Dancing ban update

¡La danza continúa! Demostrations against the Carr Mill dancing ban and Weaver Street Market's "Live on the Lawn"program will continue with a dance-in today at 5:30. See how much fun we had last week, and read on to learn more about what's going on...

From Tamara Tal:

For more of that community magic…

We're Alive on the Lawn!

Same time, same place, same dance… let Carr Mill know that we're still here. Bring your friends, musical instruments— and your dancing shoes!

WSM lawn, Wednesday, August 30th 5:30 PM, the Carrboro community dances back!

Please forward widely.

From Sammy Slade:

The discussion and Footloose movie on Sunday night, I felt, was a success. At the event, I didn't get a chance to publicly thank the OWASA precinct Democrats (Owls) who co-sponsored the event and the County Democrats (Donkeys) who then lent us the projector. I would also like to thank our mayor Mark Chilton from whom I originally got the idea of showing the footloose movie while we were chatting at the Weave the morning the Footloose Bruce story broke in the Chapel Hill Herald.

I've included in the wiki the general minutes of the public/community meeting at the WITT from August 27. Please visit and edit in corrections or additions. Please try to have a username if you do this. In this way we may better engage with eaach other about our contributions.


And from Michal Osterweil:

A Response to “Live on the Lawn” and Ruffin Slater's Letter

To whom it may concern:

We, residents of Carrboro, and consumer-owners of WSM– are grateful for the letter issued by the general manager of Weaver Street Market explaining the difficult situation WSM finds itself in when dealing with this matter. However, there were several core issues and concerns we feel his letter, and the continued policies on the lawn, have not adequately addressed.

First, while we are not interested in accusing individuals like Nathan Milian of racism, to the best of our knowledge, to this day the only people who have been banned, and asked not to dance are African American. Regardless of the intention of individuals involved, this is defacto discrimination.

Second, beyond racial discrimination, we believe that Carr Mill Mall is treading on dangerous ground when they begin to differentially allow people who look and act a certain way to dance, whereas others, who do not fit within their comfort zones are banned. Along with Ruffin Slater, Weaver Street Market, and Bruce Thomas himself, we agree that this issue is not about Bruce. And that it is about much larger issues. However, we differ on what those “other issues” are. We are fundamentally concerned about the kind of community we have if we allow and tacitly support discrimination. Questions about deciding what is and is not appropriate movement, what classifies as dancing and what doesn't, as well as who is and who isn't seen as violating this—raises several concerns in this regard. While we do not want jeopardize Weaver Street Lawn activities—especially the Thursdays and Sundays events we hold dear—we are not willing to support them if it means also supporting discriminatory practices.

Many others have continued to dance and they have not been asked to leave. While at the moment it might seem better to maintain some lawn privileges by hoping that we can redress these particular instances of discrimination on a case by case basis—as WSM has suggested we do for Bruce— we believe the implications of this approach are quite frightening. It implies that property owners who benefit from offering a quasi-public space ought to simultaneously exercise their de jure right to discriminate and choose who is and is not acceptable. Discrimination in such an environment is unacceptable.

Third, we support Carr Mill Mall's efforts to ensure public safety and a convivial atmosphere for its tenants and customers. In particular, illegal activities like public drunkenness, drug use and shoplifting should not be tolerated. However, it is not appropriate to profile certain people as being more prone to engage in these sorts of activities. This amounts to preemptive actions that, like racial profiling, often result in unwarranted harassment and discrimination. (Considering the current climate in this country and throughout the world in this regard, the presence of this behavior in Carrboro is particularly disturbing).

Fourth, the fact that the WSM lawn happens to be private property does not negate our constitutional rights. These include prohibitions against discrimination and guarantees to freedom of expression. Forty years ago, residents of this community struggled to end discrimination in public accommodations. Regardless of the legal rights of private property owners, morally and ethically as residents of this community we cannot allow Carrboro to go backward. Should Carr Mill Mall persist with the current policy, we will use our power as consumers and as residents to press for change.

Finally, while we understand that private property is something Americans hold very dear, we also recognize that it is the community that ensures the right to private property and that sustains whatever economic value such property might hold. We feel it is no small matter that the banning of these individuals is one among a number of steps Carr Mill has taken to rid the lawn of its role as the functional commons of Carrboro. Thus, we want to pose the question about how far we are willing to allow the rights of single and corporate property owners to override the collective good of the community from which they benefit.


Michal Osterweil
Brian Russell

* We are planning to have copies of this statement at the silent dance-in today, and welcome anyone else who wants to add their name to this statement.



I just wanted to make it clear that I worked on this letter with Michal. I fully support its statement. Also, while I technically don't live in Carrboro (the Chapel Hill / Carrboro line is in my backyard) I love it with all my heart and am willing to fight for it! 

Just to clarify...

TODAY, August 30, 2006, the community of Carrboro will meet to silently dance and perform on the lawn to illustrate how the types of performances now banned by Carr Mill Mall are a non-disruptive and safe mechanism by which we engage fellow Carrboro Community Members.

In addition to being silent (difficult for me! but I'll do it), what can we do to make tonight's participation different? I was speaking to someone just now about the pros and cons of taking different approaches to working this out. It seems possible, according to a few people's experience, that repeated "protests" will be responded to with police, and then "tresspassing" and then arrests, banning, etc. While I'm willing to stand up for my beliefs surrounding these issues, I still desire trying some more reason first. Such as inviting the owners of this property to a planned visit, in which they can hear firsthand what the space they own means to the community that surrounds it. I'd like to give them an appropriate context within which to comprehend their perceptions of the Lawn. I really don't think they understand what they own.

Which leads me to something I think worth observing: I understand that with some commerical properties--the buildings, not the businesses that occupy them--the owners can avoid losses of revenue, even if the business occupants leave and take their rent payments with them, due to tax write-off codes in the system currently in place. I wonder if this is one reason why the management and possibly the owners of CMM would be less responsive to the desires, preferences, and beliefs of the people who do business here. If so, then protests, letters, and all such responses to this situation may not have the leverage (money-wise) with a property ownership that it otherwise would with a commercial business entity.

I don't mean to imply that the work on clarifying and requesting revision of the situation shouldn't go on as desired. I want my efforts to make as much of a difference as possible, and that takes careful communication, preceeeded by clarity and prioritization (such as in that well-written group letter).

As stated in the letter, I believe what's taken place comes down to a simple set of issues, such as discrimination and community participation. Meanwhile, in some conversations I've read up on since I got back, the discontent with this situation is framed as creative people/weirdos versus property owners/libertarians, and gets blown up into Resolution Neverland by intentional misunderstandings and de Beuvoirian "othering". I've about had it with people being more married to and invested in their positioning, than with some simple and basic solutions. I can only guess at the political contradance that took place during the meeting behind closed doors. How sad.

Does anyone know what the punishment is if people defy Carr Mill's wishes? Do they have the ability to have people fined for dancing, or will they call the police? Will the police escort them from the premises, or cart them off to jail?

I can't come this evening, but I might be willing to go to jail for dancing when I was asked not to.

Just wanna know the consequences

They can call the police, and have people "tresspassed", and for what, I have no actual idea. Disorderly conduct? Malingering? It would be great to stay one step ahead, by doing something different each time.

Actually Elizabeth, I don't think they even have to have a "reason" to ask you to leave. It's private property and you are essentially there as a guest of the mall.

If you are trespassed, you may not step foot on mall property (WSM, HT, mall, Elmos) for one year.

Interesting conflict. I work upstairs. (and no, I don't know anyone up here who's complained about anything on the lawn--but I haven't been located here that long). Wonder how I can get into my office if I'm banned for a year.

I was at the Dance-In. I don't think that this evening anyone needed to worry too much about the police. Two officers walked down the sidewalk adjoining the store with barely a glance to the group of dancers and drummers.

On the other sidewalk, the one adjoining the street was standing someone already "trespassed." It was really depressing - standing there talking to him while just beyond me the kids (including mine) were running around and the people were dancing.

Also in terms of the one year without setting foot on the property - are people being trespassed and then not coming back for a year because that's what they are told or are people going to court and having that handed down as a sentence ? (I guess I should have asked the "trespasser" while I had the chance, but I had to run a very small girl to the bathroom.)

"... I don't think they even have to have a “reason” to ask you to leave. It's private property and you are essentially there as a guest of the mall." (Anita Badrock)

I'm not so sure that is entirely true either. If that argument is followed to its logical conclusion, then Denny's could not only refuse to serve black customers, they could have them trespassed too. Certain constitutional protections should still apply-- for example landlords legally cannot discriminate based on race, etc... and I'm sure that some landlord/tenant laws would apply as well as the language of the actual lease.

For example, while CMM could cancel WSM lease because their business was disrupting the mall (or even for no reason if the lease so stated), I would doubt that they could legally disrupt WSM's business by targeting and trespassing people thought to be likely owners, employees, or shoppers or because they were black, female, Jewish, handicapped, moved or looked funny, or because they were two people of the same sex holding hands-- unless they were somehow being otherwise disruptive themselves. That would put the police in the position of enforcing discrimination. CMM businesses are NOT a private, members-only organization-- which may have discriminatory membership rules, but legally would be having someone trespassed for not being a member or guest rather than for being a minority, etc.

I'm not sure about this, but I think I remember that a sign or representative of the property must inform you to leave and the police having to actually see/catch you on the property to trespass you.

It would be interesting to hear from both property and civil rights attorneys on this . Whatever the law ultimately says, I'm guessing that even more than most police depts., the Carrboro police would be reluctant to start trespassing people willy-nilly in an otherwise peaceful situation with no impending serious crisis or threat, and would encourage an alternative resolution first. They certainly won't be looking to unnecessarily involve themselves in a politically unsettled situation... at least one would hope.


I had an attorney recently explain what trespassing is. (This may be wrong; I'm not an attorney.) The way I understand it, you are trespassing only if you've been asked to leave, and then you don't leave, or you come back. Also, if there is a "No Trespassing" sign, then ignoring that sign is also trespassing. So, according to this, going onto the lawn is not trespassing. If one is asked to
leave and you don't, then that is trespassing.

I'm sitting here at Weaver Market engaging in expressive activity -- writing a comment on OP -- and the thought occurs to me: does Weaver Market (or Carr Mill Mall) pay Carrboro for the wireless service that is available to visitors to this property like me? For the bandwidth share that their guests consume?

Perhaps the answer is "yes," in which case the observation I'm about to make is not valid.

But if the answer is "no," then it seems to me that if Carr Mill Mall is going to benefit from (stated more cynically, "freeride on") a support for expressive activity that spreads over Carr Mill Mall's property, it would not be unreasonable for Carrboro to request, in return, that Carr Mill Mall support certain expressive activities on its property that benefit Carrboro. Like well-behaved dancing and guitar-strumming, for example. Sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander, and all that.

And make no mistake about the financial benefit that wireless confers on Carr Mill Mall generally and Weaver Market specifically: I am here right now (and buying breakfast and coffee), rather than in my office, because of the wireless. And before I leave, I'm going to pick up the salmon and macademia nuts and cilantro and watercress that I need for my dinner recipe tonight.

Eric, as Mr. Wifi, I've had several folks suggest to me we should threaten a cut off Carr Mill's free web-access in retaliation, so to speak, for their poor policy.

No way, I say. It's antithetical to the reason local connectivity advocates - Brian R., myself, etc. - want Wifi - to promote greater discourse on the new Town Commons - to make access ubiquitous - and dependable.

For instance, if things turn sour, citizen journalists (like yourself - quietly sipping your brew) will be able to report in near realtime of CMM abuses.

Look, you're expressing dissent from within the castle keep. How great is that?

No, you misunderstood me, Will. I am not suggesting a cut-off of Wifi to Carr Mill Mall, and there's no reason to jump to that sort of negative approach. What I'm thinking of is just the opposite: an *appeal* to Carr Mill Mall to reciprocate for the benefit that free Wifi confers on them. A little quid for the quo of the town's facilitating expressive activity on their property. It would be a shame if the relationship between Carr Mill Mall and the town were so poor that the only way the issue could be raised were in the context of a threat to cut off service.

Last time I investigated this, WSM paid for the wifi access for the mall and the local area. The town contributes by providing the antennas and technical support. In other words, it's a jointly offered service (private-public partnership) between the town and WSM. I don't believe the other businesses in the mall are able to access the service due to placement of the antennas. But....I haven't followed this for the past year so it could have changed.

Just wanted to encourage/ask for feedback on the statement that has been circulated as a response to Ruffin Slater's letter-- it was a first "go" at articulating a response to the situation, and trying ot publicly explain why this is SUCH A BIG DEAL but it would be great if it could be seen as in process and evolve to address the criticsms and concerns people raise in regard to it.Or if we could at least have discussions that address those concerns.

At the silent dance-in last nite and in a few conversatins with people who had a look at it there were a couple of recurring concerns

1) Too focused on race/racism

2) Not enough on the larger problem of public space, or the idea of the commons-- the fact that banning individuals and banning dancing was one in a long list of activities the mall has banned over the years, including voter registration, flyering, and public discussion events. (To my knowledge all of these have been banned since Sept 11, though I am not positive about this.)* I agree that this needs to be more central to the document

3) Doesn't give the mall an out or a way to save face....and is generally too adversarial

...what do folks think???

Back to the one year ban... Ok so they restrict me from setting foot on the premises: so how are they going to enforce that? It's impossible. Are cashiers going to narc on me everytime they spot me (are they going to notice?).

I say dance and let them try to enforce the consequence.

john a--

Usually the people who are "trespassed" are folks who have been caught shoplifting, or are injurious to business. (Aggressive panhandlers, for instance.) And yes, cashiers in mall businesses WILL "narc out" trespassed people. As will mall security. I believe if you violate said order, you can recive jail time--though said jail time is frequently suspended (providing you don't violate the trespass ban again.) Think of it as a restraining order--that's what it is, in effect.

Bruce is leery of taking the chance because he's on parole for serious crimes and if he is convicted of trespass he would be in violation of his parole. (Not my interpretation--I got that from a news article when this all started.)

john a, they'll call the police (conveniently located across the street). I've seen one instance of a re-trespass in the last 18 months. It was handled without an arrest. In this case, it was a WSM employee initiating but I imagine CMM would have to manage the new draconian regs.

Following up on Michal's comment of "generally too adversarial" and your call to "dance and let them try to enforce the consequence", I would hope the community can work the problem without exacerbating it. No, I'm not suggesting appeasement but right now CMM seems fairly reactionary. Do we want a long list of specific prohibitions? Do we want armed guards, after hours curfews, fences or other punitary measures?

I'm interested in the next steps and welcome a wider discussion (which I hope spills over to Chapel Hill) on conserving public access.

I understand the desire to reason with the landlords, but having read the press release and the Weaver Street e-mail, my thought is that the owners of CMM don't care what members of the community think. As owners of private property they can ask anyone to leave anytime they want for any reason (as long as its not discriminatory). While I don't agree with this, it has been held up by the courts. Its the same as Crabtree Valley Mall, which can kick anyone out they want.

That being said dancing protests likely won't do much beyond make them dig in their heels. I don't believe that the Carrboro police would enforce anything, but the mall is going to keep asking people to leave and eventually the police will have to do their jobs or the mall will just call in State Troopers.

The answer is to hit their pocketbook. This can be done on a number of different levels -

1) boycott businesses in the mall and tell them why. if they cry out to the landlord that they may not be able to pay the rent, CMM will listen. Vacancy rates in a building as heavily taxed as that one are not a good thing.

2) Appeal to the town/county government. Doesn't the CMM have an occupancy permit that allows it to run its businesses? Well, maybe its possible to have that reviewed, threatened to be revoked, etc.

3) Tear up Weaver Street. Carrboro just spent a lot of money putting in redundant sidewalks, maybe that money should have been used to close off the stretch of weaver street and make it into a truly public space. Screw their lawn, maybe the town should create one of its own right in front of the store.

At the end of the day, dancing and reason might make people feel good but to accomplish something takes a little conflict. I think this is less about racism and more about free expression. Who was Bruce hurting? No one really...

I still think my uncommented upon idea to form a Board of CMM tenants is a good idea. Get a member representing each tenant, discuss the issues, and get businesses participating and on the record. The basic idea is that Nathan's directive is ostensibly on behalf of the tenants. What if none (or just one) of the tenants actually favors the directive?

I still want Carrboro to invite the mall ownership to a relaxed lunch/afternoon, in which they would get to know the community in which their property functions. It would be important for them to not get gangpiled, but just be available to hear people describe the context of this space and how people interact with it and each other.

In terms of planning the most effective strategies for communicating with those in control of the situatrion, I think it's really, REALLY important to keep in mind that they do not directly profit from our dollars spent--they profit from the rent they charge their business tenants.

As philosophically, academically, and ethically fascinating as all the dialogue is that's spinning out of this, I keep thinking "Crap, crap, CRAP--I just want a simple solution here!" The Live on the Lawn satire on CarrboroNews absolutely nailed what this has come to. I don't care who's involved, I can only guess at what Ruffin *isn't* saying about previous negotiations, etc.--it just seems like it ought to be so much simpler, for pete's sake.

The little kids' facial expressions in one of the newsphotos of thrsday nigh just sums it all up: "What's wrong? why isn't Bruce dancing with us like he used to?"

And for the love of all things, PLEASE let's stop talking about Eminent Domain. Number one, no one really believes this leads to good legal precedents. Number two, we need the libertarians (and everyone) to participate in this dialogue as well, and they're just not going to see this as an individual rights issue from the dancer's perspective as long as that property-ownership-rights button gets pushed that hard. I'm not talking appeasement here, but inlcusion: ultimately, an effective dialogue must put on the table the rights and preferences of all involved, AND be kept as concise as possible.

A couple of people are preparing to do a survey of the CMM tenants to try to clarify this a bit. They will be presenting their survey approach on Sunday at the public meeting

Mark, I've asked a number of tenants if they've ever had a mall-wide tenant meeting on any subject - they've consistently said no.

I heard some where that the Town of Carrboro is working to contact the owners of Carr Mill Mall. I think this will help allot. Ultimately it may be the final solution.

Its important to keep in mind that every person affected by this situation has different perspectives, strategies, and desired outcomes. All of them are valid.

Yes, even eminent domain observations are valid. I didn't mean to come off as silencing, just tired of hyperbole.

How will the survey be adminstered? I wouldn't assume that every employer/renter will automatically distribute it to each employee.

I work inside the old mill building. I can't speak for my employer nor do I want to. But as someone who works on the premises, I have specific opinions relative to the space as a workplace (in addition to my opinions relative to being an over-40 Carrboro resident, property owner, parent, Co-op owner & volunteer, driver, former student, etc.).

The group has to agree on the survey on Sunday.
So far the survey is focused on use of the lawn in general and not on Bruce specifically. The plan is to go door to door with the survey.

I highly recommend attending the Sunday community meeting on this. If for no other reason, the space is amazing and the idea of turning it into a public/community space - obviously different than Weaver Street lawn - is a great one.
And pretty much the "group" is who shows up.

Can someone repeat the where and when information as to Sunday's meeting? Sorry, too many comments and threads to look through.

I'm a CMM business owner (CHICLE) and more than happy to answer survey questions!

The meeting will take place this Sunday night--- 7 PM at 116 Old Pittsboro Road.

Notes from last Sunday's Walk-in Tributary Theatre (WITT) community meeting can be found at---


I want to second Maria's call for people to come to the meeting, as we still have a long way to go in even clarifying our own goals and strategies-- though we had a very good beginning as notes on the wiki show.

For example, something that has not been talked about very much (at least as far as I have seen) are the difficulties or problems we might face if the lawn or street in front of WSM was a public space, where public is definied by it being owned and managed by the town-- like the Town Commons or a Park. We shouldn't forget that there are a lot of rules and prohibitions that accompany such a space. I am not suggesting that therefore the only alternative is to cede to private property owned by Carr Mill and other malls , but rather to suggest that we need to be creative as we figure out what we want -- we need to find ways to pursue a model of the Commons that is non-bureacratic, accomodating to all sorts of people, safe, fun, and a place where people can learn, communicate, and discuss pressing issues-- I personally think this is one of the most important challenges we must face today ....

Also If people want more information on the 116 Old Pittsboro Rd site mentioned abouve, that folks are trying to turn into Carrboro Greenspace, you can go to: http://grassroots.wikia.com/wiki/Carrboro_Greenspace, there should also be a website up soon!

Okay, I have some Bruce information here. This is an article that appeared in the Chapel Hill News on June 8, 2005. It doesn't seem to be in their online archive anymore so I will type it up here. This is part of my BIG HUGE PROBLEM with anyone being mean to Bruce- he is very forthright and truly pure in my opinion, and as I said in my letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago, he is really one of our community's great living assets. Bear with me here, I think this is worth reading:

Man With a Mission Finds the 'Beauty in Everyone'
(Bruce Thomas found religion in prison. Now he's helping others) By Kathryn Earnhardt, Correspondent

CARRBORO- The lawn outside Weaver Street Market can draw hundreds of people on warm summer days.

Two years ago, Arthur and Mabel Trout of South Africa watched Bruce Thomas dance on the lawn and, after his performance, began talking to the tall, captivating man. They found a connection between Thomas' life and their life's work.

At the time, the Trouts were involved in a prison ministry in Cape Town, South Africa. With Thomas, they later made a documentary about how he had turned to yoga and religious study to find peace while serving time in a Florida prison.

"My friends and I robbed banks to support a racial gang we were members of," Thomas said in an interview. One by one, his fellow gang members were imprisoned until finally his turn came. His incarceration for bank robbery came with a 2069 parole date.

After 19 years of imprisonment, however, the change in Thomas' behavior was apparent to the state parole board, which granted him leave.

"I walked out of that prison a free man," he said. "I was also a changed man.

"I now realize there are good and bad people of all races...and there is beauty in everyone."

The Trouts' documentary about Thomas, who has never been to South Africa, has made him a celebrity among those Cape Town residents who find themselves in a situation similar to his.

Thomas also has had an influence locally, inspiring people and most recently organizing Human Rainbow Outreach, a fund-raiser for the Trouts' work in South Africa.

James Fraser, associate research professor in the UNC department of geography, knows Thomas as most people do - from Weaver Street Market.

"Bruce is someone who many people regard as a very positive spirit in the community," Fraser said. "This fundraiser is one of the many projects he is involved in aimed at helping others."

Human Rainbow Outreach included scarf dances, a demonstration by the award-winning Bouncing Bulldogs Rope Skipping Team and rock painting.

The event helped raise awareness of the Trouts' Mahanaim Biblical Counseling Center, which they founded in 2000 to aid small, struggling churches in South Africa by providing ongoing, academic education to the pastors of those churches. The center also tries to get South African youths not to use drugs and counsels those whose parents have died of AIDS.

Fund raising was not the Trouts' only reason for revisiting North Carolina. In an effort to promote cross-cultural exchange, the couple is trying to build connections between South African churches, youth groups, professionals and their counterparts in North Carolina.

"Our aim is to spur interaction between ethnicities, between cultures," Arthur Trout said. "In the long-term, we would like to identify leaders from our community who will work to decrease the lasting impact of apartheid on South African society."

During the recent fund-raiser, Trout announced that the Bouncing Bulldogs plan to visit Cape Town in December to perform and to help establish a South African rope skipping team.

"The atmosphere here today is really wonderful," said Theron McCollough, a regular Sunday visitor at Weaver Street who looked at the Trouts' photos of Cape Town and joined in a game of double dutch with the Bulldogs. "It's fun for a good cause."

Thomas also performed two creative dance sessions that day with a small, enthusiastic group of children.

"This place is heaven on earth to me," he said, smiling and motioning towards the cheerful crowd on the lawn.

"I want there to be a heaven on earth for the people in Cape Town as well."

For information about the Mahanaim Center, contact Arthur and Mabel Trout altrout@webmail.co.za.

If it's any consolation to Carrboro residents, it now appears that Chapel Hill has its own version of a corporate Scrooge, as reported in this morning's N&O.


"Manager fears for new hotel amid Festifall"
'We believe this to be a bad situation,' says boss of Chapel Hill's Franklin Hotel.

Mr. Donaldson has already asked the Town to move Festifall next year. I wonder how he feels about the proposed public space on West Franklin for the Lot 5 project. After all, you never know what kind of undesirable element that might bring. Perhaps he will ask the Town to move that project as well.

Between the CMM management and Mr. Donaldson we might have the beginnings for starting a new township, Cary II.


"We do have a $14 million building that does have lots of glass on the front of it," Donaldson said.

Guess Festifall's traditional rock hurl is off ;-) !

GeorgeC, I was just talking to someone about how pressure would increase to sanitize downtown ala Southpoint when Southpoint-type development/redevelopment funds start flowing.

Thanks for the heads up.

Has the Trout's documentary about Bruce ever been shown here in Carrboro? Even if it's already been screened, I think it needs to be shown again, now. Century Center? ArtsCenter?

New thread about "The Franklin" that hates Franklin coming soon... ;-)

Recieved in response to question in WSM suggestion box:

"Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback.

Because we received your comments before Ruffin's letter was published,
I've attached it to this email in case you haven't received a copy yet.

Weaver Street Market's actions so far are a first step in a long-term
process toward revolving this issue. We want to encourage community use
of the lawn while respecting the property owners' needs. These are not
mutually exclusive goals.

Weaver Street Market is planning to host a Community Forum to gather
feedback about use of the Carr Mill lawn. Please watch for an
announcement to be made as soon as we have a date and location. I hope
you will be able to participate as a representative of the diverse
perspectives on the issue."

I haven't seeen the Trout's documentary nor do I know how to get a copy, BUT I am sure we can have a showing of it at the WITT--the walk-in tributary theater where we showed Footloose last week! The theater is meant for just these sorts of events!

Yes, discussions are underway on a forum that would attempt to move things forward on this. Andy Sachs of the DIspute Settlement Center is helping to develop a contructive format and will be facilitating.

So far, discussions have involved Ruffin Slater, Nathan Milian, and myself. Andy will also be getting in touch with Michal Osterweil as a community member who has been very active on this issue (Michal helped organize and facilitated last Sunday's community meeting).

The possibility of a community forum provides some hope. Andy Sachs is an outstanding facilitator for difficult dialogue. I hope that Nathan Milian will fully participate. That seems critical to the success of the dialogue. But as Andy surely knows, the dialogue will go nowhere if it takes a turn towards attacking Nathan inidividually. I look forward to learning more.

There are more issues here than just one man's right to dance. Freedom of expression and civil rights; WSM's future viability and growth given its tumultuous relationship with CMM; and Carrboro's public space and economic well-being (and WSM's and CMM's role in that) are some of the major issues raised by the so-called “Dancing Ban”. It would be nice if there were an easy solution to all of this, and that simply reversing the ban on Bruce's dancing would put a rest to all of the questions raised by this issue. However, one has to question the likelihood of that occurring at this point.

It seems that asking others not to fully express themselves in a forum such as this on the matters of eminent domain and Nathan's history of intractableness and obstructionism—so that others won't be uncomfortable or upset—is really the same thing as asking Bruce not to express himself by dancing, so that others won't be uncomfortable or upset. It will be nice if inviting the CMM owners here and introducing them to the community will open their eyes, and they will suddenly embrace the greater Carrboro community and start working with WSM and Carrboro. However given Nathan's previous history of management and the owners support of it, one should be prepared for the possibility that not only may that not happen, but they may see the situation as even worse than they had thought, and become even more determined to get rid of the “freaks,” “hippies,” and “oddballs” running and dancing around on “their” lawn.

I do believe that keeping eminent domain on the table, so to speak, serves a purpose. I am not suggesting that it currently be included in any type of formal statements, nor as part of any formal negotiations, but that its possibilities are fully explored and that it remains a “rumble” in the background. Do I think that some version of eminent domain is necessarily a solution here? I don't know. Do I believe it can lead to good legal precedence? Yes, under certain conditions it can and it does. Do I think it's “hyperbole”? No. In a time when vandalism of a vivisection lab would be considered “terrorism” and the murder of doctors who perform abortions is merely considered an act of radical resistance, I think “hyperbole” is a bit strong for the subject of eminent domain. I certainly don't think the possibility of using eminent domain is any more absurd than the prospect that got us here in the first place (Dancing Ban)—an equal and opposite reaction to the original action, if you will. As far as concerns of Government interfering with the prerogatives of private business, smoking bans in restaurants and bars, as well a zoning ordinaces set a precident for this type government involvement for the common good.

There are several reasons I feel eminent domain should be continued as part of this discussion. One, I think people's understanding of its potential use has been limited. Eminent domain can and has been used for the greater public good and does not necessarily require a large financial output by the city; and depending on NC law, may not even necessarily require that the city take over the costs of maintaining the property, nor that CMM lose use of it for most practical perposes. Secondly, raising the prospect of eminent domain moves the center of the debate. Many people see the current protests as an over-reaction to the situation—eminent domain makes protesting and dialog seem far tamer by comparison. Next, keeping eminent domain in the discussion gives voice to some peoples' level of frustration, as well as providing a springboard to thinking out of the box and looking at other solutions. Another reason is that when compared to destroying WSM and/or downtown Carrboro by moving WSM out of CMM, some application of eminent domain could be the lesser of evils. Finally, I think it is more important to have more radical propositions to fall back on in the case that more congenial approaches do not work. After all, if certain colonists had not kept the idea of revolution going in the background during tensions with the British government, the more “rational” minded, like Ben Franklin, would not have had a viable position to fall back on when appeasement, persuasion, and negotiations failed.

Don't forget this evening's meeting 7pm at 116 Old Pittsoboro Rd so we can keep discussing these issues and strategies as a community!! (The meeting will be in the "Witt", on the site of Old Sparrow's pool, follow the path behind the bonfire pit.)

Also please excuse the stuff around, we are cleaning up from and preparing for another event!

PS we also have more Footloose Bruce shirts that will be available!


I personally think eminent domain is not a progressive policy response at all, and I would lose respect for the Carrboro BOA is they threatened CMM with it. In fact, I would love to see the BOA expressly state that they would not use eminent domain to attempt to condemn the WSM lawn.

Two other thoughts

1) Taking the Carr Mill lawn would be much more injurious to Carrboro's economic development strategy that the ban on Bruce's dancing.

2) I don't see how Carrboro could condemn the lawn without a significant expenditure of cash, in addition to the reduction in property tax from lowering the value of Carr Mill Mall.

We're still here.... and we still want to dance!

For more of that community magic and power....

Same time, same place, same dance… let Carr Mill know that we still care about this issue and we are not going to just get bored and go away. Lets make this one even bigger.

Bring your friends, musical instruments— and your dancing shoes!

WSM lawn, Wednesday, September 6, 5:30 PM, the Carrboro community dances back!

Please forward widely.

Today, Mark Chilton, Nathan Milian, Ruffin Slater, and I held a press conference to announce new policies for the Carr Mill lawn. These are in keeping with all of our shared desire, including the Mall owners, that Carr Mill continue to be a focal point for the Carrboro community.

Details have been posted on the WSM web site.

I want to particularly acknowledge Weaver Street Market's going the extra mile in agreeing to sponsor a monthly event for community groups and to sponsor voter registration events prior to the close of registration in any particular cycle.

p.s. in case it is not obvious from the policy statement, Bruce Thomas is now free to do his thing.


Thank you Dan and Mark for facilitating the negotiations! Thank you Weaver Street Market and Carr Mill Mall for working to preserve Weaver Street Lawn.

Has Carr Mill Mall apologized to Bruce and formally invited him to dance at Weaver Street Lawn? (I see Dan's p.s.)

From the Carr Mill Mall's Open Space Policy:

5. Unauthorized performances and unauthorized large or publicly advertised gatherings are prohibited. "Performance" means any activity intending to attract or having the effect of attracting a crowd of spectators, or that's volume disturbs others. Performances need to have the advance written permission of Carr Mill Mall.

What if SPONTANEOUS actions of individuals &/or groups attract people? Who will determine intention existed or not? How will we know who or what group had "the effect of attracting"?

I realize this may seem academic. Life on the lawn may just go back to normal. But what happens when we relax and someone decides they don't like how someone looks again? If we're nice and quite will everything be A OK again?

Fact is the community must continue to monitor the managers to make sure their broad interpretation doesn't get used in a way that is outside our shared community values.

In short love your neighbors. If someone discriminates against them SAY SOMETHING!

Don't forget that Bruce Thomas met last month with the mall owner and mall manager. Anything that needed to be communicated between them was done at that meeting. Please feel free to ask Bruce if he is satisfied in that regard.

You're right that the performance definition requires the exercise of discrimination on the part of mall management, as do some of the other provisions. Perhaps there will be a problem again in the future because of that but, at this juncture, I would like to be optimistic. I know Nathan is committed to making these policies a win-win situation and avoiding problems like last summer's. In any case, we will be reviewing the policies in the spring.

It occurred to me this morning that there is one person who's contribution to this resolution went unacknowledged yesterday. Bruce Thomas played a passive role so his contribution is easy to overlook. However, had it not been for his consistent expressions of patience, warm-heartedness, and respect, this situation could have played out very differently.

I'll second Dan. Bruce has had a wonderful attitude about this whole debacle. He sets a great example for all people. Especially our community's children.



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.