Victory for Democracy and Nature

In a victory for democracy and nature, hundreds of people who attended rallies and public hearings got what they wanted on July 20 in the Pioneer Valley town of Southwick. A 66 acre farm field won't be turned into a parking lot for used cars. That was the goal of Carvana corporation. The CEO of the Arizona company made $3 million last year.

Maryssa Cook-Obregón told the Valley Post on July 21, “We have had three rallies (June 26, June 29, July 17). The first had over 100 (people), the second and third had more like 75. All took place in front of Southwick town hall.”

Cook-Obregón asked to be identified as a Southwick resident. But it appears she was being modest and is one of the leaders of the group that fought Carvana's scheme. The group has a web site at www.SaveSouthwick.com.

Cook-Obregón said, “Congratulations to the people of Southwick who fought with such collective commitment to save our town from something they felt was not in their interest or public good. The unity that brought folks together from all stripes and backgrounds was such a force that once we got going as a group, we created a really deep and powerful momentum. Carvana is a symptom of a deeper problem that the people of Southwick have woken up to, which is how to find a way forward in the 21st century world and economy. It’s one that the current town leaders have tried to address through developing the town. Well, it appears this isn't the kind of growth that many people in town want. Luckily, however, there are many ways to grow our local economy without selling our soul.”

She continued, “We see a town of people that are inspired to think in creative and innovative ways about how to make the town viable, but also beautiful and true to its rural and agricultural heritage. The thing is that vision IS possible; it just requires more work from both the town government and the townspeople, but we hope that people on both sides of the equation now realise that it will be worth the effort. The effort the townspeople put into stopping this and getting some sort of victory should reinforce that IT IS worth the effort.... We must address the root cause so that this does not happen again; the responsibility is on us to move onward and work with our town government to let them know we want to see a new vision for the future.”

Cook-Obregón went on, “We thank the people of Southwick for standing up and using their voices. This is just the beginning of hopefully a new dawn for Southwick. We must keep the momentum going! Save Southwick will be transforming into a different group soon...not sure yet what, but we will need your help and ideas to keep growing. We see this battle as won, but the war for deep change is just beginning. We hope you will join us.”

She thanked Al Norman of Greenfield for his help. Norman, who has a web site at https://sprawl-busters.com told the Valley Post that more than 400 opponents of Carvana showed up at a single Southwick planning board hearing.

Diane Gale is the co-founder of Save Southwick. On July 21 she told the Valley Post, “I counted at least 170 people coming and going at any point in time at our first rally, and another 110 at one point at our second rally.”

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