Aug '08 - Jun '10
Since December 2006 a grove of oak trees just outside UC Berkeley's stadium has been occupied by a bunch of hippies. The University wants to build a new gym for athletes, and needs to clear this grove in order to do so.
You might think that this grove of oaks is particularly special, planted by John Muir, right? No. The University planted most of these trees 40 years ago. A couple of them are older, but I say out with the old! 20 year old athletes need to pump iron and grow big and strong too.
From August 2007 to August 2008, 365 days of hard work by the hippies saving the oaks, 3,088 square miles of Amazon rainforest was obliterated. That's almost 10 square miles a day. That's a swath of considerably denser forest the size of the city of Berkeley destroyed every day.
Hippies, you've got all worked up over the wrong trees. Plus, I think rainforest trees would be much more fun to sit in. Make friends with the monkeys. And panthers.
So yesterday a few us walked by the oak grove, news choppers flying overhead and news vans out on the scene observing the carnage. In the background, the crack and rumble of trees falling, the hungry rip of the University Man's chainsaw. A friend of mine heard some frat boys cheering on the destruction, and the hippies retaliating: "Go drink another beer!"
Meanwhile, the street was partially blocked by a group of about thirty hippies dancing in the street. It all looked a little sad to me; jubilation without a source, just aimless, pointless noise and commotion. Their trees were coming down, they were dancing almost desperately because they didn't know what else to do, and the news cameras were watching.
Bye bye, trees. I think I'll go to Yosemite next weekend.