The Local Side of Globalization

I’ve traveled quite a bit this spring—to Idaho, Wyoming, North Carolina, New York, passing through Georgia, Utah, and Nevada. In my travels, I’ve noticed a remarkable number of restaurants, stores, and travel industry businesses that are ubiquitous—the same from East to West to South, with completely predictable offerings of food or merchandise, or pleasant enough cookie-cutter lodging. There’s an upside and a downside to all of this. The upside is that one may find what one is looking for without much fuss. I recently joined a nationally franchised women’s gym and was able to work out in various locations along my route as I traveled in North Carolina. I found myself hungry for a particular type of food—and there was the restaurant I sought, just looming into sight. The downside is much more insidious. When those big chains arrive—especially large retail establishments—a good many local businesses go under, and we lose local color along with needed jobs. What happens to our culture when local businesses, where they know you by name and have some sense of who you are, are closed down by big chains, where interactions with staff mostly seem impersonal? Many in my neighborhood resisted the redevelopment of a nearby shopping center because the developers proposed to make a nationwide pharmacy the anchor store in a shopping area that currently consists of owner-run businesses. Our nearby local pharmacy, one of the few stores I can still go where the owner/pharmacist knows who I am and greets me personally, likely would have been forced to close. Bigger is not always better, and I’m glad I still can place a call to my local pharmacist and request to have my prescriptions delivered to my home on days when I’m way too busy to get to his store before closing.

These ruminations were prompted by David Morse’s "A Quaker Response to Economic Globalization" (p. 6). After learning about the militarization of the police force that confronted essentially nonviolent protestors at the North American Free Trade Agreement demonstrations in Miami last November, I invited David Morse to write something for us about this ominous trend. He responded with a very thoughtful and wider-ranging piece on the effects of globalization. One of his first sentences sets the tone: "The challenges arising from economic globalization are surely among the greatest we face together as Friends." I encourage you to read it.

We have had an additional staff change here at the Journal. After 21 months of outstanding work with our circulation and marketing systems and procedures, Larry Moore is now serving as director of marketing for Episcopal Life. We miss him, but heartily wish him well. I’m pleased to announce that Anita Gutierrez is our new circulation and marketing manager. A native Californian, Anita worked as marketing director for the Center for Third World Organizing. Actively involved in the founding of the Independent Press Association, Anita directed all technical assistance programs for the IPA and was responsible for event planning and public relations of the IPA’s New York office. In her most recent position as associate publisher with City Limits, an urban affairs magazine in New York City, Anita handled marketing, advertising, and development tasks. She has told me that she is passionate about peace and social justice work. We are delighted to have her join us!