Over the years (eighteen), Jungle Vibes took on way more personality and meaning than any store I’ve ever been connected to. It officially closes TOMORROW, Sunday, Feb. 5th. Come in and say goodbye. There may be one last gift for a child or adult (or YOU) that is now very affordable! And lots and lots of shelving, glass, fixtures.
We ran a dunk tank and had Victor Piatt Juggler Extraordiaire at the corner of Kentucky and East Washington, fire dance parties along the River on Water Street, wonderful house concerts at the first JV location when the store had moved to Petaluma Blvd. So much…
At one early point, I got excited about the idea of designing a store window. Was going to fill a tree with stuffed birds, put a cut out birder near it with binoculars and a word balloon saying “The Spring is Sprung, the Grass is Riz, I wonder where the birdies is?” which I’ve been saying, probably from my Mom, since little! Wayne morphed the window into a life-sized cut out PHOTO of him dressed in safari clothing – and he became for me and others The Jungle Guy.
Wayne also became Emmett Kelly the clown interviewed – he just squeezed a horn like Harpo Marx – by Channel 50’s Curtis Kim, boosting Children’s Village in Santa Rosa. We created a small circus for the afternoon in Helen Putnam Plaza across the street. Wish I had video now of Wayne as an elegant, weird tall and awkward bird with huge feathers who comforted a sad girl (Lili Miesner, his first employee). Unlike any other bit of schtick you’ll ever see – sweeter! Another time he had a costume made and became George Bush on stilts, dripping money from a suitcase. Wayne walked from Walnut Park to Luchessi park as part of an anti-Iraq War march that day. And he became Uncle Sam on stilts handing out American flags to amazed children all around the Fairgrounds as part of the SesquiFest 4th of July celebrations during our really great SesquiCentennial.
I got to write a chapter on the future of Petaluma for the Celebrating Petaluma coffee table book for the Sesquicentenial. Also wrote 7 articles for a downtown business insert in the SF Chronicle, which we called Day Tripping in Petaluma and more for a silly Onion-style newsletter where I wrote as a penguin. Very silly; very fun!
A serious effort we made was with American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) as we created Petaluma Independent Business Alliance (PIBA) and ran with that as long as it seemed to make sense (two years of Shop’n Crawl at Christmas brought more sales to many stores and customer loyalty).
Many sad feelings as we leave. So many children come in, hangdog, and ask if we could somehow stay open. Some write letters and handmade cards to express their feelings.
Sorry, everybody, we have to close. We’ll go back to our (fairly new to us) Oasis Community Farm and make it what it will be in future – a place to visit, probably a membership farm, where you can buy great veggies, eggs, fruits, nuts, cheese, who knows whatall! Bet I’ll learn to make fancy jams!
And if all goes at all well, we’ll be a place to gather for music, drama, humor, whatever we need to gather for…Kids of all ages welcome always!
What is sad is not just the kids and their parents who we will miss (and hopefully keep in touch with many who want to), but the whole shift of the global economy! It’s not just in Jungle Vibes and Starstruck and Heebe Jeebe and Crackerjacks that the pinch is felt – its every small town, every country. We’re very lucky – we have local food, a very beautiful place to live, and each other. But we don’t have the money we had awhile ago. And it’s not coming back.
This isn’t our fault – and I can’t just say its Wall Street. It’s also Amazon, it’s also automation, it’s also globalization. One thing for sure: we have just this one planet and haven’t yet learned the stuff on it is for REUSE and RECYCLING, not neverending growth. That can’t work; never really did, though we humans made a valiant effort to keep making money by exploiting whatever can be exploited.
The earth is complaining quite shrilly at this point. More than HALF the population of our world will be without clean drinking water within ten years if we don’t change our ways.
Want that to be YOU? Oh, it’s OK if it’s just THEM? No.
It isn’t OK to let others suffer. I most identified with Satyagraha in my 20’s and guess I still do. That’s the principle held by Gandhi, the principle of the Bodhisatva, “I shall not be free until every blade of grass is free.” That principle is something we love and want to move closer to. Learn more ways to be kind. “What would Gandhi do?” became my placard for demonstrations. My idea, Gandhi’s presence still felt from reading him in my 20’s.
Meanwhile, back on Oasis Community Farm, 27 laying hens, a great crop of tomatoes, squash, lettuces, swiss card first year and the fruit and nut trees starting to bear this spring! Lots of excitement around that as well as completing the amazing house Wayne designed and built to the roof.
And Jungle Vibes? Was it ever a theme park as Wayne envisioned? That he grew up 7 miles from Disneyland explains a lot! It was endlessly entertaining and seemed it go on forever; Wayne felt he would have happily stayed into his 80’s in a better-healed economy.
From the Rainforest Tea Party featuring belly dance and nutritional supplements (I wasn’t here yet), to many Family Fun Days with petting zoo and crafts, Kids Open Mic (thanks, Barbara Arhon!), Exploratorium science days (used info from their site to build wonderful toys and teach about fire, magnets, balance – so sweet!) Well, I can’t even list all the events we ran. Usually several planned ahead of whatever date it was.
We will never forget – how could we? Talk with a couple hundred neighbors in a day, watch the kids get excited by science, sweet little girl toys, the Topsy Turvey Gumball machine with an elephant sound (our Elephant in the Living Room). I’ll do a Snapfish photo book for a small memento.
Guess I wanted an Everything Store when I was little; got to share one as an adult. Now is is going, going, gone! Stop by and say hello Sat. or Sun. By Monday, we’re doing donations for non-profits. Sigh. And goodbye.