Even Peter Piper Picks
The Great South Kingstown Dump Picker's Rebellion
By Richard W. Wise
"Hi, I don't know if you remember me," said the voice on the phone. "My name is Frank Frisella. I'm your mailman." Could there be a problem with the mail at 9:30 on a Friday night? I wondered. The voice continued.
"I was told maybe you could help us. Have you heard that the town council has closed the dump? Well, me and a bunch of other guys, you know, dump pickers—we don't see that the town has any right to stop us from picking at the dump."
I vaguely recalled Frank dressed in his gray postman's uniform, a dark-haired skinny guy with a long nose and a bright smile, but I'd had a tough week. My patience was wearing thin, but my curiosity was aroused. What does this nut want, I asked myself. He soon came to the point.
"I was told you are a community organizer and that you help people fight for their rights. Do you think you could help us organize for our right to pick the dump?"
Sure, I organize people. Groups against slumlords and neighborhood redlining, for constitutional and civil rights, but dump picker's rights? It sounded a little frivolous and totally beyond my experience. I began to realize that the guy was serious and not wanting to jeopardize my mail delivery, so, I began asking questions. "Just how many dump-pickers are there?"
READ FREE: Fall Issue:Social Policy Magazine: