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Let a Thousand Parks Bloom!
Gardening in People's Park
[Photographs Downloading - Please Be Patient]
Gardening has always been an important part of the activism surrounding
People's Park. People have been planting gardens in People's Park since
1969, and conducting other "User Development" projects to improve
the park, including planting trees, installing benches, and setting up other
Unfortunately much of the "User Development" frequently gets torn
out by the University of California, sometimes with police and bulldozers.
Over the years much of the gardening work has been concentrated in the area
behind the Free Speech/ User Development stage, seen in the top picture
as photographed at the May 1 concert in 1993. During concerts, people may
be seen wandering "backstage", enjoying the strip of garden on
the Western edge of the park. Much user development occurs during concerts.
Many an outhouse or bench has been installed during a concert, only to be
ripped out by university police the following day.
In the photograph shown below, a gardener has brought up the issue
of planting native Californian plants. Someone else has planted some pretty
flowers, but they are "alien invaders" - not native inhabitants
of California's semi-arid ecosystem. A recent drought in perennially water-hungry
California has underscored the importance of this concern. Native plants
use less water and require less care than non-native plants. Thus, environmentalists
encourage citizens to plant native plants in their own gardens. Moreover,
some of the "foreign" plants have a way of supplanting "native"
plants. In the long run, this can damage the local ecosystem. During a concert,
"user developer" gardeners share their knowledge on these issues,
and encourage others to help them beautify People's Park. This gardening
picture was taken in 1991.
The photograph shown below reveals "user developer" gardeners
working in an area that came to be called "People's Park Annex"
in 1991. It was not the first of the People's Park annexes --some "People's
Park Annexes" have bloomed as far away as Holland, for example-- and
hopefully this will not be the last People's Park Annex, either.
This area is a vacant lot on Telegraph Avenue, a short diagonal walk from
the park. The area is the site of the old "Berkeley Inn", an SRO
hotel which mysteriously burned down some years ago. Replacement affordable
housing was supposed to be built on the site, but year after year it has
remained a muddy hole. Behind the gardeners, one can the famous mural of
Berkeley in the Sixties -- with its People's Park Pole (Bulldozer Alert,
Everybody Gets a Blister). Many "gardeners" from all over Berkeley
came to beautify this spot before it was shut off from public access with
a wrought iron fence, which still "protects" this vacant lot,
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