This isn’t a major story, but rather one of those little tells that say to us that civilization as we’ve known it is breaking down.
A nice middle aged white woman set up a “mini-library” (actually a wooden box next to a sidewalk that backs up to her back yard) in order to encourage people to read. But then along came the destroyers to burn it down.
There’s no description of the two arsonists who were seen laughing and running away as the fire was discovered. Whoever they are, their punishment should involve spending many hours of community service helping those in need, such as elderly invalids.
A lack of empathy is killing us. I’m not sure how to teach empathy to those who have no feelings.
Rita King awoke early Monday morning to a stranger banging on the door of her Southeast Portland home.
Something in her backyard was on fire, the young man told her. King looked out from the back of her house: Sure enough, her mini library was ablaze.
The young man had already called 911, but King’s husband called, too, while she grabbed a fire extinguisher from the garage. She tried to put out the fire from the back of the little structure, but the bulk of the flames were inside it, on the other side.
The burning Mt. Tabor mini library prompted firefighters to respond to the intersection of Southeast 59th Court and Stark Street just before 1:40 a.m., said Lt. Rich Tyler, a Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman. Firefighters knocked down the small blaze, which was confined to the library.
“It’s pretty trashed,” King told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Tyler said the fire investigator assigned to the case hasn’t yet identified the cause. But, according to King, the young man who spotted the fire had been walking down Southeast Stark Street when he saw something light up, heard laughter and saw two people running away. King didn’t catch the man’s name, but she praised his quick-thinking.
“He was super,” she said.
King’s library, like other mini models, allowed people to take books and encouraged them to restock the box with more reading. Internationally, the practice has caught on.
Wisconsin-based nonprofit, Little Free Library, promotes literacy around the globe, and according to the organization’s Facebook page, Little Free Libraries exist in more than 70 countries.
King has lived in her Tabor home for six years, and her mini library was erected on Stark Street two summers ago. It’s not officially part of the Little Free Library group, but its goal is the same: To connect people through reading.
“I love them,” she said. “They just create so much community.”
The spot was perfect for a little library, she said, because it was a place where arborvitae – which outlines the back of her home — wouldn’t grow. She needed something to fill the space between the bushes, so in went the library.
The library benefits from the high-traffic area, she said, with people heading to Mt. Tabor traveling by it. Passers-by would stop to both take and drop off books.
The library was constructed with natural wood, and though still mini, it was larger than many other similar operations, King said. Its shelves had a mirrored backdrop. Its roof was shingled. And a pair of glass doors kept the books safe.
King wasn’t sure how many books were inside the library at the time of the fire. The number of books, she said, could range from five to 20 to even 30. The books, she said, ranged from children selections to text books to religious writings to political titles — something for Republican and Democrat readers.
King hopes investigators catch the vandals responsible for the damage. She’s spread the word, posting about the fire on the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Facebook page and including a photograph of the charred, house-shaped library, its upper level visibly gutted.
While she’s frustrated by what happened, King is thankful the damage wasn’t worse. Branches from a large maple tree hang within inches over the mini library, she said, and the fire could have easily climbed up them, had it not been spotted so quickly.
King’s hoping to get the old library out and a new one in. She’s not a builder, but at least one supporter on Facebook has already offered to help with that part.
Note how quickly our people have rushed in to help restore order.
There’s a video of nice lady Rita King explaining how a tree almost caught fire, which would have burned down the neighborhood, at KGW.