Danya Solomon 
Member since Aug 2, 2009


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Re: “"How Berkeley Can You Be?" Thwarted by Berkeley

There might only be room for one under John's raincloud - but clearly our city of Berkeley and greater community is feeling its raindrops.

I was 15 when my dad began the 'How Berkeley' creation. I remember the many dinners we would have in our house, that inevitably would turn to brainstorming sessions . I sat there in a state of true inspiration and awe of both my father's vision and what I knew he was capable of. Watching "How Berkeley' grow from an idea to one of our most clever and unique parades around was invaluable.

It was most important to my father that this would be an event that the city of Berkeley would embrace and call it its own - not only the staff and organizers, but its citizens, subcultures, university, arts, commerce etc. In Dad's mind - this event was created for the people of Berkeley to come together.

The How Berkeley Can You Be?! Parade was a mirror that once a year served to reflect the artistically unique side of our city. I clearly remember the early days - The Meat Providers and Veget-Aryans, of the spellbinding Art Cars making their way to our event, the beautiful Tibetan contingents, SF Cheer, Bizaar of India floats, Pink Man, the mad max flame throwers, of course the naked people and so many more. Being a performer and self proclaimed theater nerd myself, the parade has always been even more fun then entering a candy store. The first year, my 16yr old friends and I covered our nearly naked bodies with what we thought was mud and ran around grunting and acting like apes. I suppose this was a nod to our primordial ancestors or something. It wasn't until 4 hours later as we were attempting to hose the mud off that we realized we used potter's clay rather then mud, thus turning ourselves into hardened pottery. The next year we dressed as CAL Biology Students from a fictionalized conservative think tank and handed out pills to ensure the heterosexuality of parade viewer's unborn children. We dressed as members of the "Orange County Country Club" and encouraged people to "Green" their lives by watering their lawns more and using more water to keep their gardens green. This was a parade that breathed its brilliant breath only because of the efforts of all involved parties - not because of advertising and sponsorship. It is the JLaw's and the Steven Raspa's that substantiated 'How Berkeley's' namesake.

However, I am no longer 16 and unfortunately can't seem to find my rose-colored glasses. Last year when I took over producing the parade, I viscerally understood our parade's recent challenges: Sure there is the massive black hole of funds and the city's ludicrous and suppressive parade guidelines. However, in the recent years an equal challenge became rallying Berkeley-ites to participate and take their time to create parade contingents. Our conversations around the dinner table turned from creative brainstorming to figuring out why it has become so difficult to enlist parade contingents. Is it because of the city's restrictive mandates or are we as people moving away from such past-times?

Without the interest and action of participants, the parade is lost. I would like to see 'How Berkeley' rise once again, but we can't do it without the people of Berkeley. I am hopeful that we can bring back this event and I challenge us all to remind ourselves of the importance in community street celebration. Whether the city of Berkeley has morphed into a repressive entity or not - we as its citizens have it in our power to take matters into our own hands and stick up for what we deem important. I would like to see 'How Berkeley Can You Be?! Parade and festival come back with the true participation of its namesake - it would be unstoppable. Now that would be Berkeley.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Danya Solomon on 08/02/2009 at 3:22 PM

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