Harriet Fasenfest, owner of the Alberta street coffee shop Groundswell, worries about Starbucks a lot. Like Wal-Mart or McDonalds, Starbucks has become shorthand for out-of-town corporate entities muscling into a neighborhood. These stores, explains Fasenfest, generally only create low-wage jobs in the neighborhood while the real profits go to corporate headquarters elsewhere.
Unlike other recently developed districts, like the Pearl and Hawthorne that are pocked with Starbucks, Subway, and Ben & Jerry's, so far the businesses along Alberta are all owned by local residents. But Fasenfest wants something more than peer pressure to convince landlords not to rent to non-local companies.
"People shouldn't spray paint on buildings or break windows; that's inarticulate," says Fasenfest. "It takes more thoughtful discussion than that."
Towards that end, Fasenfest hopes to set up a unique scheme called a land-trust. Under such a plan, the city would purchase property along Alberta and rent only to proprietors who meet specific qualifications, like being a local resident.
But so far it seems as if the impetus for a land-trust will need to come from within the community itself. When Fasenfest approached Sam Adams, the mayor's chief of staff, she was turned away. "It was sort of like, 'We'll listen to her when she gets more people.' I think they figured, 'She'll go away; she'll get tired.'"
To prove her resolve, Fasenfast has arranged for Stacy Mitchell, an expert from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance to speak this Monday about building up local economies. Medicine Hat, 1834 NE Alberta, 7 pm. PB
Road tripping is fun, but it can also have a political agenda. Hit the road with these summertime rallies.
Seattle: A massive rally is being held to protest the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, a national organization that helps set policy for police spying. Monday, June 2, Westlake Park (Seattle), 6 pm. For more info, 877-570-2709.
Sacramento: Does the WTO put a bee in your bonnet? From June 23-25, representatives from180 nations will meet to discuss ways to make trade flow more easily--which usually means relaxing protections for workers and the environment. For more information: www.nwrage.org. PB