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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 public facilities...
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, even today.
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