Liam asked me what I had in my hand.
I said that it was a needle.
He shuddered involuntarily and said, “Ewwww.” I live and work in this neighborhood. So, I immediately understood his reaction. “Not that kind of needle. A needle for sewing,” I said.
The area surrounding McPherson Square Branch is an open air drug market, and we are in the midst of a heroin epidemic. Search “Kensington,” and you’ll see many links to the communities’ drug problem.
From as early as they can understand, the children of Kensington have to be taught to avoid hypodermic needles. They are everywhere around here. Our branch has a dedicated volunteer, Ted, who picks up the needles in the park. One Monday, he found 78.
You simply can’t walk the streets of this neighborhood without seeing someone high on drugs. If you have never seen someone sleep standing while high on heroin, it is a deeply unnatural and disturbing image. They bend and hold positions that should be impossible for all but trained contortionists. I don’t know the psychological effects of this on children, but I find this very troubling.
And the open use and sales provides only a surface peek at a dangerous and violent environment.
I honestly don’t know what to write about this situation. I wrote a draft where I tried to sort through some thoughts, but it is in the trash. The situation here is tragic, and it is neighborhood where our makers are spending their childhoods.
How do we best serve our makers in this situation? Can we provide “normal” interactions with the children, or are we all inescapably part of epidemic (all of action necessarily acting in response to the environment)?
My hope is that Maker Jawn can provide a glimpse at life outside the reach of this epidemic. A place where needles are for sewing and not injecting.