You heard about the lack of water in a huge swath of Detroit? They shut off tens of thousands of people because they didn’t pay their bills. Fine. But even those who paid their bills weeks ago are still without water. Either they want certain residents to leave Detroit (and go where?) or they want to have a Urinetown situation on their hands.
It’s not just water. Some have a vision to make food so outrageously expensive that we don’t even need to eat simple foods anymore — we can just choke down soylent green. I’d personally prefer to eat cake, thanks.
For-profit corporations have opened charter schools at the edge of certain neighborhoods and opted to not provide transportation. The result is a flight of middle class families out of what were diverse-income neighborhood schools.
“But you’re not entitled to something just because you want it.”
“Our taxes can’t carry the have-nots forever.”
“If you want something, earn it.”
“Stop expecting handouts.”
These handouts used to be simply the marks of a democratic society. What has changed? It’s no secret that I feel greed is truly the root of all evil. Without expanding the sociopolitical discussion here (though you’re invited to do so in the comments) I want you to meet someone.
Matty Haze is the namesake character of St. Marie-Therese Haze who started a free school during the French revolution, then was given charge of a debtor’s prison and a refuge for former prostitutes.
21st century Matty starts a free school (True Liberty School) with her friend, Libby Seton, using four abandoned Detroit mansions and a couple of vacant lots to run an upper and lower school, a community organic garden (where students grow their own produce for their breakfasts and lunches, several vocational programs, an art and music collective, a secret water source, and a mentoring program.
Libby Seton is the namesake character of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, an American contemporary of St. Marie-Therese, who began the parochial school program in the U.S. with the idea that access to education should not depend upon social class.
MATTY just turned forty. She has been an activist since her undergrad days and has the scars and tattoos to show it. Her ailing father is in exile, headed for debtor’s prison, because he could not pay an old student loan he forgot about that went into default decades ago. Her mother has fled a similar fate by emigrating with her boyfriend to Portugal. Matty’s younger sister, Ferdy, just returned from a stint as a nurse at a school called City of Joy in Rwanda. Clearly something happened to her in Rwanda that left her traumatized, but she won’t say what it was. Ferdy volunteers as a nurse at True Liberty and mentors two upper school students who seek careers in medicine.
LIBBY is sardonic artist type who wears a beret and has posters of hard rock bands in her office. She was left widowed when her husband, Cole, was killed in Afghanistan. She supported her children teaching in a good school in Ann Arbor, but parents started pulling their children from the school because of Libby’s “spin” on oppression in history. Her daughter got a scholarship to military school and moved away at 15. Her younger son lives with his grandparents who are paying his tuition to a private STEM school. Her eldest son is autistic and is in art school learning glass work.
DYLAN THOMAS SETON: That eldest son. Age 22. Refers to years where he barely spoke and did digital art on his laptop. Does janitor work at the school. Navigating young adult hood, romance, jobs, etc. in an autistic young adult.
ERIC TAYLOR: Emergency services coordinator for the Sheriff. Friendly cop who warns Libby and Matty when LE is on a rampage. Also gives them an in to get water delivery and avoid shutoff to the school.
SYLVIE JASPER, ALFONSE WILDE, PIPER GREENE: The three potential seniors in the school. Piper lives with her strung out mom and sometimes is still a prostitute at night. She later shows up at the refuge for prostitutes and even later her mom does, too. Sylvie started the community garden in the vacant lots and wants to study horticulture at Mich State. Her mom died and her dad works two jobs as counselor at rehab centers. Alfonse got his girlfriend Navi pregnant and works nights at different places under the table. They all try to get Navi to come back to school but she doesn’t believe she can do it.
BARON SIGFRIED – the bad cop of the neighborhood who is gunning for the school. Proponent of debtor’s prison, shutting off services, etc. “We can’t carry you people anymore.”
DAHLIA HANOVER – the city manager/code enforcer who’s always hanging around finding things wrong. They must run the water from the secret source through the hidden pipes and fill the water jugs only when Dahlia is not around.
GAVIN JOHNSON – an urban field psychologist who runs the after school program for the younger kids. MATTY’s love interest before she’s taken away.
TIFFANY CORDERO – Brings MATTY to the debtor’s prison to run it. Hostile at first, she may become an ally.
HARRY, TATE, NOEL, JAZZY, KENDALL, PIPPA, LOUISA, VERNON, LELANI, JADE – debtor’s prisoners whose stories will be told over the course.
JOSEPH LEWIN: a journalist investigating the debtor’s prisons.