Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Brewing a Tempest in a Coffee Cup A Starbucks Shop in Cambridge, Mass., Is Target of Protesters Who Don't Want to Swallow Rules of Capitalism

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Brewing a Tempest in a Coffee Cup A Starbucks Shop in Cambridge, Mass., Is Target of Protesters Who Don't Want to Swallow Rules of Capitalism

Article excerpt

There's a proud history of throwing the rascals out in this oh-so-liberal bastion near Boston.

George Washington began his rout of the British here in 1775. Nearly two centuries later, in 1966, an antiwar mob sent Defense Secretary Robert McNamara scurrying to safety through Harvard University's underground tunnels. He didn't come back for 29 years.

Now, residents have a new target for expulsion: the coffee-slinging capitalists at Starbucks. To get the Seattle-based chain to leave town, protesters have been picketing its new store here with signs that read: "Starbucks Has No Local Flavor" or "Don't Let Corporate Greed Destroy Our Neighborhood. Boycott Starbucks." To picketers in Cambridge's Central Square, and to several other communities trying to buck the Starbucks trend, the store is a symbol of yuppie-driven sameness spreading across America - of the force that would turn all shops and restaurants into a vanilla-flavored mall. Yet even these venerable activists may not be able stop the change - especially when it comes as a socially responsible company that simply serves up cups of java. Still, the protesters persist. "This is a very odd area - and we like it that way," says picketer Aldo Tanbellini. He's a neighborhood icon. Warmed by a fluorescent orange scarf, he strolls the streets, inviting neighbors to poetry readings. "All the creativity in Boston is in these three blocks," he says of the mixed-income neighborhood that's home to Cheapo Records, several burrito bars, and other one-of-a-kind shops. "Now that Starbucks is here, that's all going to change." Indeed, because of a city effort to spruce up the area, national chains such as The Gap will be coming soon. But this only adds to some residents' concerns. "It's part of the growing tension in the world between the mass-market economy and people's desire to retain self-control and some local culture," says Edward McMahon, an Arlington, Va. …

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