Charlie and His Tree Kidnapped by the Physical Plant!

Upon arriving to school Monday morning, Charlie’s mother was aghast to find her son, Charlie, and his favorite plastic tree missing! She was much dismayed to not see her beloved tin-can man, she lovingly named Charlie, atop his hillside next to Pray-Harrold. About to break down, right there on the side-walk, she suddenly realized who had motive to kidnap her son, as the hillside where Charlie stood was freshly mowed, even though it rained over the weekend and it’s basically about to start snowing so there’s no reason to be mowing grass at this time of year, but she also knows his neighborhood association has high standards, so there could only be one culprit responsible…The Physical Plant. Charlie’s mother deftly pulled out her phone and called them up and irately asked, “Why would you kidnap my son! He has expressed permission to be here not only by the administration but by you!” The poor bewildered secretary answered “….umm, hold on a minute.” Charlie’s mother almost felt bad for the poor woman but not so bad as to drop her aggravation at this atrocity. As she waited on hold for a few seconds, her irritation only grew, how could they, they should know better, what if they killed him?! After a minute or two of these thoughts that slowly spiraled her into a deep depression, bordering on craziness, as she considered skipping class and jumping into her car to drive over there to get physical with the Physical Plant, a man with a deep voice answered, “Hello, this is Rob.” “Hello Rob, what have you done to my son?!?” “Oh, yea, we took him. I’m sorry. We thought he was just trash,” Rob tried to explain. “Yes, he is trash,” Charlie’s mother replied, “but he’s trash with a purpose. What have you done with him? Have you thrown him away…?” She asked, as the silence before his next words stretched into what felt like two full days, which was about how long she had been in labor when giving birth to him. “No we still have him. We thought he might be important to someone when my guy called and wondered ‘why is this trash staked to the ground,’ so we kept him. He’s here at the Physical Plant. You can come pick him up anytime.” Thank the lord! Charlie’s mother was so relieved. Unfortunately, she still had a class to go to and assuming that he wasn’t being mistreated in any way, Charlie could wait to be picked up until after her regular school hours. “I’ll be by around two to collect him.”

That class was the longest hour and a quarter she had ever sat through, as her mind kept wandering to Charlie.  Is he ok? Have they harmed him in any way? He’s a very sensitive tin-man and must be handled with patience and care at all times. He only likes to be held in a certain way otherwise his arms get hurt and will fall off, not unlike an iguanas tail except that it wouldn’t grow back without his mother’s help. The class finally ended and Charlie’s mother rushed to her car and drove around campus before realizing, she had know idea where the bloody Physical Plant was. Luckily, she drove past a campus map sign, so she parked the car, jumped out, and ran over it. It was filthy and almost illegible, but she quickly found the Physical Plant on the directory and slowly found its corresponding position on the map. After staring at it for long enough to get a rough estimate of where she was headed, she hoped back in the car and raced to her son to rescue him from his kidnappers.

The Physical Plant was truly a prison with a fence and everything. Before considering how she could climb over it to break Charlie free, she remembered his main kidnapper, Rob, had given her his phone number, so she called him to direct her to Charlie’s holding cell. He was laid out on a table. He could barely hold his head up and in his initial capture they had severed Charlie’s hand! Fortunately, he was otherwise unharmed or Charlie’s mother might have shown them her knew skills with a power drill. His tree friend was similarly unharmed, though one of his branches had been pulled loose. As she surveyed her son and his tree, rob apologized again and even offered to help her reattach his hand. Realizing that Rob must have reverse stockholm syndrome, she finally felt bad for this man and allowed him to put hands on Charlie to help fix him. It turns out, Rob also has great skills with a power drill and made quick work of securing Charlie’s hand. He even helped her bring Charlie and his tree to her car. “I’ll make sure no one messes with him again,” Rob assured her. “Thank you,” Charlie’s mother replied now feeling grateful to this man, her son’s kidnapper, for having the where-with-all not to seriously maim or kill her boy. She was glad that this man would protect her son from his gang of lawn mowing thugs.

On the drive home, she placed Charlie in the front seat next to her so she could keep an eye on him the whole way home. A mother’s worry never truly ends, even when he’s safe and sound once again in her presence. It seems there’s only so much a mother can do. Eventually they all leave the nest and must brave the elements alone, but she would never stop doing all she could for him, not until the day he dies, which wont be for another few weeks. It took a while for Charlie and his tree to settle back into his home at the hillside next to Pray-Harrold. They had gone through so much, she was afraid to leave him without making sure he was secure. Charlie’s mother even set up his favorite footprints behind him that were also saved from sure destruction. The kidnappers had collected them into a big black plastic garbage bag for safe keeping, so to pay homage to them and this unforgettable event, she placed it at the end of the footprints, which actually made it better than before, in her opinion. Also, while securing Charlie into his home, she found a new plastic bottle left on the rocks near his house, so Charlie’s mom snatched it up and used it for the footprints placing it into the prominent position of first footprint. What was stolen had become new again. Even though they had both gone through this traumatic experience, Charlie’s mom felt more assured in her son’s well being than ever before. They were both stronger now. She finally left him safe and sound in his home on the hillside where she would visit everyday there after.





I decided to turn this almost disaster into an opportunity. This story is my creative response to the bathhouse events. Like Janet Kauffman, I used pictures to convey my meaning and enhance the story. I like the idea of having a multimedia collaboration of both the mental and physical image. Also, similar to Kauffman’s topics, I chose to write about the destructive force man has on the environment, as if Charlie, a man-made creation is now apart of his environment, being shaped and molded by the evil lawn mowers; Its not a poop field, but still, it’s similarly amusing. The writing is an ode to Joanna Ruocco. I wrote in very long, extended, rambling sentences, as she often does. I also tried to have very descriptive and dramatic details when relaying the story. As she had in some of her writings, almost all of the details were taken from real life, but re-told in a new and imaginative way. I named my tin man Charlie and told the story of, me, his mother, finding him kidnapped by the Physical Plant. Luckily, the story actually had a happy ending, as it did in real life. This also ties into Ruocco’s discussion, as she writes romance novels that of course always have happy endings. I hope this tale of loss, tragedy, and rescue, breathes new life to our blog in a fun and interesting way.


Reflections on Installation Day

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First, we had many different moving parts to our installation. Kacey created two installation pieces to go in the front lawn of Pray Harrold. One was a tin can man (which was also a steel can man- hard to cut!) with trails of trash behind him and a tree made from many plastic bags. Ethan created stencils of our group’s messages to be chalk sprayed onto the sidewalks surrounding  the Pray-Harrold building including phrases such as “What Will Outlast You,” “Wayward Gum 422 Crew” and “Recycle This Way.”


I myself created an installation to go up on the third floor of Pray-Harrold around the recycling station to draw attention to it, so I can comment more extensively on my intentions and outcomes of this part of the project. At first, I intended on creating three installations which would wrap around recycling bins. However, given the rigor of the semester and some personal events, some real obstacles materialized to my more industrial aspirations. Instead, I decided to go back to creating engaging language and finding a way to make a display in Pray-Harrold that would draw attention to recycling receptacles without impeding the already tenuous recycling collection process. Instead of making an installation that crawled up the receptacles, I used the wall in front of the receptacle to drape a string of bottles with different messages on them and put up posters.


The images and language on the bottles were intended to contrast images of the physical natural world with commercial/unromantic scientific calculations. One bottle has a picture of a forest with “Red pop! Red pop! Red pop!” from a pop bottle cover on it. Another said “Explain Density in your own words:” followed by a picture of a Starbucks cup lying on the ground. Most of the paper for these was collected by myself from recycling receptacles in the library during the week, meaning much of it came from printouts of homework assignments that were never retrieved from the printing machines. Finally, the posters included a map of where to recycle on campus, a simple piece of paper (actually stolen from a Strong Hall garbage heap) with “Brokenness Is Becoming Now and Again” written on it, the final line of Janet Kauffman’s Eco-Dementia. One of the posters said “My Last Will and Testament” with the Amazon logo. One said “On Average We Hold an Item 5 Seconds Before Disposing It,” a statistic we got from the Director of Sustainability at school. The longest one reads, “Things I think about more than the waste I make: American Horror Story, My grandma’s memory, Were you mad at me?, Where did my burger meat come from?, Ethics in politics, Going to Scotland, What would I name my kids if I had them?, All the stuff in my mom’s basement, Graduation, And a moment to spare.” I meant for this poster to shed some less judgemental and more imaginative light around the way that we use our time and the thoughts that we have. Many of these thoughts were focused around continuity and trash, such as having kids and getting rid of my mother’s many belongings. For me, this project’s intent was not to shame people into doing anything. Shaming as a message is well capitalized on our American society. Also, I really have no place to shame anyone or actively direct them in their activities (and seriously question most people who do.) Instead of direct and didactic messages, I wanted people to explore how they use their brainspace and their time.


One of my images of focus was the image of a Starbucks cup, very common on campus, with my names on it. I am fascinated with the idea of how many Starbucks cups have my name on them in areas of trash or in the ocean in general. Images of the posters and the bottles can be seen below.


As for the challenges of installing our group project, the first was finding a time that we were all available to meet (including the weather, that is!) The weather had to cooperate as well! The morning was very cold, which made it difficult to maintain motor control in my hands while I was chalk-spraying. (The bottle installation took around 20 minutes in a heated building, and on a Friday, the third floor of Pray-Harrold is nearly abandoned so I maintained my anonymity!). Passers-by seemed intrigued that we were (apparently) spray-painting the sidewalk.


Installation day went extremely well and the passion of my group members made it flow well. We enjoyed an interview with Olivia Grills from The Eastern Echo. I hope our project brings as many valuable reflections and changes to its observers as it did to me.







Installation Day!!!

We had a crazy, messy, fun day installing our projects! It actually took an hour longer than we expected. It was cold, very cold, but we had a great time. We were interviewed by the Echo today as well, which means our project should be featured in the News section on tuesday! Big shout out to GREEN for helping with the campus map of all of the recycling bins. Our projects were made from recycled materials, so broken is become new.  We hope everyone enjoys our installations as much as we do. See. Think. Recycle! Rob yourself from your gravesite. We only have one world, one campus, one community so lets do all we can to keep it clean. Be mindful of the waste we all use and create, and remember: what will out last you?


what will outlast you trash

Miscellanies: Statistics and Information

While researching some gum statistics, I found these informational photos that susinctly illustrate how toxic gum is for our environment and how to properly dispose of gum. Professor Hume saw this student government poll and sent it to us. These statistics are useful to inform us of student responses to issues of sustainability on campus. Most of these issues were also discussed in the meeting with GREEN. The chalk policy was given to us from administration and its guidelines were followed to obtain permission to use chalk spray and will be followed during the set up of our installation on the weekend of Nov. 10-12. We chose to have varying times for this set up as it will depend on the weather.


sustainablity statisticschalk policy

Gum Installation Adaption

As our original gum installation was turned down for heath reasons, we decided to adapt our project into a social media campaign. We created an Instagram page entitled, the422crew, that will collect a collage of #wayward #gum pictures taken on campus. Students can #becomeagumshoe and find and take pictures of #wayward #gum on campus, post them on Instagram, and tag our page – the422crew. We created a digital flyer to inform students of this project. The flyer has been distributed to many students and faculty and we hope that this project garners some participation from students to expose this sustainability issue of improperly disposed of gum on campus.

#wayward #gum