People’s Park was protected by many years of protests, and it has flowered due to years of volunteer gardening. Lydia Gans photo

by Arthur Fonseca

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ver since the University of California created a conflict with the Berkeley community by building a volleyball court in People’s Park in 1991, the war for People’s Park has primarily been a war of perceptions. The University of California has in place a standard policy of obfuscation and obstruction that hinders community participation, as well as occasionally attempting to criminalize the efforts of community volunteers.
This is not just a conflict over perceptions, but ultimately over our values, the quality of life in our community, and ultimately, how we function together to resist the degradation of our history by the corporate military-industrial complex.
Unfortunately, Berkeley has experienced a wave of development over the last decade that has put unprecedented pressure on People’s Park, so much now that the UC Regents are in the process of spending somewhere between 70 and 200 million dollars building a dormitory for out-of state students right across the street from People’s Park.
All of the money for these capital improvement projects is, literally, money that they don’t have, and they are making this community, as well as their students and workers, pay for their financial ineptitude.
It is a popular perception that People’s Park is somehow a detriment to Telegraph and the Southside neighborhood. It is my belief that if the residents and business owners actively take pride in People’s Park (i.e., contribute to the improvement and better functioning of the Park.), the benefits to commerce and the general quality of life in the Telegraph area would be immediately apparent.
After all of these years, is it not glaringly apparent that the the City of Berkeley treat People’s Park like a pariah, and the University would just as soon get out the tear gas and the truncheons? How else shall we make People’s Park a functional place other than with our own individual efforts in combination?
One of the most positive attributes of People’s Park is that it is an awesome place to have free concerts, and, as such, could be a tremendous draw for business on Telegraph. Volunteer activists have organized free concerts in the Park in the past, and their efforts made it apparent to everyone involved that there was a great deal of potential in these events for the Telegraph community.
The potential is there for a really fun event that involves a broad cross-section of the community, motivates the students, and shows off the Park and Telegraph to their best advantage.
It seems that if we the community can get together on projects such as free concerts, or perhaps holiday celebrations for the community in People’s Park, a lot of other good things can fall into place for People’s Park, and therefore our community.