Art smart

Chico is so excited at having been designated one of The 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America, according to a new book by John Villani, that the City Council has agreed to put $158,989 toward promoting the distinction.

The Chico Chamber of Commerce is in charge of getting the word out, and Communications and Marketing Manager Alice Patterson said they’re excited for the campaign’s kickoff in March 2003.

The target market, she said, is “a cultural tourist"—someone who enjoys historic sites, art galleries and the like. He or she is well-educated, of baby boomer age or older and lives within a four-hour radius of Chico.

The hope is that people will come to town, enjoy the arts scene, spend money on lodging, dining and shopping, and then take off, leaving their money to do that multiplier-effect thing, turning over in the economy.

The first venues for print advertising, Patterson said, are SkyWest’s in-flight magazine and the Ashland, Ore., visitors’ guide. There will be some radio ads in the Sacramento market and also billboards. There will be a dedicated Web site about Chico’s art scene, but it’s not up yet, so I’m not going to tell you it. OK, it’s

Big store gets bigger

Wal-Mart got approval Nov. 20 from the city’s Architectural Review Board to go ahead with its plan to expand 97,675 square feet and remodel the façade of its Forest Avenue superstore. The corporation, as city Associate Planner Jay Hanson put it, “didn’t come right out and say it,” but the rumor is that the new place will be one of those grocery store scenarios.

The new part will extend south (that’s to the left of the store for those of us who are directionally challenged) into an adjacent piece of property, nearly doubling the size of the store. The remodeled building front will have a “tiered parapet wall” and trellis structures covering the entry walkways. The lovely color scheme will include Minaret Melon, Deep Lake and Sweet Apricot.

But can I just charge it?

I might be up for this challenge were I not spending the day after Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. Nov. 19 is Buy Nothing Day, an event promoted by those who fear that rampant consumerism has bred a society of materialist beings whose pleasure comes at the expense of the global community.

I like stuff, but I’d rather not buy things made by little children or at the expense of the environment. Easier said than done. One thing I’d like to point out is that, if you buy something that says “Made in the USA,” it could actually have been made in Saipan, a U.S. trust territory in the South Pacific, where minimum wage and other labor laws don’t have to be followed and Chinese workers get an average of $3 an hour. The aforementioned Wal-Mart, with its American flag décor and down-home advertising approach, is one of its biggest importers.

The Earth Peace Project of Butte-Glenn Community College is urging shoppers to hold off, if only for that day. "Save your money; don’t go into debt; reduce stress; avoid buyer’s remorse; regain self-control," they say, suggesting instead some quality family time.