I find that I tend to see most things backwards. Regarding the MGM project taking shape a block or so from my house most people make some comments about the great things it will do for the value of my property; I can’t see why I would want my house to be worth more when my plan is to live here until I die. The only good thing would be the increase in property taxes my neighbors and I would be paying to the city…which would be the only “bad thing” in the view of most people. I’d be happy to know that MY community, its teachers, firefighters, police officers, DPW employees and the like were able to earn livable wages based on the value of the property therein.
Here’s another one I just don’t see as others do:
In a predictable ode to Springfield dysfunction the Valley Advocate published a piece recently on Springfield as a “food desert”. It was strange for the normally predictably crunchy Advocate to advocate for a big corporate solution to the supposed problem; “Why aren’t giant chain grocery stores moving into the city’s poorer neighborhoods…and putting the ma and pa bodegas out of business!? ”
I get the problem. Neighborhood shops, convenience stores AND big chain supermarkets sell corn sweetened and corn oil saturated processed crap at attractive prices and fast food places target consumers with low cost value menu items that result in many people, especially poor, struggling people feeding themselves and their children on crap. Part of the problem is cost and availability, but consumer preference is also part of the problem. I get that the “consumer preference” in question here has been engineered, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is what it is.
The closest gas station/convenience store to my house started a program to have fresh fruits and vegetables available at a table in the front a couple years ago. After 10 months or so of stocking the table, and tossing out load after load of rotting fruits and vegetables the table became a location for close out and sale items; fresh produce was available, but no one wanted it; at least not there. Apart from growing our own and visiting a weekly farmer’s market, we get fresh produce delivered to our house every week during the growing season via a local non profit(the one mentioned in the Advocate article). One week the delivery people accidentally left the delivery list in our produce bag (payment status included) and we learned that we were the only people who were actually “paid in full”, but everyone was still getting their “share”. Anyone can sign up. We pay $20 a week.
I live in one of the three poorest neighborhoods in the city, but here are two local (!) “fresh fruit and vegetable” options:
This is how long it would take me to get to the local market mentioned in the Advocate’s article:
Is there anyplace better than Springfield in the entire Valley when it comes to giving the poor access to high quality food?
First off eliminate all of the towns without public transit, extensive sidewalks, and pedestrian scaled traditional retail; even the farm stand a mile down the road is inaccessible if walking there means perambulating along a state highway. Next eliminate even the suburbs with some PVTA access and a sidewalk or two; towns like Wilbraham may have a market or two but how many Wilberburgers can walk on sidewalks to them?
What about the Hub of all things green and crunchy, Northampton? I looked for the cheapest apartment available in Northampton, home of the Valley Advocate, to see how long it would take a humble NoHo renter to get some fresh fruits and vegetables:
River Valley Co-op
Notice that walking isn’t an easy option for anyone from anywhere because there is no sidewalk, just a desire path, once you exit the property in either direction!
Anyone almost anywhere in Springfield could use public transit to get to any one of 4 or 5 supermarkets more quickly and easily! There IS a sidewalk in one direction at the Big Y. Looks like a totally Jeff Speck Approved walk too!
Once again, as with education, people misidentify the problem. When people say that the schools are bad what they are identifying is that poor minority students are a much higher risk to struggle in school than middle class White students. When people say that Springfield is a food desert what they are identifying is that the poor are more at risk of developing bad eating habits for a number of reasons. Yes, convenience and low-end food retailers are less likely to stock fresh fruits and vegetables, but that’s true in the suburbs as well. Wealthy people in the suburbs can drive to any one of a number of preferred high end or specialty retailers who do, however. They also might be more likely to have kitchens in which prepping food from scratch is somewhat easier, and they may have work schedules more conducive to maintaining a traditional meal schedule, and on and on and on; having money just makes things easier…
…and being poor makes everything more difficult, but if you had to be poor and wanted to access fresh fruits and vegetables, Springfield is the best place to live in the valley.