I have been busking in Sonoma County, from Healdsburg to Petaluma, for more than 10 years. Buskers usually play music with a case open or something else for tips. Buskers do not panhandle by asking for money and have a little more entertainment value than a panhandler.
The recent acquisition of Safeway by Albertsons has increased corporate anti-panhandling and loitering rules as evidenced by new signs. I have talked to the manager at Safeway in Sebastopol, and he understands the difference between buskers and panhandlers, and has allowed buskers with some restrictions. I have thanked him for his support and appreciation of Sonoma County's rich music culture.
But recently there have been complaints about buskers. I do not understand how during the one-minute walk from the car to the store some music could be a problem. But the manager is getting complaints. He is reconsidering his stance about buskers and the corporate rules. Since I get many compliments, I have the feeling the manager is hearing only complaints.
If you enjoy the culture brought to you by buskers, please fill out a customer comment card so the manager can have a more balanced understanding of how the customers feel.
Andy's Market, Fiesta Market and Oliver's Market are all busker-friendly, and some have a sign-up process for musicians and nonprofits, which shows their appreciation of buskers as part of the community.
I was born and raised in Santa Rosa and have recently returned to my hometown after a 30-year hiatus. I adore the trees and how much they add to the local flavor. I must strongly urge the city not to cut down the trees in Courthouse Square. There is plenty of parking (covered no less) at the mall, and walking a few blocks seems a small price to pay for having the majesty of the redwoods grace our downtown.
I was disappointed by Jonah Raskin's Open Mic (Nov. 25), because he does not take the opportunity to discuss the larger context of war and violence around the world. Instead, he focuses on the recent violence in Paris as if that is all the suffering there is, just as the Western media does. I fear this exclusion continues to feed first world insularism (as 9-11 did). I can appreciate Mr. Raskin's love of France, his friends, the culture, but when he ignores the larger context of violence and suffering around the world, there is a huge cost.
Why do we wait until Paris to express our grief and sadness when Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa all suffer? Let's talk about the ancient cultures being lost in those countries. And now France joins the United States, Great Britain and Germany in bombing these countries and adding to the suffering. We must find other tools besides bombs and guns to stop violence and suffering. I hope Mr. Raskin will raise his voice to all of that.
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