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Wal-Mart is coming to Sylvester, Georgia but who is surprised that there are those who didn’t want to see that big box in town.  Mrs. Mary from the Library told me a long time ago that “they” are meeting while we are sleeping—they being the moneyed crowd that has always ran towns and cities.  She said that city councils, school boards and county commissions are the place where the decisions made privately over breakfast are made official.

 

The above is not racial in nature because Blacks do the same in Atlanta, D.C. Detroit, etc.  It’s the new golden rule: he who has the gold…rules.  Mrs. Mary is no longer with us in person but her spirit and smile live as does the spirit of noted Albany State University pol sci professors Dr. Lois B. Hollis.

 

When she learned that I was from Sylvester, Dr. Hollis said that the committee to locate the Firestone Plant wanted Sylvester and several other small town sites in the area more than Albany.  But, they settled on Albany because the local leaders in Slytown (most of whom were involved in farming or ag-related businesses) gave the tire company the cold shoulder.  “If you play working folks that much money, who is going to pick my crops.”  I suppose people in the old numbers racket hated the Georgia lottery for the same reason and hookers hate loose women for taking their hustle (I better leave that one alone).

 

I think Walmart and local business can coexist.  Without a local wally world, those tax dollars would head to neighboring community with the big box giant and 75 new jobs is no joke.  The downtowns of these small cities must retool themselves to reflect the current market trends.  Do I shop at Walmart?  Oh yes, but I always make it my business to hit downtown and also minority owned operations weekly.

 

Local leaders don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  They should study what is working in other similarly sized community—read Georgia Trend Magazine.  Personally, I like the Mayberry style towns in which people walk, shop and act friendly.  The subdivisions of the 70s and 80s are dated urban/rural design.  The micro community (walking tracks around duck ponds) feels much better and we can return to the days when people didn’t drive everywhere.  Good folks can walk to the market and to church and fun folks can walk to the sports bar to watch the Falcons blow games.

http://www.georgiatrend.com/July-2011/Downtown-Discoveries/

 

So, I have lived long enough to see the same businesses who treated us funky in the 60s now welcoming our dollars to survive.  Competition…it’s a good thing and Wal-mart will never feel as warm and personal as a small business.  As quite as it is kept, small businesses provide most new jobs.  On the real, people without cars might be the key to revitalizing downtowns.  Converting vacant space into lofts is a starting point but new mix-use housing would be even better.

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I saw Annie Leonard on The Steven Colbert Show and she makes some interesting points.

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