Street Market Compromise Interpreted
Carrboro News has been hired by a group(that wishes not to be named)
to interpret to the citizens of Carrboro, the meaning behind Weaver
Street Market's position on Dancing Bruce. Since this is a very
complicated issue and we wanted be sure we were accurate, we assembled
a group that included linguists, psychologists, psychiatrists, historians,
legal experts, psychics, magicians, jugglers, and dancers.
Weaver Street document in Bold
Position on the Lawn
We love activity on
We're proud that the lawn has such a valued place in the community
and that it is the center of so much activity. We have worked hard
over the last 18 years to build the lawn into a community institution
and are committed to its future as a vibrant and active space.
When they use the
term lawn, they are using it very loosely. We believe that they
mean The Common Area. Lawns usually are made up of grass, while
the Commons is made of mostly of mulch, dry solid, little clumps
of grass and green polyester webbing left over from the original
sod that was laid.
They have worked hard
to make the lawn a vibrant and active space(18 years), but this
last move is actually a move backwards, so we'll have to remove
about 15 years of building, so in terms of building of the Commons'
activities, we are back in about the 1992 period. So the future
that are working towards at this point is really in the past.
We want to help expand
the uses of the lawn.
The new "Live
on the Lawn" program provides an additional opportunity for
performers to use the lawn. We have volunteered to do the work to
make the program happen, including providing insurance, coordinate
the scheduling and cleaning up after performances.
This is a little bit
of the old "bait and switch" method of dealing with an
issue. At what point were we talking about 'performances"?
The Community has been talking about a guy dancing on the lawn(excuse
me, The Commons- there is no lawn), a juggler standing by the bench,
someone hooping- they're not talking about a performance. It is
WSM and Millian Management that wants to blow this up into a full
scale performance(by only one person for one hour at a time!).
WSM generously offers
to coordinate the scheduling and cleaning up after the performance,
but that was never something that was needed before they implemented
the new plan, so what they are actually doing is creating more work
for themselves and then volunteering to do the work that was unnecessary
in the first place(and besides that, how much garbage is there to
clean up after Bruce dances for an hour?). The scheduling? Come
on, seriously now... someone has to sign up to practice juggling
on the commons? If you want to have to schedule that...fine....
but don't make it look like you're doing the Community a favor....
The Insurance? This
brings up more questions than it answers. And again, it looks like
something that is being offered, but was it necessary before, or
only now that they have decided to call it a "performance"?
Was there insurance before that didn't cover someone dancing on
the Commons or juggling on the commons before the implementation
of the "Live on the Lawn" performance series? If someone
was walking on the commons and tripped, was he covered? If he was
playing Frisbee and ran into a tree, was he covered? Does this mean
that if Bruce hurts himself while "performing", WSM insurance
will help pay his medical bills? What kind of insurance are we talking
about anyway? Medical? Liability?
Carr mill Mall owns
Weaver Street Market
does not have the authority to grant permission to use the lawn.
For every outdoor event WSM sponsors, we need to request permission
to use the lawn, just like everyone else.
Bait and Switch again?
If you want to call Bruce dancing on the lawn, Bill practicing his
juggling and Mary hooping an "event". Then of course we
need to make this a formal activity that requires permission. When
my daughter plays ball on the commons, is that an "event"
also. When a parent sits on the commons and blows bubbles(not with
her child, as that would be two people and only one is allowed at
a time)...is that an event? When an actor sits on the far bench
studying his lines out loud....is that an event? If so, that means
a debater practicing for his next debate is an "event"?
My 16 month daughter is just learning to dance and loves it. If
she wants to dance on the lawn, does that mean that she is an "event"
and so we must get permission and sign up for her to dance? And
if I want to dance with my daughter, I can't because only one person
can "perform" at a time?
and "performance" are very nebulous terms that make the
whole discussion kind of....well... kind of....blurry. I think we
probably need some guidelines to determine what constitutes an "event"
We appreciate Bruce
Bruce has been a coworker,
a loyal customer and a friend. We look forward to Bruce's continued
presence on the lawn. We are pleased that the "Live on the
Lawn" program will once again permit Bruce to dance on the
lawn, although we realize that it's in a much more limited way than
This is a sort of
pat on the back, "sorry man", relieve the guilt kind of
support for Bruce. If there was true appreciation of Bruce, his
creativity wouldn't have been stifled and he would not have to humiliate
himself and "sign up" for a "performance". As
the holder of the largest and most visible lease at Carr Mill, to
believe that WSM had to come up with the "compromise"
that they say they made is hard to swallow. That is not much of
a compromise, it's more of having the terms dictated to them and
agreeing. WSM definitely wouldn't win any awards for this little
piece of "negotiation".
In Summary, it looks
to The Carrboro News like Carr Mill wanted to ban Bruce from dancing,
but couldn't just single out Bruce, so they had to call what he
was doing something else(a 'performance') and then develop a policy
that was based on these impromptu "events" being called
"performances". Banning a black man from dancing(as they
banned CJ, the other black man from listening to music from his
car) is a risky business and really could get into a complicated
legal situation. But if you call the black man's impromptu dancing
and meditations "a performance" and stick him into a large
group of other people(who to the best of our knowledge are not anywhere
to be seen), then it looks like it's just a little "shift"
WSM for some strange
reason, chose not to fight this battle and came up with a compromise
that is really not a compromise, but more of a total cave in to
Carr Mill. But seeing how the Community is the reason that WSM exists,
they need to justify their stance to their customers and community
and the only way to do that was to blur the issues and present the
solution as a reaction to something that wasn't actually as they
describe it in the first place.
They chose to stand
with Carr Mill at the unveiling of this "solution", which
means they must have had a large degree of respect for the solution
that was drawn up, yet they still have the need to add an asterisk(the
document interpreted above). Had The Carrboro News been in a position
of leadership, we would have certainly not have lent our name to
this "compromise" and would have let Carr Mill present
it as their solution(we would have not problem giving them full
credit- in fact, we would have not wanted our name associated with
the compromise in any form or manner), instead of compromising ourselves
by presenting our support to this new program.