Right away, McMinnvillians knew something special awaited at the top of the council meeting–almost as special as me calling them “McMinnvillians.”
“Because we’ve had a last-minute change in agenda, we’re going to ask for Chloe to come up and speak to us for about ten minutes,” announced council President Kellie Menke, “on the matter of a prototype that she has built.”
The 11-year-old Thomas Edison took her seat at the witness table in the vast gulf between the council dais and the audience.
“Could somebody help her get the microphone just a little closer?” requested Menke, noticing that the mic was not prepped for a much shorter human than normal.
“I am here as a support for Chloe,” clarified the woman to her left. “I’m her teacher.”
“This project started in my language arts class. We watched a video on CNN for kids. There was a woman in San Francisco who created a mobile shower unit for the transient population,” explained the teacher. “We were talking about one day very soon, they’re gonna be the leaders of McMinnville.”
So, like any teacher looking to stimulate young minds, what did she do?
“I offered extra credit for anyone who came up with a creative solution.”
Chloe launched into a breakdown of her brainchild–a concept simple to understand, easy to visualize, and with a catchy name.
“The Wheel-A-Bed would be like a small–not necessarily a house, but like a shelter,” she described. “The idea is to make a small, about 7′ x 2′ x 2′ box-like shelter with a hollow inside. It would consist of a blanket or small mattress and small microwave for cooking food. The light bulb would be an LED light. The shelter would be solar powered.”
7′ x 2′ x 2′? That seems rather…casket-sized. But as Chloe pointed out, better this than a real casket.
“Homeless people need a shelter to keep them away from thieves, diseases, rain, criminals, and I think you get my point,” she said. Like a shrewd salesperson, she did momentarily acknowledge the device’s weakness.
“One con is the fact that the Wheel-A-Bed does only fit one person. It would be hard to think of just one way to fund a project like this. I know that my aunts, uncles, and grandparents would probably love to donate.”
“May she come up to show you her prototype?” inquired her teacher.
“Oh, we’d love to see it! Yes!” gushed council President Menke.
Chloe walked slowly across the room, holding up the shoebox-sized model with wheels.
“Very creative!” “Very nice!” complimented the councilors.
“Good job, mom and dad!” exclaimed Menke.
It was certainly a unique prelude to a council meeting. But this isn’t San Francisco, after all. I don’t see how McMinnville–the Paradise of the Pacific Northwest–could benefit from Chloe’s alternative sleeping chamber.
“I can understand the resistance of having RVs, campers, and cars parked in people’s residential neighborhoods, but the people living in these vehicles are still considered homeless,” pleaded the next commenter. “They are still people but are choosing a different lifestyle than most.”
“I’m also here to speak to the RV ordinance,” admitted another woman. “I am really concerned about the fines.”
“On March 21, we are going to allocate a certain portion of our workshop time to vehicular camping,” President Menke reminded everyone.
Well, Madam President, I know an 11-year-old visionary who I hope you invite!