UCSC Treesitting Protesters Barking Up Some Really, Really Big Redwood Trees

By: Jack Deal

It had to happen sooner or later on what is considered the most beautiful campus in the United States. With a population of over 20,000 and more coming, the University of California at Santa Cruz has to build some additional parking. That's because many of the streets on Westside Santa Cruz now require residential permits. UCSC has more students than parking spaces so freshmen cannot park on campus. Hence the new parking lot.

Unfortunately the new parking lot will require downing some redwood trees and this is something UCSC has consistently taught its students is a big naughty. The protesters are only being good students and incorporating into their behaviors what they have learned in their studies. Recently the University gassed and clubbed them in an effort to dislodge from the trees area but they refused to go. Again, simply reflecting what they have been taught.

The savvy University strategists gassed and clubbed them using the old 'rile up the natives' strategy from the Old School Procedures Manual. However, the same sharpies that ordered the 1) gassing and 2) clubbing forgot to read in the Procedures Manual the next step which is 3) haul their butts away. Granted hauling someone down from a hundred foot high platform on a redwood tree is problematic. At a hundred feet up it is important that the University be sensitive with the gassing and clubbing. The University isn't totally stupid even if their people forgot to read Step Three in the manual.

Getting clubbed and gassed is a rite of passage that many of us baby boomers can remember. We protested against Vietnam and Kent State and racism but I never remember tree protests. I am also not real clear about redwoods having their own spirituality even though ex Santa Cruz Mayor Scott claimed she regularly talked with redwoods when she had a city problem. I can even in some bizarre mental contortion understand that; always available, never interrupts, listens attentively, recycles... What I have trouble with is the doom and gloom. Where did that come from?

Take recent UCSC grad Cindy. I spoke with Cindy this week and she said she has to move out of Santa Cruz because the density is bad. I asked her what was density and she said she wasn't sure because she missed that lecture. But Santa Cruz and Cupertino have it. Mt. Shasta doesn't. She had a bad dream and went to her spiritual adviser who advised her to leave town ASAP. And she is. My God, now she and her spiritual advisor have me worried about the Big One here in earthquake country...

She's going to Mt. Shasta where the gentle and spiritual folks go. A sacred Native American natural holy place. I asked her could Mt. Shasta become Mt. St. Helens II and she said she did not know, probably missed that lecture too. I was just curious since moving from an earthquake to a volcano did not seem like my idea of lessening density; again, whatever that density may in fact be.

She seemed to think that living in a spiritual place near Indians would solve all her problems. She learned this gem of wisdom in her advanced studies at UC Santa Cruz. I explained to her that my wife and I have a palapa hut in a Maya village in the jungle and I've never had any sense at all that my Maya pals could solve any of my problems and they all claim to be indigenous Indians. They all speak Maya. Besides, even if I go to my ranch deep in the jungle to get away from it all I've still got problems. Bugs, heat, humidity, boas, crocodiles, jaguars...Indians or no Indians.

Cindy said my jungle ranch was truly undense and this led us right into the treesitters which presents a real dilemma for her. Should she do like her guru says and split or stay and support the treesitters? She asked me could I envision something for her and I replied the only thing I could envision was the Big One knocking down those trees. With that comment she gave me one of those 'you're just like my parents' looks. Actually someone like me that protested Kent State is more likely her grandpa now...

So I put on my thinking cap, alerted my network of international intellectuals and saw what we could collectively whiteboard to ease the stress on people, trees and densities whatever they may be.

So here are some possible solutions: 1) Transplant the redwoods with treesitters still attached. Big downer: requires NASA's space shuttle ground transport carrier 2) get affluent UCSC students and affluent UCSC staff to give up their Audis. Big downer: less likely than a NASA chauffeured redwood transplant. 3) Chant, meditate, teach-in, tele-communicate, fairy dance, bong, bop, bing and align everyone's chakras. Big Plus: it's cheap, stylish and requires no additional training or 4) chop those suckers down treesitters and all. Big Minus: the densities get all out of whack.

And just how would you feel if your kid was up in that tree? Would you truly be non-judgmental? At a hundred feet up unless he grew up in a lumberjack camp you would have to be worried and wished as a concerned parent he had gone to Texas A&M. Oh to be an Aggie right now...

We should do a little fairy dance so one of those nasty winter storms doesn't hit this week and knock the treesitters out of their tree. And maybe another fairy dance so the Big One doesn't come and shake them out before the University figures out what to do or somebody on staff actually reads the Procedures Manual. But remember when the density patterns start to shift strange things happen...just ask Cindy.

Could this be the convergence of intelligent design and natural intelligence? I'd ask Cindy but she probably missed the lecture. Maybe I should ask the redwoods...


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Jack D. Deal is a long time Santa Cruz resident and actually does have a jungle ranch. Related articlesmay be found at www.jddeal.com and www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com

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