At the June Outside the Square Healthy Communities event we had the privilege of hearing from Garry Muratore of the Burger Off: No Maccas in the Hills group. He shared passionately about how the community of Tecoma in the Dandenong Ranges has been campaigning against the development of a McDonald’s store in their pristine town adjacent to a national park.
It’s very difficult to give this story justice in just a few short paragraphs. You can read up about the full story here. But essentially despite 9 out of 10 residents in the area objecting to the development and all Councillors voting against it too, McDonalds took their case to VCAT who overturned the Council decision and so McDonalds were able to go ahead and build their store.
With the Macca’s store now in place and operational, you’d think this talk would be a negative story. However surprisingly, it was the complete opposite.
Throughout the process the community came together to protest and boycott the store in fun, engaging and effective ways. They even went to Chicago to visit the McDonald’s head quarters handing over a petition of 90,000 people. The group built a strong community around what they want their town to be, their efforts have resulted in a review of the VCAT process, their campaign has gone global, and they continue to engage with visitors about the issue such that this store has very little patronage.
The take home message for us was to stand together as a community for what you want and keep going even in the face of scaremongery and bureaucracy. For anyone who wants to create change in their community this is critical!
I am sure this isn’t the last we’ve heard from the community of Tacoma. They have lots of ideas about what they do want to create for their community and will continue to stand for this to happen.
Stay tuned for Outside the Square Healthy Communities Part 2 to read more about local examples and next steps.