As a 12-year downtown small business owner, I am amazed at the lack of support given to me and my family after the tragic fire of a neighboring building which devastated my small downtown business. My building owner/lesser happens to be a past president and current member of the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, an organization I thought supported the efforts of small downtown businesses.
After the tragic fire, my lease was terminated and offered to a neighboring larger franchised business with several locations in the area. This forced me to relocate my stand-alone business that has provided our local community with a gathering place and offered a wonderful resource for the entire downtown community, not just the tourists. No consideration was given to the value of small businesses that generate 90% of their profits from local citizens.
I have watched the sprawl growth of our community and have seen the big box stores erode small business owners in the downtown area. How is the small business owner to survive if our downtown leaders and property owners don‘t support us, the little guys?
Please consider the future growth of downtown Traverse City and support for small businesses and not just the corporate franchised business, which seems to squeeze out the locals.
Danielle Freund Ray‘s Coffeehouse
Cannibis & votes
Re: Robert Downes‘ article “Marijuana and Free Speech“ in Random Thoughts. I may not always agree with him completely, but that is okay because at least he is talking about it.
Some of the things that I differ on are the following. The truth is that protest marches do get reporters flying down firepoles in hot pursuit if the marchers are being destructive, showing civil disobedience and getting arrested. The sad fact is that if the marchers are peaceful, that doesn‘t sell the public today as well as violence. When did this all change?
I am a soon-to-be 55-year-old baby boomer who obviously does care about the stuff today as do the majority of our members (Benzie County NORML and the statewide PRA pro-marijuana movement) who also happen to be over 50 years old. The oldest member of Benzie County NORML is 76 and the youngest 19. My wife and I raised six children of our own and over 30 foster children who are all pretty productive citizens today raising their own families. They all know how dad feels that I would rather see them use cannabis than alcohol or tobacco, but they each make their own decisions. Incidentally, I don‘t drink chardonnay or take Ibuprofen or any prescription drugs. I trust only cannabis and other natural herbs.
Voter registration -- all PRA petitioners kept cards with them and signed people up before they signed the petitions and mailed them in at their own expense. I personally mailed in over 100 voter registrations. Maybe when we do it again, we will strive for voter registration and have PRA petitions on the side.
A few weeks ago in Lansing we supporters of the PRA elected a seven-member steering committee with Greg Schmid (author of the PRA proposal) as our legal advisor. I was one of those elected and three of us men are over 50 years old. Our first order of business (to my liking) was to hire a legitimate poll done of Michigan voters to prove where we stand on the four parts of PRA, thus hoping to get recognition from the corporate-controlled news media and get some big money donors to pay volunteers for signatures.
The second thing that we decided was to lower the age on the personal use issue to 18 years old. We know that the signatures are out there, but we need more help from around the state to get the job done.
I personally feel that if you use cannabis then you need to quit hiding (hoping you won‘t get caught) and take a stand to help us get this on the ballot. I am getting sick of having police, doctors, lawyers, judges, etc. tell me that they can‘t make a public stand but they are behind what I am doing all the way and will vote for it in the privacy of the voting booth. I‘m obviously sticking my neck on the line because my generation should have gotten this done back in the 1970s when the Schaffer Commission recommended that cannabis should be decriminalized and I don‘t want to see my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren go through the same bullshit that we have gone through. I want to see victory for God before I die! Baby Boom generation and all the rest of you -- I hope Robert Downes pissed you off enough to take some action. You can start by contacting Michigan Marijuana Movement at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Wednesday, July 17, 7 p.m., Benzie County school‘s Central Business Office on Homestead Rd. Benzonia, Benzie County NORML will be showing to the public (that has the courage to come) two films, “Hemp for Victory“ and “Hemp, The Billion Dollar Crop.“
Rev. Steven B. Thompson
Director, Benzie County NORML
Removing the Rainbows
It‘s getting close to the time for the Rainbow Gathering. The vote last year elected one of the Lake states (Mich., Wisc., or Minn.). Soon a National Forest area will become a temporary home to the country‘s largest nonorganization.
The Gathering started in 1972 as a way to celebrate life and nature on public lands, and pray for healing and peace in a truly democratic society with no central power figure and no taint of money. Over the years, the number of attendees has grown, and last year, near Boise, Idaho, almost 20,000 people came, prayed and celebrated, cleaned up the area, and went home.
The U.S. Forest Service has created a National Incident Management Team just for the Rainbows, and does everything possible, including disinformation, to discourage members of the public from peaceful assembly on public lands. Last year, the U.S.F.S. warned that valuable chinook salmon spawning grounds would be destroyed by all the campsites. Rainbows made wooden bridges for the streams, along with stone walkways to prevent erosion. And every day, law enforcement officers rode their horses through the streams.
Here in Manistee, the local police were kind enough to distribute information sheets to local businesses. A few quotes, spelling errors included: “Efforts to stop the group have resulted in numerouse suits in court - free speech gathering... the largest subsitized ‘party‘ on U.S. Forest land in the United States... many of the participants are homeless, they will stay until they absolutely have to leave... parking is always a problem... if a vehicle breaks down, most are simply left as they are basically junk... remote areas are always used, therefore roads are not designed for this much traffic... social problems including nudity, confrontation with locals, shoplifting, gas theft, etc... basically drain every resource from the community (local banks, Salvation army, apply for food stamps).“ How do homeless people drain resources from banks?
From the July 2001 Idaho Observer, a totally different picture emerges. “There was no traffic congestion... parking proceeded in a peaceful and orderly fashion... over 90% of the vehicles were newer models... no litter, extremely clean... no people fights... officers tend to issue citations to people who are obviously poorer so that they can‘t pay the fine. This results in warrants and arrests later which serves the propaganda machine that Rainbows are irresponsible and poor... fewer than 10 among the 18,000+ got naked... only a handful of partied out people... periods of silence... respect, respect, respect.“ I called the Salvation Army in Boise, and the manager told me there hadn‘t been any problems that she was aware of.
Hmmm. I was taught to respect authority, but something seems kind of incongruent here. The police and the U.S. Forest Service want me to fear the Rainbows, but it appears to me that if ever this planet needed prayers for peace and healing, it is now.
Bob VanderLewn Manistee