Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Demonstrating Values

The San Diego City Council took a vote, and took back another small piece of our community from the corporations, one of my favorites, Wal-Mart. Seems that big box stores should pay taxes, rather than destroy yet another competitor, grocery stores. Not to protect Safeways and Krogers et al, but smaller corner grocers, the specialty Trader Joe's and Harvest Ranch's and even Whole Foods. The vote was 5-3, 5 Democrats and 3 Republicans in an officially non-partisan City Council.

But here's the story I really like, it's something I've been talking about for a long time, the under managed, unprofessional, oftentimes dysfunctional, fractured environmental movement. It needs help, and it's good that there are people out there willing to put not just their money, but their time into supporting environmental groups with grants and seed money and a volunteer network and policy papers and activism. So long as they don't try to co-opt the agenda with one of their own.

A trip to the local Sierra Club "bookstore" tells you all you need to know. There are a lot of members in San Diego, and a bookstore would be a great resource for members, a way to make and spread information, to provide educational opportunities, as well as raise funds for operations, but 3 shelves with a dozen books displayed, a few boxes of gift cards does not a cash cow make.

Having an umbrella organization to earmark funds for worthy causes is all to the good, and I wish them well. But beware those corporate sponsors, and a no thanks to the corporate board member notion, that's the just asking for trouble down the road. Just like PBS has succumbed to the corporate dollars, just like the Democratic Party was and is seduced by the big donors at the expense of a national network on the ground that actually produces results, money comes with strings, and big money usually has big strings. But it all depends on the make-up and character of the people involved, to make sure that the focus is kept on the mission. So for now, right on dudes, if I had $200 grand to spare I'd be right there with ya!

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