From Daily Kos.com where I write under "Nailkeg"
If you don't believe our Voice counts, then read on. First, you must realize that I am 73 and never thought of myself as an activist. But for the last year, I have attended numerous walks and 'meet ups' for raising the minimum wage in Kansas City, Mo. Guess what? The city council just approved a $13.00 dollar an hour raise for the minimum wage in KCMO. I know, it takes a few years to fully come into effect, but almost immediately a dollar will be added and I don't know if any other city in Mo that has taken this step.
But the fight I am most proud of was our fight against Walmart within the last year or so. This happened in Raytown, a city adjoining KCMO. We already had a big box Walmart, but they wanted to install a smaller grocery store in our downtown area. Raytown had just added one discount grocery and had had another discount grocery close after just a couple of months only 3 blocks from their proposed store. In addition, at the edge of Raytown in KCMO was another big box Walmart. How many Walmart's does one need within 5 miles?
We are a small city of 30 thousand and close to our downtown are a number of small businesses and in addition, the KCMO area has a number of grocery stores locally owned. Safeway and A&P left years ago because of the competitive nature of local ownership. The city council scheduled 3 meetings for the consideration of the Walmart store.
One of the first problems the city faced concerned zoning. The zoning commission wouldn't approve Walmart's plan. So the city council replaced one of the zoning commissions members. Still, the commission would not approve the plan; the city approved the project anyway.
In the meantime, during all city the council meetings, the room was full with standing room only. The hearings went on til midnight and after as one after another business owners and citizens spoke against the project. The only positive review for the store came from an owner of a small strip mall nearby who expected more traffic generated from the Walmart store.
Walmart had their attorneys and management personnel there to present their side. In the end, the city council approved the store.
Within a few days, we were informed that Walmart had withdrawn their application!
One will never know, but one must consider that the reason they withdrew was because of hours and hours of testimony that persuaded them that the area would be toxic for their interests. Seldom does Walmart back off and I am sure they would not have without our voices.
I have one last example of how our voice can make a difference. We must go back to the early 70's (I am old) when I bought a home just outside of Blue Springs Mo on county property. I was in my early 30's working a job that included hard physical labor. A shower to clean up was a necessity. Summer came and our water pressure dropped to less than a trickle. We would let all faucets stay open with a pan under them and in the middle of the night, we would have enough drips to provide a small amount of water, enough for some cooking.
I talked to our neighbors on this 2 block dead end road. They said this was normal and they had called the county water department without any results. I made the trip down town to the county courthouse in person. When I arrived at the water department, I was informed that the head of the department was not in, but they took my statement.
It was a 30-minute drive back to my house and when I arrived, sitting on my front step, was the head of the Jackson Water Department. I don't know if he had ever had any previous phone calls forwarded to him, but my in-person conversation had aroused someone. He said “You could have done anything but talk to them in the office. They will never let it go.” With in 3 days, we had a larger main water line put in down at the road and never again was water a problem.
Our Voice does make a difference and maybe the results will not be as I experienced, but being quiet will never make a difference.
“A whisper by many becomes a roar”