Update and New Blog
I have had little time to update these sites, as events have been moving quickly, and there's been some questions as to where things stand. There have been articles in the Ellenville Journal (including many postings to their forum page), radio interviews, public meetings, and private conversations designed to help address a particular issue in our community, the possible construction of a Wal-Mart SuperCenter at the Napanoch Valley Mall.
It was never the goal of S.W.E.E.T. to become an "anti-Wal-Mart" or "anti-anything" organization! The original purpose of this organization was to promote PRO-local economy thinking and action, and it shall remain so.
However, it would be hard to ignore that no other issue has so grabbed the community (with the possible exception of the Blue Devil mascot controversy!) as whether Wal-Mart is good or bad for the community.
I had said that it was not my intention to start a group to deal with that single issue, as S.W.E.E.T. was to be a broader and more measured entity, primarily looking at positive ideas and strategies that would make sense and be worth pursuing whether Wal-Mart had indicated a desire to move to Napanoch or not. I had hoped that someone else, perhaps more personally motivated to call attention to the potential harm a Wal-Mart could visit upon our area, would take up the challenge and begin to organize and publicize such a forum.
But, alas, the more I have studied, the more I have concluded that someone will have to get the ball rolling NOW, as there is little time available from when a contract with Wal-Mart is signed and they begin an application process. I have also, by default, it seems, become the point person on this issue, whether due to being the most visible or vocal, or because I have done the most research to date in this area.
However, I did not and do not want one single issue, and a seemingly obstructionist position at that, to so overwhelm and detour S.W.E.E.T. and its purposes, that it will not be able to accomplish its longer-term goals, as outlined in the initial post and elsewhere.
Therefore, I have decided to establish a new and separate blog, listserv, and website, with a new name and purpose, in which all future material and activities related to Wal-Mart or other big box retailers can be focussed. Henceforth, S.W.E.E.T. will not address the Wal-Mart issue, other than to act as a forum for presenting specific or general alternatives to dependence on big box retailers or other outside big corporations that have little or no roots or commitments to the long-term economic well-being of our community.
The new entity is called W-E-R-D, which stands for Wawarsing-Ellenville for Responsible Development and there will be a new blog at --
and a new listserv at --
and a new website at --
I'm still setting these up, so it will take a few days for them to all be up and running, with new links and other features.
I will also update the S.W.E.E.T. sites to reflect this new dichotomy.
Now, if anyone else has already started a similar group to W-E-R-D, or was planning to, please contact me. I have NO ownership issues regarding all this, and would just as soon let someone else take the lead. OR, there's no reason there can't be several groups working together, or even to network with existing groups in the community for common cause in this matter. Indeed, to be successful in educating and alerting various constituencies, it may be preferable to contact and partner with the various groups and individuals that make up this community, as each will have their own reasons for getting involved, whether over issues of labor and workers' rights, or sweatshop conditions, or predatory business practices, or environmental concerns, or the influence of large corporations on politics and government, or the tax base, or any other specific concerns.
Thus, all links and comments regarding Wal-Mart (in general or specifically in regards to the Napanoch siting) shall be excised from the S.W.E.E.T. sites, and moved to the appropriate W-E-R-D site. Meetings that specifically deal with Wal-Mart will be under the W-E-R-D umbrella, while those addressing the larger concepts of growing local economies for greater self-reliance will stay under the S.W.E.E.T. aegis.
I will address what is new with S.W.E.E.T. in a separate post; those who wish to focus on this aspect of local economies, regardless of your feelings about Wal-Mart, are welcome to join the S.W.E.E.T. listserv and check out the S.W.E.E.T. website and contribute your ideas and help implement the various pilot programs that have been set up successfully elsewhere. I hope to invite various experts and speakers to our area to give us the benefit of their experiences with growing local economies, and I plan to organize S.W.E.E.T. in such a manner that it will not become mired in specific heated debates, but will be a completely independent and positive organization, devoted to research and implementation of positive programs and projects that will improve the economic climate of the community, whether a Wal-Mart of other big box comes here or not.