Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Berkeley Tree Protesters

I have to admit-I sort of admire the four Berkeley tree protesters. 21 months with the Memorial Oak Grove is definitely admirable. The construction of a $124-million athletic center is even more reason to protest, especially at the expense of 42 different oaks, redwoods, etc.

As a personal vignette, I remember growing up near a fairly large wooded area. The neighborhood kids and I would ride our bikes through the woods to the creek that ran through them where on the weekends, we would swim, fish, skip rocks, and to the dismay of many of our parents, the woods was also the place we ran away to so that we could be alone with our childhood crushes.

But as we grew older, the trees did too. They became insignificant. Not only did they become overrun by cheeseburger wrappers and old styrofoam 7-Eleven cups, but gradually, sections of them were destroyed to make room for new economic development-a new Wal-Mart, more housing developments, etc. Today, the trees that remain have been left standing alone, awaiting the day when they too will be knocked down to make way for some big business to join in on the capitalist rat race.

I miss the days when those trees offered solitude. Nowadays, it's nearly impossible to go the the woods and skip a few rocks into the creek without being distracted by the deafening drone of the traffic on the highway. Or to retreat to the woods late at night to gaze up at the stars without the fluorescent, blinding glow of the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Where do we draw the line when it comes to economic development? How many acres of the natural world and wildlife refuge must we destroy before there are a sufficient number of corporate supercenters (::cough:: Wal-Mart)? Sometimes, I doubt that there will ever be a final act in this endless cycle of supply and demand.

Let's just hope that these arrested tree-sitters don't face felony charges for protecting the beings that may someday become extinct.

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