I am a creature of great passion, not just on the page but in my personal world I feel there must be social justice. I was brought up with a set of values and beliefs that I feel I can give voice to here, in my own little blogesphere! SO, To introduce you all to some of the passions I have a little piece of writing that I submitted for publication back in March to a local newpaper, but it was shelved at that time. I was asked recently to revamp it and update it for the upcoming issue.
But so much had happened I decided to rewrite the piece from a more current perspective.
I’m talking about The Little Town that Roared against McDonalds, Tecoma.
My home, my heart, my spirit lies there. I made the decision to moved there over 6 years ago to give my son and I a better life. He attends the school less than 150mts from the proposed site, so HELL YEAH, I’m passionate about this.
I have been to the rally’s I have stood at the site, I have talked to the people, my community and shed tears this morning as we felt like we lost the fight. Today, the historic Buildings were bulldozed… Here is alittle background for those who wish to know more.
9/10 say NO to McDonald’s in Tecoma
We gathered in Belgrave next to the iconic Cameo Cinema in the midday sun; hats, sunscreen and a sea of red t-shirts that clearly stated intent!
I Voted No to Tecoma in The Hills!
Gnomes on sticks, fairy wings, dress ups on kids and adults alike this was a fun and family orientated rally. Children were everywhere, most holding placards they had made themselves. One was even wearing an ‘A’ board with…. No Macca’s near my school on the front and No Macca’s in the hills Don’t think Global, think Local on the back.
Many cars passed us as we gathered in the car park and spilled along the footpath, most honked and shouted their support, a few people yelled out ‘Get a Life’ – which was the whole reason we moved to the Hills. Well for me personally anyway! I moved here nearly 6 years ago, with a little baby boy from Noble Park, where car stereos and horns would wake me at ungodly hours, shouting in the street, locked doors, fences … the suburban scourge of not knowing your neighbour. Within a month of moving to the Hills I had met my neighbours on two sides and a month or so later, the neighbours across the road! It was clear, that the lifestyle here was something to value and cherish; and for most people I spoke with that day, that’s what they were there protecting… our lifestyle!
The drummers began the beat raising the energy that set the pace for the march… and we started off down the footpath. No road permit had been granted and the police were there to see that the 4000+ attendee’s stayed to the path. We did, to a point, but at the top of the hill coming into Tecoma a red and white DANGER ribbon was carried amongst the volunteers wearing high vis vests and assisted us in taking over at least part of the road in a small act of civil disobedience.
Shouts of “what do we want” No McDonalds! rang out through the crowd as we marched to the Tecoma Primary School, across the road from the proposed McDonalds site. A truck stage was set up at one end where singer, Alex Legg encouraged the marchers, drummers, protestors, to all gather around for some music… He played songs including – the seminal protest song from the 60’s that seemed no less apt today – Joni Mitchells, Big Yellow Taxi. The crowd in high spirits provided doo-woops as back ground until the marchers all filed into the car park.
Davey Heller, one of the organisers of the event today, took to the stage to inspire people into more action. For those who don’t know the background, a quick recap! The people spoke, where over 1200 objections were sent to council back in 2011 stating that they didn’t want McDonalds in Tecoma. Over 600 people attended the meeting where council denied the permit to build, and in late in December (at the 11th hour) McDonalds filed with VCAT who heard the case in early 2012 and handed down their poorly thought out decision in August to overturn the council and allow McDonalds to build in at the site. The “No Macca’s in the Hills Movement” began by building a community garden on the vacant land to show ‘Resistance is Fertile!” The one night it wasn’t ‘manned’ the garden was trashed and someone burned the marquee. They rebuilt the space again but a few days later the owner of the block of land Dr Joel Freeman came with the police to ‘secure the site’ with temporary fencing. Since then we have had actions that have seen a more grass roots method employed as the decision to not go to Supreme Court was made with the intention of never giving McDonalds a cent!
Davey continued to talk about the next lot of direct actions that we as a community can take. Over the coming month in the lead up to the proposed build date, all information about them will be posted using Social media like FaceBook and twitter – the armoury of a new generation! Davey also spoke directly to any members of the McDonalds Corporation who may be in the crowd asking them to,
“Picture an opening day of the proposed Tecoma store. Do you seriously think we will not be there protesting non-violently on that day and giving McDonalds the worst opening day in the history of the corporation!?”
The crowd responded with whoops and cheers of support for the action that would be taken on that day! A clear message was sent to the McDonalds Corporation – 9/10 people do not WANT them here and they will not support them.
Local Resident and singer/songwriter Brian Baker took to the stage to sing the Ballad of Tecoma – a song that truly gets stuck in your head! To raise funds for the continuing fight at a grass roots level – a CD has been produced called “Resistance is Fertile” it can be purchased on line at Burgeroff.org
Many actions mean that money needs to be raised. A unique method that the movement came up with was the Adopt a Gnomes of Tecoma Scheme. 12 Uniquely designed gnomes were auctioned at the rally all going to good homes around the hills to help continue the fight! Earlier this year Gnome-geddon was unleashed on the Collingwood headquarters of the McDonalds Corporation and the CBD to show the plight of the people of Tecoma. They are now a symbol synonymous with the resistance. The idea behind all the recent action has been, what the community can produce is green space, instead of what the corporation can produce which is increased waste!
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