On the top half, I depicted gentrification as a three-eyed dollar-sign demon injecting oppression into a young boy, resting on bars of money and bags of gold. Behind the demon, mother nature comes out of the sun, wielding a sword, and about to intervene to kill gentrification.
Janis honey chile/ you are ashes turned to dust/ laughin’ at us/ We are left on this planet/ with all the wars plagues famines/ starin’ us in our stupid materialistic faces/ all the crap we created/ finally comin’ home/ mirrors of our own sick souls/ love? what’s that?
Love people for who, and what, they are/ because people grow up differently/ and have different beliefs — so don’t judge./ We are all human, and we all / bleed the same./ Sadly, the world will never be perfect, / because of displacement, of racism, of sexism, of creed, and of money.
In Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, the love of a friend melts a captive boy’s frozen heart and sets him free. The Snow Queen tells him that if he is able to put together some pieces of frozen ice to spell the word Eternity, he will be set free.
Berkeley’s public was tired of paying for the destruction of poor people’s tents decades ago, let alone picking up the tab for circling them through courts and jails. Criminalizing people with nowhere to go is unethical, expensive, a ridiculous assault on the dignity of everybody involved, and a civil rights violation.
Depending on who you ask, moving homeless people into wooden cabins either rescues them from the streets or paves the way for dead-end shantytowns. Rhonda, homeless after losing her job as a restaurant manager, is grateful for the shelter but says it’s a cramped place to bring up her five-year-old daughter.
People from all over the world were coming to the Bay Area for the poetry and music, for the recognition of Howl as free speech, and for the chance to participate in a cultural change that has never stopped, any more than has the university’s ham-handed efforts to repress it.
People’s Park provides refuge for the “indigent” (as the University of California calls us), and remains important as a place for free speech and alternative cultural events. The Park is a public commons, and preserves trees and green space. It is a historic symbol of the era of peace and freedom.
For nearly a half-century, the community has continued to defend and maintain the park in spite of periodic confrontations with the University of California. The latest threat to the park — the announcement that UC officials are considering building student housing on the land — will not go unchallenged.
So much compassion has been lost in our society. Many people have become desensitized to seeing homeless encampments. They remind us that the unexpected can hit any of us at any time. We can lose our job or suddenly get too sick to work. Many don’t want to think about this.
The murals that young artists have created in Berkeley are a deep expression of their humanity and spirit. Prophetic art expresses their deepest feelings about gentrification and displacement, public health and social justice.