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cloudship

Pizza, the arts community, and what it means to be a city

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In this past week's Worcester Magazine, there is an article about a street vendor in Canal District, who is unable to sell anything because a neighboring shop refuses to sign off on a require permit allowing him to operate. The city requires street vendors to get permission from every brick and mortar business in the area before they can operate. Obviously, even one business which is looking for an easy way to keep competition out can prevent him from selling.

The main story of this issue is the arts community in Worcester, or in particular, the lack of a cohesive arts community. Worcester artists tend to operate in isolation - there is no strong cohesion, no concerted effort to drive the arts in the city. While there are some very talented artists in the city, and some very successful ones, the arts tend to operate in the shadows.

These two separate stories are indicators of a deeper common issue, namely that the City of Worcester quite frankly, doesn't want to be successful. Many cities across the country struggle to promote themselves. Worcester, on the other hand, actively tries to curtail it's growth. In the Shrewsbury Street area, and area which despite attempts to control development has become something of a restaurant scene, we still have neighbors trying to curtail the nightlife and return the area to a functional but utilitarian neighborhood.

Worcester is a collection of small mill towns, which together have joined in name as a city but still identify themselves as small individual neighborhoods. It is still chasing an early 20th century ideal of the working city in a time when that no longer exists in the world, and arguably never really existed except as rose colored nostalgia. The, the city still tries to fight the street scene, instead focusing on small service businesses and the 9-5 work day. Creativity and design are seen as lesser values than labor driven industry.

Worcester has a lot of potential. There are great neighborhoods, there are great spaces, there are great buildings waiting to be revived. But the city, and by the city I mean not just the leaders but the people themselves, need to stop chasing the factory life. It is unsustainable, and is leading to the struggles the city faces economically and fiscally. For it's own sake, the city needs to come to terms with todays world and start seeing itself as a city and not a town.

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There's not too much I can say on the arts issue, since I have not yet read this weeks WoMag. Nor am I hugely interested in the arts.

However the street vendor thing is a bunch of bull. I don't see why the city would hurt potential business like this, and there is a market. How many spots will be available for vendors if people nearby say no? I could see this making sense on Shrewsbury St. or other areas with a lot of brick and mortar restaurants, but not the entire city.

All I know is, at least I'm grateful for the hot dog guy outside the Dive Bar. Several times it's been nice to have there.

Worcester is a strange, disconnected, and under-potential city indeed

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haha thanks man....thats me outside The Dive! Even in that location I still had to get 2 restaurants to sign off. Im glad they did but if one had said no...even if they dont hold the same hours as me...i wouldve been forced to move! We are still working on trying to get the vendor law repealed or at least changed to something a bit more reasonable. Right now its a 250 foot buffer. Any place that serves food within that zone has to sign off for the vendor to operate. Its bullcrap...but its also a trend around the country. I too am a small business and they need to realize that.

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