Dancing May Return to Carr Mill Mall

Many have expressed concern about a recent action by Carr Mill Mall to ban dancing by free-form dancer Bruce Thomas (even the CH Herald today opined "Let the dancing guy keep on dancing.").

Thomas has been enlivening the Carr Mill lawn for the last few years with his spontaneous, gracefully spiritual dancing. Other times, Bruce can be seen sitting in quiet meditation on one of the nearby benches. And, yes, he is a regular customer of Weaver Street Market.

The ban apparently results from a Carr Mill policy that states that only mall tenants and those attending their events can use the lawn space (thus, Bruce may dance during a WSM event but not otherwise).

To me, Bruce Thomas is much like the mime Robert Shields who became nationally renowned and synonymous with San Francisco's Union Square in the early 1970s (see the opening sequence of Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation for a taste of Shields). With Bruce there is the added dimension of his life story, the difficulties he has overcome, and the role model he offers to others (for background ).

Artistic expression contributes to the culture of downtown and also to the vibrancy of the downtown economy. Individuals like Thomas and hoop artist and instructor Vivian Spiral (also threatened by the ban) become the visible representation of a freedom of spirit and creativity that is identified with Carrboro.

Many people have wanted to take action in support of Bruce. However, a process is underway to review the Carr Mill policy with hopes of rectifying the situation. Weaver Street Market general manager Ruffin Slater will be meeting with mall manager Nathan Milian for a thorough review of the mall's policy. This discussion will begin after Milian returns from a vacation on August 7.

I am optimistic and hopeful that a win-win solution can be found that serves the commercial interests of the mall while opening the way to the continued use of the lawn area by people like Thomas and Spiral as well as the many children (and parents) who enjoy the space.



"That's why the call for a boycott is in the air." Will, If I am not mistaken, that was a part of your post earlier this morning. How am I not to believe that no one here is calling for one? I hope that I am mistaken in assuming that people were serious about this. I have not only heard it here, but from customers and from other websites. My hope with this discussion is that people on this forum will be better informed and will then let other people know that a boycott is not in order, a "springboard" so to speak.

As far as owner get togethers, we do not. Most of us are too busy trying to keep our businesses running. But, as some of my customers know, I am willing to discuss this with them and explain it to them, as I have already done this week, and I thought that I helped her to have a better understanding of the situation. I then called mall management and let them know that there were some concerned customers. So, I feel that we are doing our part to work this out the best we can. I think it is important that we ALL keep an open mind about this and try to see both sides of the story before we start pointing fingers and making threats.

With all due respect Mr. Chilton, as Mayor of this town, I would hope that you would express a little bit more concern for the businesses that operate and pay taxes in your town and the safety of your citizens that shop there. After reading your last comment I have a hard time believing that is the case. Forcing CarrMill Mall to do something they don't want to do is an ugly precendent to set. Perhaps you should try to be a mediator and have things sorted out in a way that makes every one atleast somewhat happy. This would also be a good time to discuss the growing concerns from the businessess that downtown Carrboro is quickly becoming a haven for panhandlers and bums and we have few resources to do anything about it. Any ideas on how we can put an end to that and decrease the need for such strict rules at the mall?

As far as John dancing, I don't think any of us want that. I believe he was hoping you would extend the invitation to Bruce himself. Solving this whole problem.

“That's why the call for a boycott is in the air.”

Just an observation.

For instance, two days ago, Walking over to and through WSM, I ran into two folks that both mentioned Bruce, Carr Mill and boycott. Or, tonight, as I munched on dinner at Elmo's this evening, I overheard a few separate discussions on Bruce, the Hoopers, Carr Mill and a potential boycott.

I expect it's just folks venting but, in any case, it's a meme floating around Carrboro.

Please excuse the edits. My connection is fouled.

For what it's worth, we conducted our first summer point in time count last week. Between the hours of 9:00 pm and 12:30 am, we found 10 individuals sleeping (or walking about) on the streets in Carrboro. I feel no hesitation in saying that at least 5 of those individuals would never step foot onto Carr Mill Mall.

The qualities I most hope for Carrboro to retain as it faces the inevitable challenges of growth are our tolerance and compassion, especially for those less fortunate than ourselves.

Interesting Terri. Who is we? What is the purpose of the point in time count? And what does it mean that 10 folks were sleep/walking?

"With all due respect Mr. Chilton, as Mayor of this town, I would hope that you would express a little bit more concern for the businesses that operate and pay taxes in your town and the safety of your citizens that shop there. "

I am very concerned about the negative effect that this whole situation is having on Carr Mill Mall and downtown Carrboro; Carr Mill Mall's actions could significantly undermine Carrboro's entire economic development strategy (promoting a creative class economy). That is exactly why I spoke with Carr Mill Mall management about the matter.

Some have jumped to conclusions about the Mall's intentions, but I have tried not to. Comments such as "I would hope that you would express a little bit more concern for the . . . the safety of your citizens that shop there" reinforce such concerns. Does anyone out there feel that their safety is threatened by Mr. Thomas's dancing? Surely, Amanda, you are conflating two totally unrelated issues.

Has anyone 'venting' on this blog ever had to clean human excreatment from a public toilet?

I filled in for Stirling when his brother died a few years ago and those of you who are so deeply compassionate will surely understand and may remember.

Or do you?

Mark??? -Deb

Mark, you are completely missing the point. Amanda
was pointing out that Carr Mill Mall, and other
downtown merchants need to be very aware of the kind
of clientele that is frequenting the area, and that
asking people not to use Carr Mill Mall's lawn as a
public park is part of that. You are completely
ignoring the real problem at hand, and that is the
creeping wave of panhandlers that are beginning to
threaten downtown businesses. Your pandering to
public hysteria without even making an attempt to
address the real issues is thoroughly disheartening.

Amanda is just one *very* hard-working business owner
that provides a great service to downtown (and a
reason that Carrboro is as cool as it is) along with
valuable tax revenue. You seem to be unwilling to
take what she and other business owners have told you
seriously, and instead are more concerned about one
man being asked not to perform on private property
simply because of some unfounded public hype. If you
continue to willfully ignore those people making
valuable contributions to Carrboro, then Carrboro may
very well end up with the same problems that Chapel
Hill is experiencing.

Far from ignoring the panhandling issue, I promised Carr Mill Mall management that Carrboro PD would be 100% behind the mall in removing panhandlers from Carr Mill Mall property (or anyone else's private property for that matter). Carrboro PD already provides this service, but if there is anything deficient about it, please let me know. Trespassing on private proeprty is totally unacceptable. All I have asked is for Carr Mill Mall managment to focus on the actual problem.

In fact, John, it is Carr Mill Mall managment that seems to be oddly focused on someone who is not causing trouble, rather than staying focused on those who are the problem (trespassing panhandlers). If there is a serious issue with Bruce's dancing (which is the subject of this thread), then let's hear it.

But Mark, a property owner like Carr Mill's management cannot possibly decide every single situation on a case by case basis. They would have to hire someone full time just to be on premises to judge what is and is not acceptable "performance art" for that space. It isn't realistic to expect that, and the result would be even more accusations of discrimination, if one person were allowed to perform and another was not. I don't think Carr Mill can win no matter what.

So, let's make an exception for Bruce and the Hula Hoop lady. Next month a juggler comes to town and wants to juggle on the lawn---what do you do then? Then a magician shows up, then a jump rope whiz, then a mime, and then..........pretty soon there won't be any room for customers of the mall.

I am not making any judgments about Bruce or any other performer. I like to watch him actually. But the intended use of the lawn is for the customers of Carr Mill Mall, and the mall has been generally a good neighbor with this lawn for a long time, hosting events that the community enjoys and being pretty tolerant in general about the use of the space. The community has liberally used and enjoyed the space and Carr Mill has footed the bill for maintaining the space and providing the clean restrooms and other amenities, as well as pumping 250K + in annual property tax revenues into the local coffers, not to mention the sales tax generated by the businesses in the mall. That's a pretty good deal for the town.

I don't see anyone complaining about Top of the Hill restricting the use of their patio to customers only or Crooks Corner doing the same. Perhaps if Carr Mill enclosed the space and access was through a retail shop it might remind everyone that the space is private property. I don't think anyone wants them to do that, but you have to think of that space the same way you think of the other ones I mentioned. The fact that there isn't a fence around it or controlled access is a great bonus to the community.

Exactly. I have yet to hear what the serious issue is with an individual dancing in a public venue. I'm still not getting the logic behind why Bruce's dancing is the starting point for drawing a line on "acceptable behavior".

Hysteria. Who is sounding more hysterical here: a) someone whose languge utilises phrases such as "those people" and that equates dancing with mugging, or b)someone whose language is simply requesting that the problem behaviors per se (and those who commit them) be the focus of this energy?

As far as Carr Mill businesses are concerned, I don't intend to boycott anyplace just because they're located in the mall. I still think there's potential for a community approach to this situation, and it's going to require that the management's business needs are taken into consideration and met. Definitely. However, if those needs are nonsensical and unfairly extrapolate to valuable members of this community, then people are going to be angry and feel let down by the decision maker.

It's not fair to take that out on business owners if they had nothing to do with the decision, but if people in Carrboro feel less good about shopping in Carr Mill because of a bad decision, then the decision itself should be re-examined. Aren't we supposed to be promoters of the conflict resolution model? Frankly, the position-taking, us-versus-them stands in some of the language I've heard (both pro and con) are polarizing. Not a good thing.

If people basically agree that the true issue here is safety (i.e., prevention of and responsiveness to illegal or dangerous behavior), then there's a place to ground a real dialogue. I really appreciate Amanda's point that the business folk are caught in the middle here, & had little to do with the way this issue has unfolded. The more the buisiness owners (and everyone) communicate about real security concerns, the closer everyone is to resolving this in ways that everyone can feel good about.

ps--sorry Anita--I wasn't responding to you per se. Cross-post.
Also, there are limits on where the lawn could be enclosed, due to where the sidewalk is. There has to be a specific amount of space for someone to get away from a moving vehicle, or so I've heard.

This is becoming mountain out of molehill material. Carr Mill IS banning certain things on a case by case basis. So to say it's unfair to expect them to look at situations case by case is ignoring the fact that they are already doing so. Just let Bruce dance and if nececessary make him do it closer to WSM and not so close to the sidewalks. Also, Deb, yes I have cleaned toilets before. For whatever that is worth.

Maybe I am misreading this or oversimplyfying, but I don't think Bruce or his dancing is the issue...loitering is the issue. And if Bruce is allowed to hang around and do, well, not much, then what do you tell John Q Panhandler when he says, "Hey, the dancing guy gets to hang out all day, why not me?"

I think there you would be making decisions about who can loiter and who can't based on some pretty arbitrary factors (we like Bruce's dancing????), which'd seem to leave Carr Mill open to charges of discrimination. $.02

They didn't tell Bruce he couldn't hang out, they told him he couldn't dance.

I'm totally baffled by this notion that Bruce's dancing is in any way on the same continuum as "panhandlers" and "bums." I also think it's baffling to suggest we owe Carr Mill Mall a huge debt of gratitude. Shouldn't they be thanking us for doing business there? Yeah, it's great that the lawn outside Weaver Street functions as de facto public space. And I know full well that it's not actually public. But taking away public use of the lawn would severely limit the business not just at WSM, but at many Carr Mill Mall businesses.

I have to say I had a lot more sympathy for the various owners of Carr Mill Mall businesses before I read Amanda's posts. Deb made them all seem a lot worse! (Deb, telling folks to "lighten up" isn't going to make anyway want to march down to Carr Mill Mall and drop some cash.)

Elizabeth, I'm glad you are here chiming in as you sound pretty reasonable through all this.

I suspect Nathan had no idea the brouhaha this would create. I suspect he didn't realize that banning Bruce from dancing would piss off more people than letting him dance did. (And who are these Carr Mill Mall customers who are going to mall management and complaining about hula hoopers?! Talk about needing to lighten up!)

I also suspect that if he is actually a savvy business person, he will back off Bruce--indeed, he might even apologize! This all seems hardly relevant to making money, which is really what a mall manager should be all about, right?

So how many of the Carr Mill Mall business owners live in Carrboro?

I actually had a customer today tell me they were glad the hoola hoopers were gone because he and his son both have been hit by the hoola hoopers while enjoying their time at Weaver Street.

I dont' think any of the owners in CarrMill Mall want sympathy. I think we are asking for understanding. Obviously, this is a very sensitive subject. It is also my understanding that it was not Nathan's final decision to ban these activities, it was the Mall owners. Nathan is just the manager, many of the final decisions come from the man who owns the property. We don't feel like the town of Carrboro owes us anything. We are all extremely grateful for the support that the people of this town give us. If it weren't for them, none of us would be in business. No one is taking away the use of the land.

Imagine for a second that you don't know who Bruce is and you have just moved to Carrborro and you go to Weaver Street market and see a person hanging in trees or running around in circles carrying large rocks/bricks in their hands (which Bruce has done). Does this seem normal? What some see as dancing, others may see as craziness. Or imagine that it isn't Bruce, who we all know is harmless, but some other man who has just moved to town that no one knows anything about. Would that still be okay? All of us have varrying view points on this situation. I think its important for us all to remember that we don't all think alike and we all have the right to form our own opinions. The purpose of this blog is open the lines of discussion. However, it seems that there are many people who have already closed the books on this and who aren't willing to think about things in a different way and try to reach a compromise. All I have intended to do with my postings is to give a different perspective on the situation in hopes of keeping this a civil discussion, though it seems that people are starting to get personal. Please remember that Bruce is not the only person asked not to do something at the mall or on the property. As I said in previous postings anyone doing any type of performing, preaching, panhandling, etc is asked to stopped. It has nothing to do with Bruce the person or the color of his skin. The preaching man I mentioned earlier this week was white. Mall management made a decision that they hoped would help to alleviate the problems they are having with the panhandling and bums. They are in no way associating Bruce or CJ or the hoop ladies with these other persons. All they are saying is that by allowing Bruce to dance and CJ to play his music, an environment is created that promotes loitering and brings unwanted persons to the area. A huge effort is being made not to discriminate by banning these things across the board. All of these decisions were being made in an effort to make ALL CarrMill Mall customers feel safe. I'd like to reiterate that what seems normal and harmless to some may not appear that way to others.

Carrboro PD may already provide this service, but clearly, panhandling is not top on the priority list of criminal activity. From what I understand, an arrest cannot be made or a person can not be confronted unless they are on the property. Well, by the time PD gets the call, decidedes to repsond, and then walkes all the way over to the mall, the person is gone. All they have to do is cross the street and there is nothing we can do about it. And, 10 minutes later when PD is gone, they come right back. I've dealt with PD several times and i never felt like the officers cared, it just seemed like we were a waste of their time. It would seem helpful if we could stop the problem before its starts by not giving these persons the opportunities to panhandle, steal, etc... If we don't create an environment that appears to be a public place where people can do what they won't, then perhaps this won't be such an issue? Just a suggestion.

Thanks Terri for the heads up on coming "Community Initiative to End Homelessness" report. It covers Orange broadly, correct?

I'm also a frequent visitor to WSM, Elmo's and the Mall in general (I guess a "loiterer" by a slight modification of your definition "intending or have shopped, but end up sitting a spell because I can't pass up a pleasant conversation on the front-lawn"). The dynamic I observer at WSM is quite different than the our (Chapel Hill's) downtown.


Back in the old days of the 70s and 80s, we didn't have a 'panhandling and bum' problem in this community. Probably because citizens and merchants alike took it upon themselves to feed people who lived on the street. Back then, the community, including merchants, rallied around those who were dealing with hard times instead of criminalizing them.

Although I have never encountered a panhandler at Carr Mill Mall, despite being there 2-3 times a week, my suggestion to you is to deal with those that you do encounter in the same way Bruce has asked the community to deal with the mall managers/owners-- with love.

I'm not suggesting an "adopt-a-bum" program, but of the individuals I have spoken with during the Carrboro point-in-time street counts, not a single one is looking for a hand-out. They are asking for help though. I imagine you or I would do the same if we were hungry or denied the opportunity to work due to mental health reasons. And for what it's worth, even those who live on the street distinguish between the true homeless and those who are here in this community just to panhandle. We have a reputation for being a caring, concerned community which does have its downside.

One man, an acknowledged alcoholic, who cannot stay at the shelter because of his problem, explained to me that he can't get a job because he drinks (not on the job) and then he drinks more because he has nothing to do without a job. One of our local merchants has now hired him, and he was sober the last time I saw him. Bless her.

And by the way, in response to the loitering issue.....I see an awful lot of folks hanging about on the lawn with computers and print reading materials. Merriam Webster defines loitering as "to remain in an area for no obvious reason." If the mall definition means 'not intending to shop,' then it needs to be applied across the board IMHO.

Will--the homeless count was conducted by the assessment committee of the Community Initiative to End Homelessness. It's typically done in January but this year we also counted in summer since we all expected the summer number to be significantly higher than ain January. That hunch was correct in Carrboro. Official numbers for the street count and shelter count across the county will be available within the next week or so.

Thanks, Joan.
Amanda, I'm with you in terms of desiring safety and wanting to respect all opinions. And I think you'd agree with my point(s) that regarding the safety and enjoyment of this space, we all should contibute as responsibly as possible to the total well-being of everyone.

But, that should include everyone.
And just as we can love something to death,a unique thing can also be smothered to death in the name of security.

There are perhaps no simple answers to these issues. At the heart of whatever this conflict consists of, is this kernel of truth:
--the very crowds (including some whose behavior technically falls in the "loiterer" category) that cause worry and concern also benefit the mall because they include business traffic. The expressive elements among us must play a strong role in what attracts so many people to want to do business here. If not, the shoppers would go to Food Whole, Breadmen's or University Mall (I wasn't simply being snide when I suggested a trip to University Mall if anyone needs to boost their appreciation for a crowd).

So perhaps what we have on our hands is a need for qualifying *and* quantifying. If people understand what is really needed to sustain safe access to this space, we can all pitch in to make sure criminal behavior is watched and corrected. For us non-crimimals and our eccentricities, we could help set realistic guidelines for tempering what amounts to too much of a good thing.

For those concerned about too much Bruce-dancing et al: the unavoidable fact is that the very same Carrboroism that loves to be here and buy here, also gets a bad taste in its mouth when creative expression, harmless in its essence, is restricted in the name of controlling criminal activity (between which anyone should be able to differentiate). People, like me, don't feel good about the number of times we're hearing dancing and music and schmoozing being equated with stealing, drunkenness and messy excrement.

Also, when you have crowds, you have crowds, be they dancing, talking, and/or buying millions of dollars worth of merchandise. I don't think that eliminating what's being called "loitering" is going to change the fact that a busy store provides an opportunity to steal and run. And I do think that it's easy to tell the difference between Bruce's behavior and someone that's waiting for a theft opportunity.

If the management wants to have a dialogue about how much is too much, or during what hours, or under which conditions--I'd be happy to participate and listen. I just hope they remember that song about paving paradise to put up a parking lot. My ultimate view is that it's a crime for Carrboro (or anyone) to have to lose one atom of fabulousness. Everyone may not feel the same way, but sometimes you really don't know what you got 'til it's gone.

Anybody remeber the dance riots at Wake Forest in the mid-50"s?

The administration banned dancing on campus, so lots of students brought phonographs to the center of campus, turned up the rock 'n roll, and danced.

Yeah, Mark--I wasn't born yet, but the spirit is alive, I guess, since I've heard about 20 people so far speak about staging a "Bruce-in".

Amanda - let me get this straight: you are saying it was not Nathan's final decision, it was the mall owners? Out of Maryland? Or are you saying the store owners are the deciders here? It's unclear to me. If the former, do you really think the folks in MD are concerned about Bruce? And this continued equating of Bruce to a bum is unseemly.

I think there are some areas of concern. For instance, I think the sidewalk running up to the CM entrance by the ATM machine should not be a hangout where smokers are encouraged to congregate and I'd be for the mall trying to keep that entrance more clear.

But let's face it: living in any community - much less Carrboro - brings upon it some expectation of running into "weird" people. If "normal" people can't handle that then frankly I think that's their problem. There are plenty of places around where "weird" people aren't welcome. Let's not make the CM/WSM lawn one of them.

Terri- First, I am a little offended. It seems as though you have decided to make judgements on my character without even knowing anything about me. Not once have I equated being homeless with being with being a criminal. I do not You have no idea what my opinions about homeless people are or how I treat them. For all I know the panhandlers have homes to go to. I spend 10 hours a day 6 days a week at the mall, I think there are far more opportunities for me to see these types of things.
Second- How am I supposed to treat the person who walks up to my counter asking my teenage customer for money, and refuses to go away when asked? How about the guy who physically blocked a man from getting into his car to drive away because he wouldn't give him money? These are the types of people I am referring to, not the homeless man down on his luck trying to get help and make something of himself.
I agree that loitering has a very wide definition and can be applied to many instances. However, the cases I am referring to and the ones that cause the most trouble are the ones where people are begging for money, taking "showers" in the bathroom and being a nuisance. I am not referring to the man typing a paper or the moms catching up over a cup of coffee. Elizabeth makes a good point, in every crowd there are going to be trouble makers and perhaps we do need to quantify and qualify what we mean. But the main point here is that we all need to be aware that Nathan and company made a decision that we may not all agree with, but it was his decision. I don't think hostility and threats are the way to go about solving this dilema. Whats the saying? You'll catch more flies with honey? Get the point. Nathan will respond better to civil discussions about ways to remedy this. Again, we all need to respect the fact that we all have the right to think and feel how we want to, also one of the great qualities of the town of Carrboro. I would hate to see the town start forcing people to act or do things they don't want to just because other people disagree with it.

David-From what I understand, it was not Nathan's decision, it was the property owners, I'm not sure where he lives. It was not a decision made by store owners within the mall. Apparently he does have an issue with Bruce, as well as the many other perfomers, solicitors, panhandlers, and etc. I have not once equated Bruce with a bum. Like I have said over and over, Bruce, himself is not the issue, its the dancing at any time and place he sees fit. He is more than welcome to dance during the live music performances on Thursdays and Sundays, not to mention he is welcome on the property at any time as long as he doesn't dance. "Weird" and "normal" people alike are all welcome on the Weaver Street lawn and on the property, they were just asked not to perform or panhandle or preach etc...

I am sure that the mall management would be happy to hear your concerns about the smoking corner, I too find it to be unappealing and am all for a place not so out in the open for people to go and smoke. "Weird" and "normal" people alike are a

three things.

first, bruce and hula hoopers have nothing to do with drunks, pan handling or bums congregating in the vicinity of carr mill mall. so, even to mention this is a non sequitur. if that's the real problem, then carr mill should focus on that and not something else.

second, several states have statutes and legal decisions, affirmed in by the supreme court in the pruneyard case, that affirm claim rights by individuals against property owners to practice speech and expressive activity if the property owners have arranged their property so as to invite the public in for use. in short, if you don't gate it, and you invite everyone to use it, then you are subject to a variety of laws guaranteeing freedom of use. this may not apply in north carolina, but it does apply elsewhere. so, to borrow phil's phrasing, having private property rights in some land does not ipso facto make one Lord King over that land.

third, let us suppose that carr mill owners have a right to exclude people from their land. we cannot say that the owners are acting illegally, but we can criticize them for acting immorally or, less seriously, mean-spiritedly.

now, it sounds like the main concern of the owners is that bruce and the hula person are annoying some of carr mill's customers. so the rationale for excluding these people (or their activities) is that these people's activities are annoying. now, let us consider the following example. suppose all those 20/early 30 something childless carrborians who stumble hungover to WSM on Saturday and Sunday mornings suddenly organized and deluged the Carr Mill management with the following complaint:

"All those children running around and making noise are driving us up the wall. They are spilling our food, which we paid for, and sometimes even spilling our coffee, which we paid for and which is dangerously hot! We're cool with kids being at WSM, but they better freaking be QUIET and STILL."

Now, the owners of Carr Mill could order all parents with their rambunctious tykes off of the lawn of WSM. Or, they could say to the bleary-eyed hipsters, who spend lots and lots of their discretionary $$ at WSM:

"deal with it. this is carrboro. we are a town that encourages kids to have some safe fun and this green space is just such a location for that kind of fun. if you want to go somewhere quiet and boring, then head over to north raleigh."

or they could say

"you're right! no more loud, dirty kids at wsm! ever! bwah ha ha!"

the point here is obvious. carr mill mall is acting in a mean-spirited manner. they may be free to do so, but it reflects poorly on them.

i hope that the carr mill people relent.

from an ex-carrborian who misses it.

Terri, Thank you for choosing not to boycott these small businesses in Carr Mill.

To clarify, I am the owner of The Original Ornament, the bead shop in Carr Mill. Amanda is "an owner of a business in CarrMill Mall", but not the bead store.

Thank you for supporting your locally owned businesses.


I'm sorry you were offended. Writing on a message board is an imperfect form of communication. It sounded to me like you and certain others were drawing a connection between Bruce, the hoopers, etc., crime and panhandlers/homeless. That offended me.

I love your beads and wish nothnig but the best for your store. I would not support a boycott of any of the merchants at the mall. And I think we should insist one a big bold line between discussions of performnace art and crime/homelessness.

Perhaps the town of Carrboro could initiate a performance license as a compromise:

Here's an idea: What if the town closes Weaver Street between The Spotted Dog and the police station, creating a publicly-owned space adjacent to the Weaver Street lawn. That would provide a place for dancers, hula-hoopers and guitar players to co-exist with those of us who can afford lunch at the salad bar. This mixture of people is what makes Carrboro a great place to live. If the property managers don't understand this, perhaps augmenting WS Market's outdoor cafe with a genuine public space would preserve both their property rights and the essence of Carrboro. It might also discourage people from driving downtown, which would only enhance the ambiance. Do we need both East Main and that section of Weaver cutting through the middle of town? What do the traffic engineers out there have to say?

No-one has to drive on that one block of Weaver Street, though. Closing it has been discussed before and is certainly a real option for Carrboro to consider.


The traffic engineering study recommended making Weaver Street one-way. The mall manager spoke out adamantly against the idea, saying it would kill retail in Carrboro.

That would simply kill downtown. People have to be able to drive to get downtown. None of the businesses in downtown Carrboro could survive on the people who can walk there.

Ruby, if you'd stop typing and think for a second, you'd realize that closing Weaver St. in any way would jam up traffic permanently along Main St. Closing Weaver St. is not an option. Not only that, but it's completely pointless.

Would everyone please start using their last name when posting comments? or a last initial? :)

I ask because I think people would like to know who they are debating with. If you've identified yourself earlier, thank you. But because of the volumes of long posts its hard to wade through them and find singular information. We need to ID ourselves each and every post. Many of you have done an excellent job of this and prevented confusion.

BTW... a link to your website would be helpful too. Blogs are a great way to establish who you are on the web and a honest method of communication. Get one today!

Thank You!
-Brian Russell aka Brian R.



There was panhandling in Carrboro in the 1980's. I spent a LOT of time walking around behind a stroller in Carrboro in the '80's. (My sons were born in '85 and '88.) I got accosted (and I do not use the word "accosted" lightly) regularly. I always offered to buy food--rather than give money--and was seldom taken up on the offer. Not too politely, either. My kids learned some interesting words...Didn't stop me from walking around my town--but then I'm not the timid sort.

And who can forget "Panhandlers Park?" It used to be on the empty lot where the late Ted Bleeker (hand)built his beautiful studio. There were always guys hanging out there, drinking out of brown paper bags... Guess the late Mr. Bleeker's studio/gallery could be considered "gentrificatrion..." I thought that was considered a GOOD use of space? What about Padgett Station?

Honestly--the lawn at WSM is PRIVATE (commercial) property--and has always BEEN private property. I don't believe the town EVER owned it.


Just realized I left the "c" out of Mr. Bleecker's name--

mea culpa.

It's a beautiful building...I hope the new owner's appreciate it!


New OWNERS. I really miss the "preview" feature.



I know we've always had criminals who lived around the community--been victimized myself. But I don't remember the panhandlers. Maybe they recognized that I was too poor to help them? :)

Or maybe you just weren't going "walkabout" as often as I was. Both of my boys started infancy as colicky critters...I spent a LOT of time pushing that stroller. ;)


YAY for someone bringing up the smoking by the entrance issue--I have to run like hell to get from my work building to my cup of coffee. I'm fond of most of the people who are there smoking, but I'm asthmatic & allergic as hell to the cigs, so my health gets compromised for the convenience of someone else's addiction.

Amanda, I appreciate that you don't want to be construed as equatnig Bruce with a "bum". That being said, perhaps what's being disagreed with in your discussion so far is the equation of free-style dancing with threatening, illegal, or unsanitary behavior.

I get where it's been said that a line has to be drawn "somewhere" in tems of behavior that causes problems for others--I just completely disagree with drawing that line with the dancing on the lawn that Bruce does. This dancing hasn't and wouldn't hurt anyone, and it doesn't encourage bolder actions from people who choose to commit crimes.

I certainly hope that the owners will be more responsive to reasonable dialogue than to anger, and I hope that works both ways. There seems to be much local agreement that their decision was not a good one, and it will be really civilised of them if they're open to clearly hearing what people have to say about it without getting angry themselves.

As far as that great traffic issue goes: I'm agreeing that it's not as simple as just closing one street without opening up another connector, too much pressure on one throughway. I thought that one idea was to open up traffic from Lloyd to the other side of the Harris Teeter lot. I've also often wondered whether that chunk of Weaver street could be closed during some limited times and days(such as Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings, maybe more), but open during delivery and rush hours on weekdays. Is there a forum in which this gets discussed?

Pardon me if I missed a previous comment on this, I searched and didn't find anything about payment.

Is Bruce asking for payment? Does he put down a hat and ask for money? If not, then how in the world is this "performance" and not just some guy dancing? Is it legally possible to ban ONE PERSON from dancing? I can't imagine that would stand. With the hula-hoopers, which now include my 5 and 3 year olds, there is an obvious "sale" going on there, which could ruffle some feathers. But, some guy dancing and not asking for any money, just dancing?

Lastly, did anyone else notice this quote from the Herald Sun story?

Now, even if others are dancing, Thomas says he will refrain. He served 17 years in jail for a bank robbery in the 1970s in Florida and is still on parole. He says he fears if he is cited for dancing, it could affect the terms of his parole.

"This gentleman has no fear of going to jail unless he continues this dance thing," Milian said.

Nice, very nice.

David M--

What, exactly, do you propose that the small business owners of Carr Mill Mall do about Nathan's edicts? I'm talking specific suggestions. It's all very well and good to warn them that they will be lumped part-and-parcel in with a mangement by that you perceive as "arrogant, heavy-handed, and wrong-headed" in it's policy. Wouldn't it be better to offer up some realistic suggestions? More importantly--how do you know that said business owners haven't already DONE something?


As far as that great traffic issue goes: I'm agreeing that it's not as simple as just closing one street without opening up another connector, too much pressure on one throughway. I thought that one idea was to open up traffic from Lloyd to the other side of the Harris Teeter lot. I've also often wondered whether that chunk of Weaver street could be closed during some limited times and days(such as Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings, maybe more), but open during delivery and rush hours on weekdays. Is there a forum in which this gets discussed?

Elizabeth: This idea was tossed around by some people several months ago (NOT by any business owners), and the rumor was that Nathan of Carr Mill Mall thought that it was such a bad idea, that he promised to disallow use of the lawn by any tenants if the town went forward with this idea.

But if you'd like to discuss this, you'll have better luck at http://squeezethepulp.com. This (OrangePolitics) is a personal blog that is heavily censored (I saw a fantastic post in this thread that was removed just a few days ago, in fact). SqueezeThePulp allows for free, open discussion of ideas with the only moderation being to remove personal attacks and spam.

The Lloyd Street/HT connector is unlikely to happen on account of the railroad track and (surprise!) opposition by Carr Mill management.

Closing that block of Weaver Street to vehicular traffic has public safety and economic implications. Fire and Police go into a state of high alert when it's closed for the occasional town-sponsored parade or event. Public Works has to erect barriers and stay on task for the duration. We're talking thousands of dollars in staff time.

More to the point of this thread, all we can do is wait and see how the Carr Mill manager spins the worst public relations disaster of his career.

Now that you mention OP policies - including removing off-topic and trolling comments - you may know that we also have a policy asking folks to reveal their full name when they get very invested in the conversations here (as Brian mentioned above). I think this makes the dialogue more balanced and makes folks more likely to listen to people whose identity is clear.

Care to participate, "John?"

Robert, yes--I was disturbed by that chunk of reporting as well. It sounded a lot like a threat, and it made me feel like organizing concerned Carrboronian customers into 12-hour dance shifts, one person every 15 minutes, to dance on the lawn from 8--8 daily (music optional).

But that's not going to get us anywhere right now. I'm wondering when this dialogue with the manager et. al. is supposed to take place?

Sign me up for a dance shift! Seriously.

You definitely don't want me to dance. Unless my wife and I brush up on the ballroom we took at the Arts Center last year!!!

I'm looking forward to Nathan's return from vactaion. And you know what? I have a feeling the everything is going to work out all right. I'd like to hear the management's rationale, but more importantly I'm sure that when both sides have spoken their minds that a solid win-win solution will be effected.

Elizabeth mentioned a dancing protest, but I think Amanda really hit on something in her comment suggesting a slacious strip-tease!

Just kidding.

We are still a small town and one of the luxuries of that is that we don't need blanket rulings. If pan-handlers are really the issue, let's focus on them and not the individuals that make proud that Carrboro is my home.

I am not calling for a boycott, and I doubt if I have the stomach required to sustain a confrontational attitude.

But the merchants of Carr Mill need to understand that some of us quiet, peaceful and timid citizens of Carrboro have been deeply saddened and intimidated (in a jack-boots-coming-towards-us kind of way) by what we perceive as an arrogant, heavy-handed, and wrong-headed policy.

You cannot divorce yourself from the manager's (or owners') actions. Like it or not, their policy is now your policy.

And I, for one, as an iconoclast with weird and mystifying ways, prefer to do my shopping in places where my zaniness might not be interpreted by others as dangerous or delinquent (I am always on the brink of breaking out in song (or secretly resorting to parenthetical remarks) or dancing wildly, (oh, to be Bruce on a summer day!(if I could but once get my punctuations under control, I would self-destruct if not for the joy of Bruce, people like Bruce, people who like Bruce, people who would like to be more like Bruce, and people who get Bruce.

Even the people who merely allow Bruce

to be Bruce.

I think you have hit upon a new OP phraseology!

bruce - enjoyment without embarassment

to bruce; (brucing) - to enjoy one's self without caring what others might think about you.



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