I Don't Want McDonald's As My Neighbor...But Neither Does Anybody Else

A few issues ago, when the front page of the Observer announced the possibility of McDonald’s taking over the old Detroit Theater, the news came as a surprise to many Lakewood residents. I probably spoke to at least ten people that day about this piece of information, ALL of whom expressed disgust (and that’s a mild descriptor) at having McDonald’s move into a much more exposed area of our neighborhood...into a historical landmark, at that.

But as the day went on, I became more curious about just how far anyone would go to prevent this from happening, and how truly disgusted they really were. Why DON’T we want McDonald’s in our community? I started asking everyone who was willing to talk about it if they ever eat at McDonald’s restaurants. The answers ranged from, "Never!" to “Sometimes, if it’s the only option,” (which I strongly believe never to be the case, but I’ll save that rant for another day), to “Once a week.”

How can we be saying in the same breath that we hate McDonald’s, but still want it around for those occasional indulgences? Is McDonald’s like the mistress of our diets--hidden back on Sloane, where we can access it when we get a craving, but don’t have to be constantly reminded that it’s there? Add to that the irony that the McDonald’s is almost in the same parking lot as Nature’s Bin. Appalling!

I tried answering the “Why don’t we want McDonald’s?” question from a friend recently, and my first blurted response was, “Because I don’t want Lakewood to turn into a crappy neighborhood!” In a way, I had put my foot in my mouth. Does McDonald’s really create “crappy” neighborhoods? Why do I associate the two? Would I rather McDonald’s be in a much less economically inclined section of the city? The hypocrisy of that initial thought is embarrassing, but it brings a lot of good points to light.

You would NEVER see a McDonald’s in a truly wealthy neighborhood, yet you DO see Jaguars and Mercedes passing through the drive-through windows, along with the Toyotas and Fords. The truth is, people want McDonald’s, we just don’t want them in our own backyards. So, within our power, we continue to push them out of our neighborhoods until they get far enough down the chain to reach people without political or economic leverage.

Although it seems as though the McDonald’s/Detroit Theater project is going to happen, there is at least one more opportunity for those who are interested to voice their concerns. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15th, in the Main Library Auditorium, there will be a community forum to discuss this very issue. While I stick to my belief that the world would be better off without fast food at all, the reality is that this is something we have to deal with. And honestly, I would like to hear some opposing arguments, if only to get the discussion going.

Let’s show up, stay vocal about this, and try to have more of a say about what happens in our own backyards.

Erika Durham

I am a 26-year-old woman who drinks coffee and beer, rides some bikes, reads, takes pictures, makes stuff, and runs long distances.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 8:19 AM, 06.15.2011