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Wal-Mart and LGBT Activism
Jan 18, 2007

Update. Thanks.  LGBT.  Allies.

The more we win, the hotter it gets here in town.  On Tuesday the judge reconfirmed her ruling that the city erred in approving a 162,000 s.f. Superstore in a 50,000 s.f. zone.  On Wednesday the city manager was on the local radio station summarizing us as a small group of citizens who hired a "Seattle lawyer" and "fabricated" our case. 

This morning we head back into court to hear the judges order telling the city what it must do. One complicating factor. Wal-Mart rushed ahead to construct the building, hire employees, stock the store, and a plan an opening for next Monday.

One of the remarks to the website I help with (www.dontboxchelan.com) wrote to our group, "You all better start looking for new places to live..SOON! you will all soon be outcasts in Chelan! good luck with that! Go back to where it is you came from."

In the midst of the high emotion in our community,  I keep coming back to thankfulness for LGBT activists and the example you are to me:  patience, perseverance, love, hope.  I don't say those words lightly.  I say them as strategy.  I say them as the example that many of you are to me. 

Sandy from Hawaii keeps writing to encourage me – she was a leader in the legal effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii.  When I am on the website or KOZI radio answering community questions, your example has shown me that patience has a better payback than in-kind anger. 

We're a long ways from where we hoped to be: discussing the pros and cons of big-box stores in our community.  Like whether a single monolithic employer is better than a diverse local economy.  Like the effect of money that recirculates in town rather than funneling to a corporate headquarters.  Like whether the low prices of a big box store are part of fair competition or monopoly and monopsony.  Like what does it mean that 90% of Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart, and do we want to join that number?

We're at the point of name-calling: "fabricators," "outsiders," "rich Seattleites,"  ‘taking over our city," "selfish," "ignorant," etc.  Our local business community has been very supportive of our efforts, but very quiet.  In the face of the outlash, I understand the silence.

Still, yesterday a local business person called in to KOZI, talked about his lifetime here in Chelan, and how this time in our history is about Wal-Mart, but much more than Wal-Mart, it's about the future shape of our valley, and he talked about wanting to keep some of the character of this place for his kids.

I called him in the evening and he told me.  "One person on the radio was negative about me, but I got fifteen calls and emails thanking me for speaking up."

Allies.  The more we speak the more we discover that we are surrounded by support.  Last week, after a day of particularly high emotion (four hours of radio call-in) Anne and I went to bed with residues of the day's anxiety—and also an awareness—we're going to make a lot more friends here in town because we're standing up and speaking.  Community. What a many-splendored thing. In the midst of all the activity, we recognize that this is a spiritual experience.

Financial Update: 
Almost 150 people contributed to cover the $15,000 dollars of court fees to cover our petition.  With the rehearing we have another $5,000 in fees. This is a case with national significance. If you're interested in helping, I'm including the donate button in this letter.  At the end of the proceeding, anything collected in excess of our legal fees will be given to the Chelan community food bank.

Pastor Bradley Schmeling Trial:
Trail begins tomorrow, January 19.  St. John's Lutheran Church is organizing a prayer vigil. For more information visit their website,

Blog with Pastor Dave Glesne:
I continue to be thankful for the blogging opportunity with Pastor Dave Glesne and his book, Understanding Homosexuality.  Apologies for not writing these last two weeks.  As you can see, where caught up in our local moment. I'll get back to the blog when I can get a bit of energy to reflect and write.  Thanks for your patience.

Blessings and peace, good friends,

Lars


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