It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about the vendors at the bridge. The events of last year were overwhelming, to say the least. Within a few days of the last post, the NMDOT barricaded the west side of the gorge bridge and the vendors moved to the rest area. That has not been without problems, there is a lot of uncertainty about our future, but the vendors are still there, just hidden in the back side of the rest area.
We had a small vendor meeting at the bridge today. It was called to talk about the future of the Vendors Association which has not been active the last four years. It wasn’t very well attended and nothing conclusive was decided. I brought up the two real possibilities that exist at present: We either get a majority of the vendors involved and revive the association as a democratic institution that truly represents the vending community at the bridge or we dissolve it. A couple of people who were involved in the association disagreed with me when I pointed out that the structure of the vendors association is a bottom up association that doesn’t give the board any real power. The board can pay bills, discuss what’s going on and make recommendations but anything that affects the whole community requires the whole community to vote and approve it. They now want to set up a new association that has a president and board with control of the vending. I don’t think that is what anybody other than themselves want. We’re vendors at the bridge, we don’t have or want any boss telling us what to do and how to do it. I put a lot of effort into setting up a structure that didn’t allow a small clique to decide for the majority. It is flawed in many ways but it is democratic in the extreme.
Since the vendors who are now trying to start a new association are already trying to sell what they’re doing with misinformation and paranoia, I’m going to put out the facts, such as they are. I did get enough support from the few vendors there in favor of reviving our original association that I’m going to see if I can get enough support and interest to actually do it. That consists of getting them to sign a paper saying they are willing to participate, as a first step, in a association that should be something like a trade union for the self employed, not a hierarchical governing body. That is what most of the world has to put up with. We’re free at that bridge, we have no master and that is the way it should be. Those that want to change that should remember the Joni Mitchell song: “You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
I’ll have more to say in the weeks and months to come. I put off posting anything until after this meeting. It wasn’t a bad meeting by far but it highlighted the problems the vendors association has had all along. We disagree extensively among ourselves and it’s hard to get participation, much less a consensus about what the vendors association should be about and doing. There was a lot of nasty politics in the vendors association when it was active which discouraged people from getting involved. The basic divide has always been between those who want it to be a market management entity that regulates and controls who sells at the bridge and those, like myself, who want it to be a representative association that defends our basic interest in the same way that a trade union defends employees in a factory. The greatest thing about vending at the bridge is the freedom and we tend to distrust those that want to change that, especially when they’re part of our own community.