We have watched the heated debate in Jamaica Plain around the probable opening of a Whole Foods store in Hyde Square with mixed reactions. After reading Sen. Chang-Díaz’s letter to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, we feel that our senator has made a realistic assessment of the damage that the store would bring to the community, and she has crafted a thoughtful and bold proposal that bridges the needs of an economically and ethnically diverse community with the community service arm of Whole Foods’ successful international enterprise (“Senator: No Whole Foods without housing fund,” JPGazette.com, April 30). The senator has weighed the pros and cons of the store’s entry into our community and concluded that there is a way to undercut the inevitable and rapid rise in property values and its accompanying displacement of lower income renters and homeowners: ask this successful corporate giant to commit to setting aside funding for affordable housing. What a great way to honor the diversity that exists, and acknowledge that Whole Foods can choose to play a role in its preservation or destruction.
Sadly, some media outlets and members of the public have distorted Sen. Chang-Díaz’s words. Rather than exploring this novel and productive possibility, some newsmakers and readers fixate on her suggestion to break the lease, portraying it as a militant demand rather than the respectfully submitted alternative path to avoid meteoric gentrification.
Wherever we stand on this issue, we hope that everyone in the community will listen to the words of others, and choose their own words with care. We also thank Sen. Chang-Díaz for clarifying what is at stake for the Jamaica Plain of today.
Nancy Sableski and Anne M. Rousseau