About three years ago, my friend Tami Brooks and I started a fake grass roots campaign to save the Beavers of South 11th. It all started when I came into work one day after a great big rain, and exclaimed to Tami (who happened to be a coworker at the time), “Hey, I just passed, like, three dead beavers on the way into work today! They were all on South 11th, and they WEREN’T run over!” Her response was to drop her voice conspiratorially and half-whisper, “How do you think they died?” “I don’t know!” I said. And then I added (obviously, without thinking), “Maybe they drowned when the creek flooded from the rain! Maybe they need to be saved from the next flood!” A look crossed Tami’s face. It was a look that anyone knowing Tami Brooks knows meant, “Oh, you may be on to something,” and “There is no way we are getting any work done today, cause now we’ve got a subject to focus on that no normal person would entertain the idea of thinking twice about.” I believe that the last words Tami said to me before we headed off to our respective offices that day were, “Maybe we SHOULD save the beavers of South 11th…”
Now, y’all have got to understand that Tami and I can take the most inane and even insipid topics and turn them into the day’s headlining news story. To say we are hyperbolic (in a rhetorical, not mathematical sense) is a complete understatement. Give us a June-bug-green car with its alarm going off, and one of us'll make it into more than a June-bug-green car with its alarm going off…
So, in between program planning and readers’ advisory that day, Tami created a Facebook page entitled Save the South 11th Street Beavers. She also found (what luck) a cartoon image of a beaver wearing a red life vest with I Look Best In My Life Vest written underneath it. Brilliant. I became the second member of the group. And then, just to give the group authenticity, I wrote the following fake meeting minutes to our fake Save the South 11th Street Beavers meeting:
Although there have been no new reports of beaver fatalities on So. 11th Street, there is still a concern about the health and safety of our semi-aquatic, rodent friends. Several suggestions were made for upgrading our So. 11th roadway with eco-friendly passages that would allow the safe and uninterrupted flow of beavers from one side of the road to the other:
Beadestrian Overpass-Suggested by Jimmy Brooks, this passage would be a structure similar to the pedestrian overpasses common in big-city hospital and school zones. Pros: open to fresh air, can travel at own pace. Cons: Beavers will be at risk in inclement weather.
The Pipeline-This suggestion was made by myself. It is really a simple concept of a level pipeline that will span the roadway; beavers will be able to enter the pipeline at banklevel on one side of the road, travel at their own pace through the pipeline, and exit the pipeline at banklevel on the destination side of the road. Pros: protected from weather, can travel at own pace. Cons: poor airflow.
The Luge-Eric Wright made the suggestion of creating a beaver luge (like the dangerous Olympic sport), which would require the building of an artificial raised track that spanned the roadway. Beavers would be allowed to take a luge sled across the roadway on the luge track. Of course this type of travel will be "timed, and the luger must depart from the start handles within a certain time once the track is declared clear."
Pros: timely travel. Cons: disqualification if the beaver pushes the sled across the finish line.
We were just having fun. But then we had people request to join the group, which was fine, if it had stopped there. But it didn’t. It only stopped after a member of the local TV media contacted Tami to get the scoop on the story. They thought it would make a great feel-good piece…until Tami fessed up that it was a fake group. See, we never dreamed anyone would take us seriously…honestly, we were just playing.