Our visit to Jamerica on Willy Street to hear Martin Deacon talk about his business was on a beautiful, frontdoor-flung-open afternoon in late July. Martin was waiting for us at the raised table looking out the large window. He was wearing shades, and if he were a cat, he would’ve been purring contentedly in the splash of sun coming into his restaurant.
We Sconnies like to talk about our preferred words for things that folks in other parts of the state call something else. You know, a public water dispenser is either a drinking fountain or a bubbler; a soft drink is either a pop or a soda (or a coke, if you’re a transplanted Texan); a long piece of living room furniture is a sofa or a couch or a davenport; the thing you rest your feet on while watching TV is a footstool or an ottoman or a hassock. It’s a fun conversation, because there are different ways to accurately describe the same thing. Last week’s (July 17) Thinking Outside the Big Box Tour Co-Guide, Sergio Velazquez, busted out this topic on the van ride toward the end group.
Which begs the question, is accurate to call one youth a group?
The visit to Rick's Olde Gold is a unique, annual highlight on the Thinking Outside the Big Box Tour. Ricardo Paoli's pawn shop on Willy Street is still a shop. It's got minimal square footage packed to the gills with oddities, essentials you didn't know you needed, collectibles, and enough jewelry to pay every divorce lawyer in Madison many times over. In an era when our country's desperate economy has created a sizable niche, nay, a giant gap filled by pawn supercenters and television networks dedicated to producing reality shows based on the industry, stepping into Rick's Olde Gold gives one the feeling that the shop’s calendar hasn't been flipped in a couple of decades. It's a bit of a time warp.
Once again, Briarpatch youth are encouraged to join this one of a kind competency development group. Participants will learn valuable skills including how to budget money; how to be comfortable in new situations; how to discern where their hard earned money travels upon spending it; how to sniff out great deals; and where to find outside the ordinary jobs.
The 2018 Thinking Outside the Big Box Tour got off to a humble start on Tuesday, June 19 with one client, John E., attending. During this introductory session, John fully participated and got plenty of positive adult interaction with Anthony Johnson, Sergio Velasquez, Alessandra Gaglio, and myself. John demonstrated a solid working knowledge of what constitutes a small business (fewer than 15 employees in his estimation), and was able to identify two family members, who own small businesses (a barbershop owning cousin and an auto repairing uncle). Due to the low turnout, this group was short. John was here from 1pm – 2pm.
If you had asked me at the beginning of 2017 what I knew about my 4th Amendment rights, I would have replied with something along the lines of, “4th Amendment? Hmm. . . . that’s the one that says I am protected from unlawful search and seizure.” On an elementary level, I would have been correct. And that’s all I knew.
Listening to six teenagers talk about their experience working for Briarpatch’s Madison Street Team (MST) during the summer of 2016 is kind of like turning on the Letterman Show expecting Madonna to talk about her latest pop-icon endeavors. Instead of providing another vanilla answer to what it was like working with her current collaborator, the next thing you know, Madonna starts describing how she battles foot fungus by peeing on her feet in the shower. It’s real. It’s honest. It’s intriguing. It’s a non sequitur.
The particular group of MST participants I spoke with in August began dutifully answering my questions about their summer employment highlights and lowlights. In addition to the traditional MST work of picking up trash on the streets of Madison, they spent the majority of their summer assisting custodial staff at various Madison Public Schools with building scouring. Their supervisors, Bryce and Selena, were also in attendance. It was the last week of MST programming, and they were celebrating with pizza. The kids names below have been changed; their responses are real.