$teven Ra$pa 
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Re: “"How Berkeley Can You Be?" Thwarted by Berkeley

The inclusive spirit with which John created and nurtured How Berkeley Can You Be! over the years is to be wholeheartedly applauded! It's exemplary on so many levels and has always made me think fondly of Berkeley and what it represents symbolically in the world. It's a true asset to the city.

I have had the pleasure of marching in the parade as a bunny to protest humanity as part of The Billion Bunny March; and I know many who have put tremendous effort into participating in this event to honor the unique spirit of Berkeley and bring joy to others--even as we laugh at ourselves and human nature in the process. The parade and celebration of community and imagination--in all its most playful forms--is an incredible asset to the entire Bay Area and a much-loved annual event. It brings people together in SUCH a positive, playful and tolerant manner with a full range of human expression, which makes it a cultural and spiritual asset. That for me is reason well enough for it to continue, but it also brings people from all over to frequent restaurants and local businesses, so it has a positive and very practical economic impact in the local business district it takes place in. It works on many levels and has never been out of control or posed a public danger. Surely sensible city officials and every person who has ever enjoyed this unique experience, have a vested interest in helping revive and sustain it as an attraction, cultural asset, and unique community-building tradition. I'd also like to note that if How Berkeley can't survive as a free event without needing to seek major commercial sponsorships as its savior, Berkley has lost it's own battle to do right by the people who live there. And we've all sold and lost something silly and precious in ourselves.

The good news is that it only takes one person like John to make the world more fun and to show how we can work and play nicely with one another, but it takes an entire community--including city officials, police, permit agencies, the fire department, Park & Rec, local business interest groups, and residents--to band together to keep a good thing going. Or are we going to charge street fairs and parades so much that the only ones that can afford to use public spaces anymore have major corporate logos or strong profit motives associated with them? Don't we have room for a nice neighborly "FREE LEMONADE!" stand anymore?

Sometimes it takes something going away to know just how much it is loved and losing something only makes it more appreciated when it is regained. May How Berkeley rise again in all its glory! May each of us do our part. And if and when it does return, may we also celebrate the return of community, art, play and inclusive values. That is when Berkeley will be alive and well again. Thank you, John, for creating a parade I was darned proud to march in and I hope to march in once again. My hat is off to you!

- $teven Ra$pa, Arts Advocate & Special Events Producer, Burning Man

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Steven Raspa on 07/31/2009 at 9:42 PM

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