As a business owner on Commercial Street, I want to say that the boardwalk is the best thing to happen to our street since the Cornish miners first conceived of it.
My staff of six has lunch on it everyday, and I spend as much time on it as I can. Kids I know hang out there waiting for their parents. That’s the one car-free place that they can do that in town, where they can grab a slice of pizza while they wait. Two grandmothers frequently have lunch there or meet a friend there and then mosey on about town. Today, like many Fridays, a bunch of teens meet there to knit with each other. The more one uses the boardwalk, the more one realizes that the 20-year-olds who hang out there are completely benign. At first blush, they apparently seem threatening to some when in fact they are completely harmless.
There’s a serious prejudice against them because of how they look. Unfortunately, Nevada City has a terrible track record of aggressively white-washing our town. First, we kicked out the natives, and then in 1880, overnight, we kicked out all of the Chinese. Few African Americans or Mexicans feel comfortable here, and now, the youthful, guitar-playing, dreadlocks-wearing, hippie-like people apparently make some feel like they need to cross the street.
Don’t worry, this is just a phase — relax. Err on the side of social justice, err on the side of inclusion, of tolerance and, dare I say, “love and appreciation.” The older we get, the more scared we get — relax. There is less crime there than within the walls of our institutions, financial and otherwise. Give these people a break, and we’ll be better people for it.