Berkeley, ranked the third most liberal city in the U.S. by Wikipedia, ironically also ranks number 14 on a list of the “Top 20 Meanest U.S. Cities.” And if that’s not shocking enough, wait ’till you hear their criteria for calling us mean: the study was apparently based on “how they treat the homeless who live within their city limits, as well as purported civil rights violations.” So basically they’re saying we’re not just mean, but mean to our homeless.

Maybe they didn’t realize that Berkeley has a park and basically all of Shattuck and Telegraph avenues devoted to our undocumented residents. According to the “Homeless Survival Guide,” (yeah we did some research) we also have over 13 churches and Food Banks giving away free grub, nine shelters and numerous free health clinics in our city. Food Not Bombs also serves a meal everyday at 2:30 p.m. in People’s Park and we’re pretty sure we’ve seen some “bums” with better laptops than ours. Our own mayor was even homeless for a day. read more »


Off beat, but impressive nonetheless. Yesterday afternoon Hippies and Hip Hoppers alike flocked to People’s Park for Students for Hip Hop at Cal’s annual Hip Hop festival, Hip Hop in the Park. This year’s show featured headliners Mystic and Clyde Carson, along with multi-cultural break dancing showdowns (for reals, yo–check out the pictures), a DJ, graffiti art and lots of … er–herbal refreshment in the air. read more »


800px-peoples_park_25_years.jpg Many of you Cal students love, loathe or perhaps live in People’s Park. If you feel strongly about the place and have a few years to spare–then now is your chance to contribute to its painstakingly deliberated future!

Drama went down at the People’s Park Advisory Board early this month when five members of the board collectively resigned. In short, the five wanted to get cracking on park improvements by holding a student design contest (because the College of Environmental Design doesn’t have enough of those), while the university–which owns the land–needs to think about that a little bit. What if they don’t want a park anymore? What if they want to build housing? No, not for the homeless people, but for graduate students (who are probably just as poor).

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 The People’s Park Advisory Board is scheduled to meet to hear public comments on a report and the state of People’s Park on Nov. 5. On Dec. 3 the Board will make recommendations to the University of California about the study and future steps.The draft can be viewed at the Web site of Office of Community Relations.It’s not so surprising that some people want change in People’s Park. It’s not exactly the most groomed, family-friendly place.What might be surprising, though, is that the university owns People’s Park. Yeah, we also thought the university only owned manicured lawns and buildings with metal grading that is supposed to look like bamboo.Now, tell us if this is surprising: the people fighting against the university for the fate of People’s Park also list “Saving the Oak Trees at Memorial Stadium” on their agenda.We were also surprised at some of the recommendations people had for the park, as the Daily Planet reports:
“I have said in the past that it would be great to have something small like a cafe to mark the history of the place and have a cup of coffee,”(Board member George Bier) said. “That’ll attract young people.” 

 Then, there is a whole Web site dedicated to “community members who are working towards improving the children’s play area at People’s Park in Berkeley.” Everyone has their own agenda, even the kiddies.And, of course, the University of California has plans of their own. It summarized in a press release several broad findings about the park, which indicate the direction the changes will actually go.

  • There is a broad desire for People’s Park to remain, to some extent, a publicly accessible open space.
  • The park should better fit the needs and interests of the local community and UC students.
  • There is a lack of coherent guiding principles, long-term planning, and programming to anchor the park to the local neighborhood.
  • The park is not an optimal place for providing food and social services.
  • Greater intervention and oversight of the park is needed to make it safer and more welcoming to the broader community.
  • Thinning and/or removing vegetation along the park’s corners and in wooded areas would improve sightlines and provide better pedestrian access points to the park.
  • There should be formal recognition of the park’s history at the site.
  • Image Source: George Derk, Daily CalPress Release: Ideas and reaction sought on report examining People’s Park future [UC Berkeley]University Seeks Community Input on People’s Park Report [Berkeley Daily Planet]People’s Park [Web site]People’s Park News [Web site]Office of Community Relations [UC Berkeley]


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