Under the thumb of Wal Mart (Humanity One World)

Topeka’s Fourth WalMart

As a NOW member and current chapter president (which is a volunteer job, btw) it is my responsibility to address this issue in OUR community. Follow the links in this post. Follow the money. Occupy Wall St. and our future.

For those of you actually following this issue at cjonline, my home address does not make me “well-off.” I grew up in a large family with two blue collar parents and we used food stamps, went to Let’s Help for commodities, and were maybe one rung above ‘powhitetrash’ on the Ladder. Today I have what I need, and am grateful for it. My family was able to purchase this house cheap because it was my Grandparents home, and my extended family did not want to see it sold on the open market. My small family of four is still pinching pennies just like anyone else hit hard by the current economy favoring the wealthy. As for ‘where was I when everything was going up on Wanamaker Rd?’ Well, I had not learned about the real threat of corporate control over our economy and the consumer-driven market. I was still young and still in the dark. I was still in my ‘ME’ phase, and I did take advantage of Hypermart’s low prices.

Was I disappointed about White Lakes Mall becoming a wasteland? Yes.

Was I disappointed that so many local grocers, like IGA and Falley’s, could not keep up with WalMart? Yes.

Could I explain how & why this was a problem in the community? No, because I didn’t have all the information.

No, because I am still only one citizen against the Power of Big Money.

When I did learn about what multinational corporations were really doing to our entire planet, I quit them! I honestly get upset about the demolition of any green space, and don’t like the fact that we the public only hear about these issues after they’ve begun. If I had known the school board wanted to sell the land to WalMart, I would have started there. But I read about the sale after it happened, so I am here.

I do understand there is not much left I can do to prevent WalMart from building yet another store in Topeka. I personally quit shopping WalMart and now get my cheap foods at Aldi, and my fresh produce at Dillon’s & I try to support the Farmer’s Markets when my budget allows. I’ve also quit the Brands, because I’ve done way too much research into the impact global corporations actually have on our communities, and realize that bigger is not necessarily better.  How can Aldi start its new employees at $11.50 per hour (in Topeka) when it’s smaller than WalMart? Answer: Aldi understands and claims responsibility for its impact on the local and global society; WalMart dodges the issues their business practice creates.

I cannot bring the entire Topeka community up to speed on the information that has been available in the last ten years; I can barely keep up with it myself! Have you seen the film The Corporation? Have you seen the podcast The Story of Stuff? Have you seen the film WalMart: The High Cost of Low Price? (Which I referenced in my blogpost, which the Capitol-Journal linked on Thursday) Those are merely drops in the bucket of information available (thanks internet!) and you could find it too, if you can drag yourself away from Candy Crush & Angry Birds. It is up to us to have all the information, because large corporations are only going to spin information so that it benefits their best interests and bottom line. Politicians are only going to tell us what we want to hear. I’m digging out the truth. I am not anti-business; I am pro-locally owned business. Mom & Pop don’t own WalMart.

What I request of the planning department, and of WalMart, is to set a higher standard. As the wealthiest corporation in the world and the industry leader, WalMart can afford to do better.

According to the EPA, “typical green buildings practice careful site selection to minimize impacts on the surrounding environment.” Which raises the question: Why not revamp California Crossings, where there is already a parking lot and empty building, and small satellite business locations?

Real sustainability would eliminate plastic bags and give shoppers an everyday discount for bringing their own reusable bags.

Reducing emissions requires more than “turning off the truck engines at the loading dock.”

Water conservation requires more than a runoff containment pond (which breeds mosquitoes) but a way to actually clean and reuse that water, like plants and trees in the parking lot and a living roof. According to walmart.com “Our Best Price store prototypes in India filter storm water runoff from our rooftops and parking lots through layers of gravel and sand before reintroduction to the water table. They also capture and process wastewater from our facilities for reuse in processes, such as irrigation and flushing.” Why not start that initiative stateside in Topeka? A bare parking lot is only going to increase the heat & CO2.

Real sustainability would embrace the Green Building Initiative and the Living Building Challenge, information I’ve shared with the planning dept and council members.

Our Sustainability Advisory Board had proposed a goal that “Topeka adopts the most current building energy codes within one year of their publication.” In 2012 the city hosted a Smart Growth Workshop in partnership with the EPA. I challenge the City to adopt the goals set forth by the SAB and position Topeka as a Leading Capital City by further reducing our carbon footprint and creating green jobs such as the ones that would be needed if WalMart steps up to the plate.

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