|A portion of a mural painted on the restroom in People's Park|
|Footpath into the park and canopy trees at the perimeter|
People’s Park is a lasting monument to the Free Speech movement that began in the late 60s and continued through much of the 70s while I was a student on the Berkeley campus. Walking around and through the park one sees many signs reminiscent of today’s protests. One also sees many elements comparable to any other community park – an expanse of lawn, a variety of trees and plants, a community garden, a stage, a restroom building, picnic tables, art and even a tot lot.
Though this is a park conceived and constructed by volunteers – some who considered themselves anarchists - its design is remarkably similar to other parks - conventional. It occupies about two-thirds of a city block, has paths that enter the park from each corner and side, and has signage, lighting, and trash containers. There are areas shaded by mature canopy trees and a large, open, grassy area in the center where a group had erected canopies for an event and a blow-up toy for kids. UC students were attending the event while street people relaxed in their low-profile but very obvious encampments.
|Picnic table, event canopies & blow up toy in central lawn area|
Is this a cultural landscape? I say yes. What is more American than protesting? Let us not forget that our nation began with the American Revolution. A column in Friday’s paper by Thomas D. Elias tells me that “the average income of the top 1 percent of Californians rose from $778,000 to $1.2 million per year, while the average income of people in the bottom 80 percent actually fell.” And a sign in People’s Park notes, “On Bloody Thursday, the day UC administrators had a fence put up around People’s Park, we took to the streets. 30,000 people marched. LET 1000 PARKS BLOOM!”
|Community garden beds line one side of the park|
|Another park sign|