Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lesson from the Walmart in the Wilderness

Walmart's victory in obtaining its permit last Monday is a lesson for historical preservationists.

I noted something very interesting about the comments of the local people at the hearing. Many of them clearly supported the opening of the superstore. One woman said,"Many people call us dumb shoppers so let us have a Walmart." It's seems clear that many if not most of the local people wanted the new store. I get the sense that many of the people who opposed were from outside Orange County.

I don't think that the Board of Supervisors would have voted in favor of the permit if the majority of their constituents opposed it.

This is a lesson for historical preservation battles in the future.
It is good to get petitions signed and protests made but it is more important to win over the local people. Public relations campaigns should be launched. People need to be convinced that it is better to have a historical site and a nature preserve than just another store. Billboards should be purchased, flyers should be distributed in malls and shopping centers and Internet mailings sent. The people living there must be won over. Enlightened and educated outsiders are only a beginning. The people on the ground are the key.

This is what we must take from this setback.

I'm curious to hear what you think about what has happened and what could be learned. Please give me your views.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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