Save Vermont! -- State Declared "Endangered" by Wal-Mart Expansion
Following upon several successful instances of resistance
to the Wal-Martization of America, including the successful
"no" vote on the company's plans in Inglewood, CA, the National
Trust for Historic Preservation has placed the whole state of
Vermont on its list of "most endangered historic places." I
consider this an important turn of events, one that will help
people striving to save this wonderful piece of New England from
the sprawl of big box shopping malls and auto-centered development
that has made a chaotic hash of the American landscape.
Watch for Falling Prices!
Watch for Falling Wages!
Watch for Falling Environmental Standards!
Watch for Plywood Boarded-up Shops Downtown!
Watch for the Collapse of Communities Near You!
According to one news report:
"Officials for the Trust, a nationally recognized group that
helps save historic sites, said they put Vermont on the list
because the planned opening of so many Wal-Mart stores there
in the next few years threatens the state's small-town quaintness.
The state has four Wal-Mart Stores now, and seven more are
planned, company officials said, with about 1.3 million square
feet of total space. Trust officials blame the gigantic retailer,
with its vast boxy stores , for squeezing out mom-and-pop
operations and changing the character of Vermont.
'That will have a very large consequence, not just for the
communities where the Wal-Marts will be located, but for
the entire state,' said Richard Moe, president of the Trust,
a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C. 'The unique small-town
character of the state and the fragile countryside will be
overwhelmed by their size.'"
* * * * *
[Of course the Wal-Mart flack, Mia Masten had a ready response
(I wonder how much they had to pay Mia to say this stuff)]:
"'Blaming Wal-Mart is a bit far-fetched,'" said Mia Masten,
Wal-Mart's community affairs manager for the Eastern region.
She said that the stores provide jobs and economic activity
in areas that need it.
"'It sounds as if we're trying to go and push our way in,'"
Masten said. "But we are asking for and getting local input.
We want a project that everyone likes at the end of the day.'"
* * * * * * * *
At a meeting in Albany recently I ran into a woman from a town
in the Hudson Valley who talk enthusiastically about Wal-Mart
"community affairs." She exclaimed, "Even before the final plans
for the store were approved, Wal-Mart managers called a meeting with
a couple dozen community groups and gave them each a check for $1,000!"
This reminds me of the kind of penny ante bribery we've seen in
battles with St. Lawrence Cement in Columbia County, New York. While
permits are pending, the company has been lavish in its "gifts" to the
community. When my kids were in Little League several years ago
they would ask, "Why are all the other teams wearing uniforms from
St. Lawrence Cement?" Fortunately, we've had some success shining
a bright light on these phony acts of charity and the risible, glossy
advertising campaigns the company has launched.
Good luck, Vermont! Give 'em hell!