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More on Beaverton Anti-Walmart meeting

Here's a note from one of the leaders, Steven Kaufman
From:
Steve Kaufman < s2k@easystreet.com>

To:
Steve Kaufman < s2k@easystreet.com>

Subject:
Report - Wal-Mart Neighborhood Meeting

Date:
Mar 11, 2005 9:56 AM

Dear Save Cedar Mill Team:


I'm pleased to tell you that grass-roots political activism is alive and well!


Last night was Wal-Mart's neighborhood review meeting. It was held at the Kingstad Center, a small conference facilty in the Beaverton Creek office park. The meeting format used by Wal-Mart was, in fact, similar to what I'd indicated in my last email: stations descibing the various aspects of the project, with no formal presentation by Wal-Mart.


By 7:15 PM, hundreds of people had shown up. As required at neighborhood meetings like this one, attendees were required to sign in. However, there was only one sign-in station, causing a huge back-up of people who formed a line that snaked around the building. That line also included our state representatives, some of whom drove up from Salem to attend the meeting. As people went from station to station, there was a sense that their concerns and objections to the project were not being heard. Coupled with the long line of people waiting to get in and the fact that the room could only hold a small portion of the crowd that turned out, frustration quickly mounted. Attendees became quite boisterous and demanded a formal presentation from the Wal-Mart representatives and a chance to publicly voice their concerns about the project.


Greg Hathaway, an attorney representing Wal-Mart, addressed the crowd. He was repeadly interrupted as he clarified that the purpose of the meeting was to describe the store plan, not debate its presence on the site. After he declined to take questions, several of our activists took to the stage and, according to the Oregonian, "declared an open forum for opponents." I addressed the crowd, as did others who had concerns about the Wal-Mart store, covering a range of topics from traffic to labor practices. While this was taking place inside the room, I did my best to keep the hundreds in line outside informed about what was happening. Many people did spend time at each station, asking questions, learning about the project, and getting as many facts as possible about the proposed development. The event was very well covered by the local press.


Last night's attendance was estimated at 650--an extraordinary turnout. I've received many emails in the past 12 hours debating the merits of what took place: some praising the fact that we found our voice and were not going to be shunted aside by Wal-Mart's neighborhood meeting format, others concerned about "hijacking" the meeting and marginalizing our movement. It is not my role to make a judgement as to whether our actions last night were "right" or "wrong." This Wal-Mart store at this site is of great concern to many people. That concern will be expressed in many ways: professionally through the work we'll do on the technical merits of the project, politically through our communication with city, state, and county officials, and personally through our attendance at events like last night's meeting. Sometimes, we're going to get hot under the collar; sometimes, we'll be level and calm. From what I know of other anti-Wal-Mart groups across the nation (and our fellow citizens in Hillsboro and Gresham), we are in line with a "typical" Wal-Mart resistance.


Given the nature of the meeting last night (the lack of a formal presentation, the disruptive nature of the gathering, etc.), some have wondered whether this was a "valid" neighborhood meeting. We are probing that question and will be back to you with an answer. There was also concern about the use of the name on the sign-in sheet. From what I understand, the names are a formality and are not an indication to any official that a citizen is for or against the development.


The focus of this email, besides an update, is to answer the most pressing question asked of me last night: what comes next? Here's a short answer.


- We will be formalizing the Save Cedar Mill group by incorporating as a non-profit organization.
- We will begin a large fundraising campaign. This will help us hire the legal and consultant expertise we need to guide us through the process that lies before us and help us identify the issues that will gain us the traction needed to stop this project.


- The budding leadership of the Save Cedar Mill group will huddle next week. We'll formalize who heads up the various committees, get ourselves organized, then assign all of you who've expressed an interest in helping to those committees.


- Inspired by last night's activism, we are going to find ways to apply political pressure to aid us in stopping this project. This includes lobbying the City of Beaverton, the Peterkorts, Washington County, and Wal-Mart. It is important that those in favor of this project fully understand the scope and depth of our opposition to it.


Many people have petitions to turn in. We will be getting a PO box to which you can send them. Until then, please send petition pages to the following address:


Steve Kaufman
3003 SW 153rd Dr. #201
Beaverton, OR 97006


On a personal note, I want to thank each of you who attended the meeting last night. It was very encouraging to see so many people turn out and say "My opinion counts!" I also want to thank those of you who could not attend but who sent emails of support and encouragement. I remain very impressed with the dedication and support our young movement continues to demonstrate.


Best regards,
Steve

homepage: homepage: http://www.savecedarmill.org

On it !!! 13.Mar.2005 01:06

whistle

The turnout reported for the walmart informational meeting on 3/10 exceeded my wildest imagination, and gives hope to the possibility that WM will eventually be shown the door.
The appearance in show of support for a future not dominated by price-out corporations gives cause to wonder if people aren't starting to give thought to ideas of taking a greater role in managing the factors that create the economic make-up of the region in which they live, rather than hand it over to small groups of elected officials appointed to a system of government that requires them to making far reaching decisions affecting millions of people through elitist networking.
One aspect of denser population, is that there are greater numbers of people within that population capable of understanding scenarios represented by a major conversions of land from one use to another. This understanding can come dramatically into play when the livelihoods of people living within the area holding that land are directly affected by those conversions.
Too much open land has been converted. Too many people and businesses as a result, depend on increasingly insufficient basic resources, such as water. What appears to potentially be the beginning of a record setting drought for the spring/summer/fall of 2005 we now are facing, may give us a memorable example of the consequences that occur when a region is overbuilt and overpopulated.
Had there been a greater vision and appreciation, years back, of consequences of the kind of development we now have in the valley, problems we now face may have been averted.
For now, we can rally strength in the realization that just maybe citizens are getting hip to the idea that their ideas about what their living conditions should be can and should determine the reality. This awareness may be the force that will give Walmart, other big boxes, and endless residential development the boot, here and beyond. I read some pieces from anti-sprawl.com...I reccommend it.

Vote with your feet 13.Mar.2005 09:28

Tom

This sort of community activity is absolutely stunningly positive and necessary.

There are individual actions that can be taken however-- no one has to buy anything at all from Wal-Mart. I can't tell you how many "progressives" I know who shop there "because it is so cheap" and "I can't afford to buy at my locally owned store."

Until that mentality is broken, the anti-Walmart efforts will be largely ineffective.

Just come right out and say it! 27.Mar.2005 14:17

humble citizen

Why don't you just come right out and say it. You think that Walmart is absolutely beneath you and would attract the wrong kind of shopper. There are plenty of people who make a very good living that would shop there. There is nothing degrading or shameful in trying to save some money on everyday items that your family needs. If Walmart doesn't put a store on that property, someone else will. We could sure use another VACANT office building,or,better yet, another medical building!. You are such a self righteous snob!!!!