The Crunch


Picture 6

In the Austin Chronicle’s 2007 “Best of Austin” issue, the award for Feistiest Neighborhood Rebellion went to Responsible Growth for Northcross (RG4N). True, the Chronicle gives its Best of Austin awards to just about everything, but RG4N really deserves it. They have been fighting to prevent the biggest WalMart in America from invading a quiet Austin neighborhood. To be clear, this is not a case of anti-WalMartism. Many citizens of RG4N probably like and shop at WalMart — they just don’t want one (particularly such a monstrosity as this one) in the middle of their neighborhood. From day one, this organization has been a model of grassroots activism — with a web site, fundraisers (including an Ebay store), citizen action at City Hall, meetings at the local church, yard signs, petitions, and eventually even a lawsuit. Fighting the world’s biggest company with virtually no resources is about as close to hopeless as anything can be, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. As hockey great Wayne Gretzsky once said, “You miss every shot that you don’t take.” The shots they’ve taken aren’t likely to end in victory, but we have a lot to learn from them anyway. Unlike the endless presidential elections which are only about money and polls, RG4N has reminded us how democracy is actually done. And that is a victory in itself.

—David Bonner

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