We’ll Be Fighting In The Streets . . .


Okay, so it wasn’t The March on Washington, but today, my friends and neighbors stood together to try and stop the Biggest Retailer On The Earth from shoving a 24/7, 227,000 square-foot monstrosity down the throat of our neighborhoods.

We showed up and made a circle a mile long around the location where Wal-Mart wants to install its “super center.” (A fabulously oxymoronic designation if there ever was one.) More than 2,500 people showed up on this cold, grey morning. There were old people, middle-aged farts like us, children, dogs (though I’m pretty sure the dogs were in it solely for the butt sniffing), and the assorted Austin-weird.

It was a thing of beauty.

Yes, I know this isn’t the same as protesting the war, or a civil rights march, or any other kind of demonstration having to do with the larger things in life. However, after hearing so many people tell us we couldn’t fight Wal-Mart because, well, they’re Wal-Mart, it was a very satisfying, “Screw you.”

Sven, Krista, Bob, Maureen, Bud, Barb, and Brad came with me and The Dude to the protest. I really appreciated this as they don’t have a dog in this fight. None of them live near us, so this development won’t affect them directly. But in true Breakfast Bunch style, they showed up. Maybe it was for the kolaches. (Bribery is a potent weapon in rabble rousing.) Maybe it was for the idea. Whichever, I am deeply grateful they came along.

Last time I wrote about this for EatOurBrains, I talked about the size of the project, the noise it would generate, and the pollution it would cause. But that’s not the only reason this project is such a dreadful idea. It’s also a bad choice for the redevelopment of this property because Wal-Mart isn’t invested in the community.

Wal-Mart’s M.O. is to come in, build a super-center, and keep it active for about 10-15 years. At which time, they abandon the property and build a new Wal-Mart close to the old location. There are dead Wal-Marts littering the American landscape. The only difference between a “dead” mall and a “dead” Wal-Mart is that someone might still be using the mall. (Northcross, our “dead” mall, still has a nifty skating rink that I’ve used on occasion, a Guitar Center, and other shops. It’s just not operating at capacity and has lost its anchor stores.)

The neighborhoods don’t object to re-development of the property. Obviously, it’s being underutilized. But what was once an area without much development around it, is now surrounded by residential neighborhoods. (Though Allandale, where I live, was completed thirteen years before the mall was built.)

Responsible Growth 4 Northcross has an ambitious plan for a mixed-use mall. I doubt that this ambitious plan will get any serious consideration. The current property owners, Lincoln Properties, have shown no interest in meeting with the neighborhoods and working on a better resolution. It takes a lot of money to develop mixed use with commercial, residential, and retail together. Though the first malls were all developed around this combination. Everything old is new again.

So, we’re fighting. Fighting for our neighborhood. And that’s a remarkably powerful thing. We’re not a gaggle of consumers to be fed into the corporate maw. We’re neighbors and friends. That’s something worth fighting for. It’s something that isn’t part of the corporate mentality. This isn’t about profits, it’s about our lives. It may very well be that the next big fight isn’t going to be with guns, it’ll be with people standing up and saying “No” to giant multi-national corporations shoving their solely-profit-driven-agendas down our throats. (You know, like they’ve been doing for the last 60 years.)

And if there’s anything that can bring down a giant, it’s a bunch of Davids. (And Svens, and Kristas, and Buds, and Maureens . . . )

18 thoughts on “We’ll Be Fighting In The Streets . . .

  1. I kept saying, ‘Look at all the people! I thought there would be, like, 12 people, but when the counting guy came past, I was number 639 and we couldn’t see the end from where we stood.

    I was glad to do it, not being a Walmart fan. And the kolaches were to die for, as was the breakfast that Caroline cooked for us all afterwards. I will never forgive the Dude for getting me hooked on Ninja Warrior on G4TV. If you don’t know what Ninja Warrior is, well, I didn’t before this morning.

  2. Go, Assembled Masses! Where I rather like Costco and some of the other Big Box stores, I stand foursquare against WalMart.

    What on earth can be the business model that permits them to trash a perfectly reasonable store and rebuild nearby? I mean, the price of construction would argue against it. Weird.

  3. We made the front page of the Metro State section of Sunday’s paper.

    Unfortunately, the reporter chose to interview a 19 year-old instead of anyone from RG4N. So now we’re all a bunch of Wal-Mart haters instead of neighbors who are trying to protect their neighborhoods from inappropriate development. Sigh.

  4. Disemvowelled

    y gys r typcl mtv lbs. wlmrt rwks nd ds mr fr pr ppl thn wlfr. nw g drnk ltt, lstn t npr nd smk pl

  5. Well, if you weren’t in the NSA’s database of potential terrorists before, you are now.

    I hope Warren doesn’t need to fly anywhere on business for the next few years.

    My post later today will have, tangentially, a para or two of relatively non-political thought on WalMart boxes. Short version: I hate the fucking things.

  6. It was an exhilarating morning, and breakfast was swell. Also, as Maureen says, the kolaches were to die for.

    The kolaches, in fact, prompt me to provide this link to a story of a similar-sized protest in the Czech Republic a week and a half ago. The problem in this case is a proposed U.S. radar base that’s a legacy of Reagan’s “Star Wars” program. (Thought that was dead long ago, didn’t you?)

    Seems that since the Czechs already host NATO radar facilities, they aren’t crazy about an individual foreign power setting up its own (redundant) military shop on their soil — especially seeing as how they went through that not long ago with the old Soviet Union.

  7. If you are going to disemvowel me, you must cite the source of my statement. This is a test for you fiction types. No googling.

  8. Oddly enough. No, I don’t have to cite anything.

    I will say this once, TCO. I won’t disemvowel differing views reasonably expressed. I will disemvowel insults and personal attacks.

    Continued trollishness will call out stronger measures. Your behavior has been witnessed elsewhere.

  9. You know…I’m going to keep thinking you were not the one to disemvowel me, Steve. Stop. Don’t say anything. Need to keep assuming it was someone else here. See…you’re my hero. I mean, my fricking hero. You and Canadian Wilson are the only people in the world still writing fun/original SF. So…let me keep thinking it was one of the libs here who cracked down on me.

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