After I read Wendy's blog comment, about how the protesters were trying to save a parcel of land that was, in fact, not slated for development, I did some research.
It wasn't difficult to lay my hands on the plans for the development of this land. A co-worker (who lives near all of this activity) shared the planning document with me. I also found the plans online. Heck, I had already learned most of the details from the owner of the local paint store, who knew the details well, because there has been ample community involvement in the planning of this project.
If you look at the above image, you'll see two yellow rectangles, which indicate where a grocery store and housing for the elderly will be built. These two projects are being built on a site that previously housed pre-WWII barrack-style tract housing. To get a sense of scale, look to the left of the lower yellow rectangle, and you'll see two baseball diamonds.
At the opposite corner of this image, you'll see a sort of "shark-fin" shape, at the intersection of Jackson Street and Marin Avenue. That's a about a block or two away from where the building is taking place, and where I had my run-in with the bush-whacking activist.
This field is not slated for development. It is somewhat unclear if the land will continue to be farmland, or if it will be used for recreation and what's called "open space." The land is not zoned for building anything at all.
Despite all this, there are a band of activists who have set out to "save" this particular bit of land. They've torn out the cover crops and are squatting on the land, roto-tilling the soil, and planting trucked-in vegetable plants.
If the occupiers weren't there, planting for this season's research crops would be starting soon. Goodness only knows what the scientists who are scheduled to work on this plot of land are thinking at this moment.
I do believe in many of the goals of the occupy movement. There has been too much greed and corruption in the banking system in America, recently. Money has been buying too much influence in our government. There is too much inequality in our society. Things are messed up, and citizens need to express their criticisms of the current situation.
Likewise, I believe in the sustainable agriculture movement. I think the food systems in America are deeply flawed.
But ultimately, I believe that we have to pick our battles. In the grand scheme of things, I fail to see how planting random crops on land that's used for agricultural research is going to solve the problems facing our nation.
Frankly I don't I find anything wrong with building a grocery store or providing housing for senior citizens. These are both good use of land that had once been the site of crumbling old apartments, and is now used by homeless people as a campground and latrine.
What on earth are these activists thinking? What are they after?
I just don't get it.