Catalyzing community action for food systems change
2012 Field Project
Responding to the controversy surrounding Walmart’s interest in building urban grocery stores in Somerville and Roxbury, the 2012 Practical Visionaries Field Project Team explored options for community control over local economic activity. Their findings are presented in the final report, “If Not Walmart, Then What?: Envisioning an alternative paradigm for local economic development in Roxbury and Somerville”.
In 2012, the PVW partners explored alternatives to Walmart, which had proposed to bring its urban grocery into both Somerville and Roxbury. Though both grocery store proposals are currently dormant, Walmart has set its sights on urban markets as its next growth area, recently pledging to open up to 300 stores and hiring 40,000 associates in federally-defined food deserts. They have begun to fund community and food efforts locally and across the country (for example a $1 million grant to Growing Power in Milwaukee).
The 2012 Practical Visionaries Workshop, titled “Community Strategies for Building New and Localized Economies,” considered how to create a community-based alternative to a Walmart-based economy. The PVW partners and the 2012 Field Project Team believe that Walmart is not the answer to justainable development and want a different development path for their communities. With a number of community organizations in the Greater Boston area, the 2012 Practical Visionaries Field Project Team was tasked with investigating the following questions: If Walmart represents one model of the globally unsustainable and inequitable economy, what would more localized, community-controlled models look like? What steps need to be taken to begin to grow these alternatives?
The Practical Visionaries Field Project wrote a collection of stories that illustrated the Walmart scenario and an alternative community development scenario. The team incorporated a range of perspectives into their work, advocating for a cooperatively-based economic structure over the mainstream corporate model.