Decatur, Georgia, recently got lots of attention when placemaking PR man Scott Doyon blogged about his neighborhood’s pub sheds in “Pub Shed: Mapping your five minute stumbling distance.” Doyon’s post went viral among new urbanists.
Missing from Doyon’s post, however, is that some of his Decatur “pub sheds,” notably the ones in Doyon’s own Oakhurst neighborhood, happen to be co-terminous with food deserts.
Awesome stuff there, Scott. You may be able to stumble home from your favorite bar, but your elderly and economically disadvantaged neighbors cannot walk to a grocery store, pharmacy, bank, or post office. And, proposals to open a new Family Dollar (which will stock groceries) one block from the dot on the food desert map (a favorite neighborhood watering hole, the U-Joint) during the first half of 2012 brought scorn from your neighbors. Why? Because they believe a Family Dollar will change the character of the community.
I wonder which is the better measure of quality of life: a “pub shed” or a food desert?
Update: After reading Dan Reed’s comment I fired up the old computer and used some good old fashioned GIS to show the relationship of area supermarkets/grocery stores to the Oakhurst neighborhood featured in Doyon’s post.
Update: Read the follow-up post on the Oakhurst food desert.
UPDATE (March 2013):
Two events in March 2013 validated the information presented in this post about food insecurity in Decatur’s Oakhurst neighborhood. The first was the start of a weekly municipally-funded “Golden Shuttle” to transport elderly Oakhurst residents to downtown Decatur where they could shop. The second was the release of a new USDA Food Access Research Atlas that updates the agency’s earlier Food Desert Locator and which is based on the latest U.S. Census data. The new USDA tool reports that Oakhurst “has a relatively high number of households (143 of 1685 total households [8%]) without vehicles that are more than one-half mile from a supermarket.”