A Question Worth Asking About Yosemite

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There is an intentional lack of exterior signage for the new Starbucks at Yosemite national park. Photograph: Courtesy of Starbucks

Thanks to Freddy Brewster, the former Yosemite trail guide who raised the question, and thanks to the Guardian for airing it:

Yosemite’s secretive Starbucks: cafe opens in park, to delight and dismay

A new Starbucks provides convenience and caffeine to visitors, but to many it represents a trend of commercialism and 25,000 people petitioned to stop it from opening

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Australian visitor Tom Collin sips a coffee from the new Starbucks at Yosemite, part of a major remodeling effort inside the 128-year-old national park. Photograph: Gabrielle Canon for the Guardian

It looks and feels just like any of the other roughly 27,000 Starbucks locations that have opened around the world. The green apron-clad barista makes tall, grande and venti coffee concoctions that are handed over in familiar mermaid-endowed cups.

But from the parking lot outside – where there is an intentional lack of Starbucks signage – the world-famous Yosemite falls can be heard through the patter of an early spring rainstorm.

The Starbucks is part of a major remodel inside the 128-year-old Yosemite national park. It was built to provide comfort, convenience and caffeine to the 4 to 5 million visitors who arrive each year. To many, however, the Starbucks represents a trend of encroaching commercialism inside one of the nation’s most beloved natural landmarks.

That’s why more than 25,000 people petitioned to stop it from opening last week.

“I understand that they are trying to improve the infrastructure and make it better than it used to be,” Freddy Brewster, a former Yosemite trail guide who started the petition, told the Guardian. “But it is representative of what our culture is becoming. The government is increasingly dependent on major corporations. Time and time again.”

His petition states that with a Starbucks, Yosemite “will lose its essence, making it hardly distinguishable from a chaotic and bustling commercial city”.

On a wet day in late March, visitors to the valley didn’t seem to mind. Tourists in plastic ponchos scurried off busses and inside the cluster of brown buildings housing the base camp eatery, with offerings including Starbucks.

The cafe lured large groups of seniors looking to warm up between tours and teenage tourists clad in snow gear.

“Wait, there’s a Starbucks here now?” a girl with sardonically raised eyebrows quipped to her father.

Tom Collin, a 23-year-old lounging at a table outside the Starbucks while on vacation from Adelaide, Australia, said it was his first time at Yosemite and he was wowed by the sights outside, including the gargantuan sentinel rock, which can be seen just a short walk from the Starbucks entrance. But he was also happy to dip into the eatery for a coffee while he checked his phone, and appreciated the familiarity of an international coffee chain.

“I think it’s good. Because no matter what Starbucks you go to it’s all the same. Same quality, and you know what you are getting as soon as you walk in.”…

Read the whole story here.

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