I want to first say that I hold the rangers of the Vancouver Parks Board in the highest regard. They have shown great wisdom and patience having been placed in the middle between the complainers and the community. They deserve our respect, praise and continued support as they try to balance that fine line between allowing our community to grow and prosper and being the force behind the voices of those who do not want the status quo changed. If you see a ranger in Stanley Park, please thank them on behalf of all of us.
Even though we are in our 4th year, it is our 1st full year at 3rd Beach. The request of the Parks Board to relocate Brahm’s Tams from 2nd Beach to 3rd Beach was appropriate and perfect. At 3rd Beach, we are not near any residential homes and there is no better location to drum the sun away. Every week we leave no carbon footprint, only the footprints of many, many people dancing in the sand. The children have always been my favourite part - the way their eyes light up when presented with a drum. Families and people from all walks of life join together under the common theme of;
For the Love of Rhythm
The difficulty right now is dealing with people’s expectations. There are people who do not yet know of our drum circle community and come to 3rd Beach on a Tuesday with expectations. I truly believe that we are growing in a positive and prosperous way and it is simply a matter of time before everyone who wants to partake in this wonderful community gathering will join us, and those who are not interested in it will go elsewhere. We are only talking about 4 hours during our workweek only in the late Spring/Summer/early Fall months. In the grand scope of our beautiful city and even in the grand scope of our beautiful Stanley Park, it is the smallest fraction of space and time that we take to bring together community and foster unity, all for the love of rhythm.
My meeting this past Thursday July 15, 2010 was difficult but somewhat productive. The head lifeguard claims that at our current location by the logs at 3rd Beach interferes with his sightlines to properly manage the beaches safety. Although I personally disagree as there are bigger beaches with more people than 3rd beach and lifeguards who can guard it all effectively, I respect the concept that safety comes first. Our compromise is that we move further north on the beach, past the second lifeguard chair. We will comply with this request to help foster our relationship with Stanley Park. They have also graciously offered to move some of the larger logs to allow spectators a place to sit as we should try to keep the seawall clear for the cyclists and public. A concern that I have is that the north end of 3rd Beach already has people drinking and doing other things. I hope that those individuals do not remove the safety we have created for Moms and children and I also hope that these individuals do not get lumped into our group, therefore giving the police an excuse to break up what we have created. We shall see.
The next compromise that was asked was that we begin no earlier than 6:30pm. The reason was vague but I was told it is to respect other users in Stanley Park. I truly believed we had complied with this request when we moved from 2nd Beach to 3rd Beach. I also believed we had complied with this request from the very first circle 4 years ago when we chose to gather on Tuesday evening instead of Sunday afternoon – when other drum circles in many other cities occur. I do not agree with a 6:30pm start time. In July, when the sun sets at 9:30pm, we are given a few hours of rhythm and joy, but in September the sun sets at 7:20pm. Should we only drum for 50 minutes?! In my opinion, that’s unreasonable and defeats the function of this gathering. I believe the circle should be more organic than a set time. We all work. We all finish work around 5pm. We all need to go home, change our clothes, grab our drum and make our way to 3rd Beach. Do we really need to set a time for that? We end up starting around 6pm anyway. If our tag was ‘after work until the sun sets’ it would welcome people to come when they please. In July and August we will have longer circles, just like in June and September, they will naturally be shorter.
I gave my word to Ranger Patrick that for the next 4 circles we would not start before 6:30pm. Even though we have called the start time of 5pm for the last 3.5 years, I believe this was a necessary compromise that Patrick needed for the people he answers to. Mid-August we will meet again to discuss a reasonable solution to the difference of opinion in the timeline. I ask you all, on behalf of us all, to respect Patrick’s request over these next 4 weeks and only start drumming at 6:30pm. I also believe that once the complainers realize that calling the police with fictitious stories of drinking, drugs and general mayhem in the park won’t shut down this beautiful and safe family event, they will stop complaining and move on the next thing to complain about. At that point, the Parks Board will not have to concern themselves with the triviality of trying to contain community spirit.
The last point that was brought up at the meeting was I was handed a form to get a permit. I understand that from a city worker’s perspective, paper work is a required reality in their day to day. I asked how much it would cost on a weekly basis over the next many years and received no answer. I asked who holds the permit of the drum circle at Spanish Banks that has been there for decades and received no answer. I asked who holds the permit of the Tam Tams in Montreal that has been there for decades and I received no answer. There are no tickets sold for this weekly gathering. In fact, the only tickets I have ever seen are all the parking stubs people pay the parks board so they can attend Brahm’s Tams. The only money I’ve seen spent is at the concession stand when people want a drink or an ice cream. In fact, the 12 drums I bring for all to play require maintenance (re-skinning a drum can cost up to $150 each) which I pay out of my own pocket for these past years. I may be one of the lead voices of this circle but I do not own it…and I do not want to own it. Without each of us, there is no circle and that is one of the key points to what makes us so great.
Well, that sums up the meeting and my perspective. I gave each person attending the meeting a package that contained 55 letters of support as well as the stats of Polldaddy.com from our website, which at that time had 297 votes to continue Brahm’s Tams as is. I hope they read each and every letter as I did. I hope they see that this is bigger than just me – this is our community, our park, our city and Vancouver deserves more positive pro-active people like us to step forward and be seen and heard. Please continue exactly what you have been doing. Don’t change your good vibration. Don’t stop spreading the love.
See you all next Tuesday at our home; 3rd Beach, Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia.
There’s no place I’d rather be.