Perhaps you too have been at least peripherily following the Miss Rockaway Armada. It’s a group of a couple of dozen or so artists floating on a raft (shown here under construction) from St. Paul to St. Louis. This morning I actually visited their website. I found it to be rather interesting.

I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that they have some philosophical underpinnings to their quixotic quest. I expected their expressed desire to interact with the communities along the river, sharing art and absorbing culture. What really caught my attention was their concept of Pirate Utopias or, more specifically, Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ).

Now, I don’t think my interest is due solely to the time I spent at the New Riverside Cafe. Strangely or logically, it reminded me of the discussion of the proposed outside dining ordinances at yesterday’s Block Head Gathering. There were concerns expressed that in trying to permit outside dining, we were placing new restrictions on book sellers. I imagined a temporary autonomous zone where folks were allowed to serve sandwiches at tables on the sidewalks for the few months of the year that such activity was possible in Minnesota.

Then I thought, why just temporarily autonomous? Perhaps if we established a Special Services District (or a Downtown Management District as it’s affectionately know at the NDDC’s E. R. Team ) where the downtown building and business owners had a little more leeway to shape their environment, physically and conceptually, we might have the freedom to pursue activities that might stimulate economic activity all year long. It would assume that the business owners would maintain pedestrian access on the sidewalks, as well as a few other standards of civilized society. Call me an anarchist, but I believe that this would be a safe assumption.

These zones of at least partial or temporary autonomy are certainly interesting to consider. By the way, back to the Miss Rockaway Armada, in addition to the coverage in the Star Tribune, there’s kind of a cool article in the Village Voice too.

I wonder when they’ll reach Winona?