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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle) (162* d) RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers 03 May 10

GUEST Steve, yes, I've played on the grounds of the Seattle Center throughout the year and have, as always, have received wonderful responses to my efforts at offering folk music with my folk instruments while there.

GUEST Davis S., there's no whining going on here. I'm just trying to stand up for my "rights" as described in the First Amendment. I don't play the system. I play assorted stringed instruments, harmonica, musical saw and washboard percussion, if so inclined. I don't have to play "the system", as you call it.

Generations of Americans have fought and died to establish this way of life. You do believe in American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights in this country, don't you? Perhaps you are among those who don't believe that we should have the right to exercise our Constitutional rights on public property, during our country's national holiday, Memorial Day. I am grateful and thankful for the sacrifices made by so very many to offer me this way of life. I treasure my Constitutional rights. Apparently, you don't hold these rights in such high regard. That is your right to feel that way.

I should also point out that this particular event started out as a folk "music" festival that grew to include vendors. It wasn't a vendor event that just happened to eventually include some musical acts.

Lets' make the distinctions clear. Vendors vend. Vending is telling folks, "If you give me $, I'll give you what I have." Street performing is giving away what you have freely. Those that experience what it is that street performer folks do in public spaces also have the Constitutional right to support it in any way they see fit.

Perhaps you believe that those who support street performing are also playing "the system" by doing so. I'd have to agree. They are getting free entertainment, not corporate controlled vended entertainment. Is it any wonder why folks love to support what is freely offered with their applause, smiles, thumbs up, accolades, and yes even dollars.

Well, perhaps, if the shoe were placed squarely on the other foot, you'd be singing a different tune.

Let's play a little game. I call it, "walk a mile in my shoes". Imagine for a moment, that you vendor folks were only allowed to do what the music folks have done for years to establish this event. That is, offer, for free, what it is that you create as your livelihood. (Actually, now that I think about it, I have never been to a craft event, that was established by a bunch of craft folks, who offered their crafts for free, in the same way performance folks offer their entertainment crafts freely but for the sake of this little game, let's pretend that it's possible that such a thing could happen.) Imagine, you could only accept donations, from those who might wish to offer them, in support of what you do as a craft person but you were limited by the same rules that this event uses to restrict street performers. (Check the link in my post above to see that set of rules.)

Imagine not having the right to offer what you do in the shade of a covered walkway, while the same event allowed such access to shade and shelter from rain to every musical performer on the grounds. Note too, in the rules, that you would not be allowed to set up any kind of structure to protect yourself from the elements, like the rain that often frequents this event. (Yep, check the rules. That rule is in there too.)

And imagine what you would feel like if you had some weekend security geeks trump up charges and lies to demonize your efforts at offering your crafts in this way, for free, on the grounds. Then, try to imagine having four police officers escort you off the grounds of this public space and having them tell you that you were not welcomed back for the remainder of the event.

I know it's probably not an easy thing to imagine the above, especially if you're used to following the path of being a vendor and doing all of what that approach to vending your crafts might entail. Now, imagine that someone responded to what happened to you by telling you, in so many words, that none of the lives that were sacrificed by all of those many thousands, to afford you your right to offer your crafts in that manner, meant squat. Imagine that.

The game is over. I hope you enjoyed playing along in this version of, "walk a mile in my shoes."

I can only imagine what those, who have given their lives to protect this way of life, would say to you if they were still around to hear you relate how little their sacrifice has meant to you.

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