Monday, May 08, 2006

Internet Facilitates Fans and Foes Because of the Power of the Organized

The Internet is many things to many people, including a stellar trumpet blower to call likeminded people together, as highlighted in The New York Times’ article “Groups Opposing Wal-Mart Get Help from New Web Site”.

There is no shortage of small businesses getting in line to protest Wal-Mart. But the web is allowing two groups, Wal-Mart Watch and Sprawl-Busters to pool together their resources to launch the no-holds-barred Battlemart .

Launched this year Battlemart’s goal is “to level the playing field”.
  • The website offers users:Information on grants for citizens groups
  • Reports on the economic impact of Wal-Mart
  • Names of local traffic engineers to testify at zoning board hearings
  • A guide to brand names for your citizens’ group
  • Fundraising tips (“avoid labor intensive events like bake sales and car washes”)

According to Sprawl-Busters founder Al Norman, the website is intended to make it easier for people to organize against the big box retailer.
“It’s a grab and go. You download it and take it to your Sunday night citizens groups.

Wal-Mart Watch, the host of Battlemart, has received a cash injection of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Service Employees International Union. Wal-Mart Watch has awarded start-up grants from $500 to $3,000 to at least 10 groups such as Gresham First in Gresham, Ore, and Great Falls First in Great Falls, Mont.

Norman will work as a blogger for Battlemart to cover local campaigns to block stores and answer questions.

People will rally passionately around an idea, particularly when they believe their businesses are threatened. The Internet has proved again and again that it can bring people with mutual interests together to help build stronger businesses or help them rally together in solidarity.

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