Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Destroying What You Love, In Order to Save It.

There's a large field, a few blocks from where I work.  This piece of property belongs to the University of California at Berkeley, which uses it for agricultural research.  Some years, it is planted with (what my spies tells me is bio-engineered) corn, many years the field is left fallow.

I drive past this plot of land when I go to the paint store.  I regularly see large flocks of turkeys, foraging in the middle of town.  I've seen deer and hawks, and the guys at the paint store tell me that they've watched bald eagles.  Along the edge of the field there's an undeveloped hedgerow, what might be called a prettyish kind of a little wilderness.  The wild bushes are always bursting with songbirds.  I'm a huge fan of hedgerows, which provide habitat for all sorts of plants and animals.  Given how little wild ground exists in the urban environment, it is always nice to see a hedgerow thriving along a busy city street. 

A few days back, I learned that the field was the site of an Occupy protest, calling itself Occupy the Farm.  People were protesting UC Berkeley's long-standing plan of selling this piece of land for retail and residential use. 

I had reason to go the paint store today, and drove past the field.  Folks were hacking down the ground-cover and digging long trenches.  There were a scattering of tents in the middle of land.  The animals had all fled.  I asked the owner of the paint store about this protest, and what was behind it, and he told me that there had long been a plan to build a grocery store and housing for the elderly.  UC Berkeley is not the flagship agricultural school in the UC system, and considering the economic pressures on higher education, it made some sense to sell off this piece of land, which is located miles from the actual campus.  We had an interesting discussion about tax revenues and the Occupy movement. 

On the way back to work, I noticed a shirtless urban hippie, chopping down the hedgerow with a machete.  A parking space presented itself, and I stopped to ask him what he was up to.  He was, he told me, saving this piece of land.

And this is when my head exploded. 

Barely containing my frustration, I asked him if he understood that he was destroying urban wilderness and demolishing habitats for wild animals.  He didn't pause with his machete-hacking, and he clearly didn't hear a word I was saying.  He insisted that he was saving this land as open space, and when I pointed out that he was actually wrecking it, he acted like I was his enemy.  He angrily chopped the bushes down to the ground, and told me that I wasn't able to see the future where this piece of land would be saved by his action.

Sometimes I really hate humans.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Lisa - good on you for confronting this behavior. This particular Occupy gather seems to be confused about the facts in many ways; that young man particularly so.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I want to be very clear: I support the greater goals of the Occupy movement.

There are plenty of things in our society that should be protested. And there are many brilliant forms of creative non-violent protest.

But I think this particular fellow was being a destructive unthinking ass.

Chrissy said...

Idiot. IDIOT. What are people thinking? "This land needs to continue to be open space! That means no plant life!"

Kate said...

Don't hate humans. We are all so trapped in our ignorance. Some more than others, apparently. What I see here is at least one beautiful person who loves a place in an up-close way. All of the places that have been saved so far exist because someone cared enough to protest. Save this little place. It is important.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa... It would be nice if Occupy got their facts straight! This is NOT the land where the Whole Foods, Senior Citizen Housing, etc. is planned!!!!!! They broke into the area and took it over "thinking" this is the land in question! Sadly it is not.

Knit Wit said...

Thanks for trying, Lisa. If what Wendy said is true, this is doubly bad. I'm all for acting for a cause if it's necessary but sometimes you need to make sure your fact-finding is up to the challenge.

Stefaneener said...

Did you read today that they were actually "saving" the wrong parcel from development? That parcel was two blocks down.



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