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2005-07-27
St. Petersburg, FL Coalition Hosts Site Fight Conference Sept 1st

The growing interest in communities fighting big box sprawl has led to scheduling of a "site fight" conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. Sprawl-Busters is one of the groups endorsing this event. Here's a release from the coalition: "ACORN, AFL-CIO, Clean Water Action, Jobs with Justice, Sierra Club, Sprawl-Busters.com, Wal-Mart Alliance for Reform Now (WARN), Wal-Mart Organizing Project, WalmartWatch.org, and Wakeupwalmart.com are co-sponsoring the Site Fighters Conference on September 1st and 2nd at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida to bring together site fighters from across the country to share information, strategy, and best practices, and begin putting together plans and capacity that will pull us even and eventually ahead of the Wal-Marts and Home Depots of the world. The threat to local communities from big box developments has never been more apparent, and what is particularly obvious is that all individuals and organizations who want to influence development plans in their communities need to work together and share ideas. Only by working together will we be able to protect our communities, small businesses, natural environment, and working families. According to Wade Rathke, chief organizer of ACORN, "There have been some great initiatives to respond to big box intrusions, but usually we're just playing catch-up to corporate initiatives, and we're ill-prepared to contend and win with a better plan and vision." Attendees of this conference will form that plan and vision, so that site fighters around the country can go back home with the combined insights and experience of those who have engaged in this struggle already. Part of the reason why the Site Fighters Conference is being held in Florida in September is because with a burgeoning population, Central Florida is fast becoming ground zero in the battle against Wal-Mart and other community-wrecking big box stores. In June, WARN, the Sierra Club, and other coalition members dealt a heavy blow to Wal-Mart in its attempt to open a new superstore in an area of protected wetlands. Local residents packed an Environmental Development Commission hearing, making it clear they did not want a Wal-Mart that would destroy the wetlands and greatly increase traffic in the area. In response to the outpouring of public opposition, the commission voted down Wal-Mart's proposal. Also, in July, WARN released a report entitled The Need for a Conversation with Wal-Mart: Examining the Impact of Wal-Mart's Practices on the Central Florida Community. It outlined Wal-Mart's detrimental affect on the health care of its employees, as well as its other corporate welfare benefits such as infrastructure assistance, food stamps for low-wage employees, and tax breaks for "job creation." One of the new strategies WARN is developing is the opening of a dialogue with the multinational on improving its business
practices. The full text of the report can be found at www.warnwalmart.org .



What you can do: Mega-stores are not just popping up everywhere in your neighborhood, this is happening across the country. The Site Fighters Conference is a great way to build up this movement to protect our local communities and learn from those who have gone up against the "Wal" and other big box retailers. For more information and to register, go to http://www.sitefighters.org/. The conference will happen on Thursday, September 1 and Friday, September 2, 2005 at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. Registration Fee: $100 (includes 2 nights housing and meals).










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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