CCS Film Screening – Does Durban need a post-shopping centre congress? See WAL MART: The High Cost of Low Price directed by Robert Greenwald and Story of Change with Annie Leonard

Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College
Date: 18 September 2012
Time: 12:30-14:00

From 19-21 September, the Durban International Convention Centre hosts a Shopping Centre Congress, sponsored by one of South Africa’s most environmentally-destructive financial institutions (the country’s second largest coal lender). Delegates will discuss how to spread social alienation, severe economic distortions and ecological chaos. The damages being done by the US-style mall model are severe, and South Africa has an especially pernicious role insofar as our major retailers are also polluting other African countries with malls. This will get worse with the coming invasion of Wal Mart.

What are the eco-social costs of shopping centres? Isn’t South Africa massively over-malled and overbuilt for retail sales, coming off a 1997-2008 real estate bubble that was the highest in the world – twice as high as even Ireland’s? Aren’t South Africa’s households hugely overborrowed, especially with unsecured retail credit, thus threatening the local financial system? Hasn’t pollution become so extreme that South Africa ranks amongst the five worst countries for environmental management in the world, according to recent Yale/Columbia research? Aren’t the lack of rail freight and our deficient public transport to shopping malls contributing to preventable climate change? What about the labour, social and ecological conditions in which consumer goods are produced before we import them? What role has centralised retailing and shopping-globalisation had in destroying local, labour-intensive industries? Are mega-malls like Durban’s Gateway responsible for an irrational shift of urban planning towards the new class-insulated edge cities? Will Durban’s planned port expansion from 2 to 20 million containers per year by 2040 exacerbate these ecologically and economically catastrophic processes? Are South Africa’s social values – ubuntu, democracy, ecology, a better economic balance – threatened by unending US-style marketing and consumption? Hasn’t marketing invaded too many aspects of our lives? In short, can we begin talking about a post-shopping society in which our political, environmental, social, community, family and friendship relations take precedence over ineffective ‘retail therapy’, so as to maximise our life satisfaction and minimise our vast eco-destructive footprints?

If a post-shopping centre congress is needed to one day amass sufficient social power against the retailer/financier behemoths, a good way to raise consciousness about struggles against shopping is viewing two films with the Centre for Civil Society the day before the retailers gather in central Durban.

WAL MART: The High Cost of Low Price is a feature length documentary that uncovers a retail giant’s assault on families and American values. The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight a goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide healthcare for her two small children. A Missouri family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A mayor struggles to equip his first responders after Wal-Mart pulls out and relocates just outside the city limits. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins!

The Story of ChangeCan shopping save the world? The Story of Change urges viewers to put down their credit cards and start exercising their citizen muscles to build a more sustainable, just and fulfilling world.

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