I am an American artist/activist currently visiting your fair city. As a traveling street artist, Iâ€™ve been told many times over the years that I should visit Athens. I finally have and have found Athens to be as describedâ€”a wonderful town. I cannot at present recall a city of your size that I have passed through in the past 19 years of wandering that has had such a vibrant, friendly downtown as you have here. I hope you are able to keep it that way.
I have followed with interest the Selig proposal to build a giant Walmart in downtown Athens. Though I really donâ€™t have a vested interest in your community (any more or less than every other community Iâ€™ve been a part of, no matter how briefly), I do have an interest in the United States as a whole. Community is the key.
Every study Iâ€™ve ever read or heard of concerning the invasion of big-box stores has pointed to the destruction of local businesses, net loss of jobs and the flow of revenues out of the community. I would go further and say that big-box business models create a net loss of jobs and revenues for the entire nation, especially in manufacturing.
To think that somehow a Walmart in downtown Athens would have different results falls, I believe, into the realm of the definition of insanity.
I do not know your mayor or your city commissioners, of course, but having read City Dope (Flagpole Jan. 25), I would think something is amiss. I might suggest to those who have signed a petition opposing the Selig development to perhaps consider signing a recall petition as well.
I propose that Athens Land Trust and every other interested community-oriented organization should band together to purchase the land in question by any means possible. Create a cooperative grocery, a farmers/artist market, a community garden, art and music studios, an outdoor theatre/performance space, community kitchen and hostel, etc. I will be the first to donate my hard-earned pennies to the cause.
Please, citizens of Athens, please do not let your community be robbed by a family who already have one hundred billion dollars or more in their pockets. Just say no to a downtown Walmart!
David Erickson, America
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