When the SF Chronicle erroneously reported that UC Berkeley was considering building an \”urban village\” on People\’s Park in Berkeley, which was supposedly discussed in a secret working paper on UC Berkeley\’s \”New Century Plan\”, it got us thinking. People\’s Park has been a pain in the University\’s side since students, radicals and community members took it away from the University in 1969 and planted as a park.
The park is a living monument to one of the University\’s greatest defeats. It proves that although powerful, the University can\’t get away with anything it wants in Berkeley. Although in 1969 police shot fleeing demonstrators in the back with shotguns, although the National Guard was called out to occupy Berkeley, and despite the passage of 31 years since these events, the Park remains and the University is no closer to being physically capable of building a dorm there than it was in 1969. The People put their bodies on the line and beat the University and the cold-hearted system it represents.
Every few years the University or the city float some idea to \”reclaim\” the Park by building dorms or something else there. In 1991, when the University anted to turn the park into volleyball courts, police again fired at fleeing crowds, that time with rubber and wooden bullets, and a few short years later, the volleyball courts had to be removed due to total disuse and constant vandalism.
Proposing an \”urban village\” is the latest great idea. Slingshot doesn\’t know what an \”urban village\” is, but it sure sounds nifty, doesn\’t it? A lot better than proposing a regular old \”dorm.\” We envision mud and grass huts-the newest straw bale construction technology-around a central village square where natives play simple computerized instruments and care for genetically engineered farm animals.