"Last fall, when I helped reclaim the site after that JonesCo-sponsored police raid, I learned that you'd offered it to Wendell Jones if the Occupy ever decided to leave. Why'd you do that?"
Carson's eyebrows shot up. "Stupidity, mostly. I'm known around here for my support of the disappearing commons. That's why I set up the public stage, and why people are welcomed to use the food court tables and the free Wi-Fi as their mobile office. But if there's one thing I've learned from all my years in business, it's that things change, and you need to accommodate it when it happens. I figured it was safe to make that offer because I couldn't imagine Jones jumping the gun and forcing the issue. Won't make that mistake twice."
The community center was a particular thorn in Wendell Jones' side. A week after the raid, he'd told his foreman to clear the site while everyone was distracted with his legal move to declare the stipulation fulfilled, and by his appearance at city hall to have the site rezoned. A number of workers refused. They were fired on the spot, and promptly made signs so they could block the remaining crew. Jones lost in both venues, and Carson immediately hired the fired workers. It was actually Buster's sudden brainstorm about creating a virtual district that gave him the idea, but Carson decided to cement his continued ownership of the site by having Jones' former employees erect a modular community center and offering its use to any distributed community that wanted to reserve time there.
* * *
Dori glanced at the framed picture on the wall, a grainy black and white shot of a pair of striking Wobblies from the 1930s, before answering the multiracial woman seated across from her. "No," she said, amused, "Kendrik House wasn't named after that kid in the video." The kid in question was Kendrik Knox, the eleven-year-old grandson of Occupy librarian Natalie Knox. It was her greeting to the riot police last fall that gave them an excuse to clear the site when the People's Mike repeated her words in unison, violating the mayor's new rule against group actions. The video, which had gotten a lot of play in the past half-year, was of him announcing the retaking of the site by supporters who'd seen the arrests livestreamed. "Actually, it's named after his great grandfather, Oscar Kendrik, the old-time union activist in that picture over there. So are we set now?"
"I think so. Reconnected Nikkeijin finally has a place to meet. Thank you."
After the woman left, Althea Gordon, who'd been watching from across the room, rounded the reading table, where a young man was reading a book about the IWW, and sat in the visitor chair. "That was good, Dori," she said. "Have you done this sort of thing before?"
She shrugged. "Sorta."
A young man in a rain jacket leaned in and tapped on the doorjamb. "Excuse me, ladies. Am I interrupting something?"
Althea rose and turned to see him. "Not at all. We were just chatting. Come on in. How can we help you?"
"Well," he said, eyeing Dori as he sat down, "someone from AA told me you folks let groups from the community hold meetings here."
The young man at the reading table looked up from his book.
Dori glanced at him, and then smiled at the newcomer. "We do. I'm Dori, by the way. How can I help you, Mr"?"
"Why be so formal," he said. "Just call me Mark."
Satisfied that Dori could handle the screening and scheduling process on her own, Althea excused herself and returned to her nearby studio to finish fabricating a metal sculpture for the new center's still-bare facade.