed down from corps to corps.  It’s nearly impossible to find it without having a previous visitor show the way. It’s located on an unmarked street deep in an industrial corridor in New Orleans East.  One of the nearby businesses is called “Stonehenge” and specializes in recycled concrete.

Though we do not pay rent on the trailer, there are some unusual risks associated with it.  Bethany Housman, Program and Service Director has mandated that no-one goes to the trailer alone.

A family of wild boars lives in rut under the trailer.  During the summer they burrow deep beneath it and cool off in the shade and mud.  Project Leader Andrew Sheely’s grew up in the Ozarks and explained they’re only dangerous if the mother is there with the piglets or there are multiple males.

When the boars travel too close Andrew knows how to scare them away.  He shuffles his feet so it sounds as though a herd of animals is approaching.  The one time I saw it demonstrated the mother and her piglets, who had been trotting in our direction, scattered.

Feral dogs also live in the junk yard.  Andrew and I were once taking tools out and heard steady pops.  Two men walked out from behind a broken down forklift, one carrying a scoped hunting rifle.  He explained that he was hunting feral dogs.  We told him about what City Year does and he told his about the different guns he had in his truck.

The last time we went to the junk yard, the gate was locked and a mesh grill had been wielded onto it.  Historically, the gate was never locked nor did we have a key to unlock it.  Andrew and I had to drop off some wheel barrows so we hopped the fence and threw the wheel barrows over the top of the gate.

Bethany found out later from Ducky that they were having theft problems.  At the last visit to the junkyard, Andrew discovered that the pad lock to our trailer had been smashed open.  Nothing was taken, as the thieves did not see the value in paint cans filled with kitty litter, or pitch forks.

Realizing the era of the trailer was coming to an end, City Year New Orleans now rents out a storage space across the street from our office.  The unit is climate controlled.  There are lights.  It costs money.  While it is infinitely more convenient to travel to and use, it lacks a bit of the wild, absurd fun, which a trip to the trailer always inspired.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 21, 2012 9:20 am

    Thank you Andrew for the tip on how to get rid of pesky boars. This provides some interesting insight into the consistent yet drastic different service related logistical issues we face across the network. Congratulations on the new location. I am happy to know that although the journey to get your tools may not be as adventurous as before your safety is no longer in jeopardy.

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