natureA lot of wishy-washy, sentimental stuff has been said about the positive benefits of nature – stuff that we appreciate but often find a bit unsubstantial – but a new study gives some scientific support for that idea.

The preliminary results of a new study showed that feelings of awe can make people less self-centered and more generous. The study had subjects stare at our very own Valley Life Sciences Building and our eucalyptus grove. Those looking at our lovely trees reported more “humility, compassion and cooperation.”

In an urban environment like Berkeley, most people probably neglect to experience nature. This is why we love the fact that our school has areas dedicated to nature. It’s calming and apparently improves our willingness to cooperate.

Maybe all group projects should have a mandatory meeting in our eucalyptus grove? We could all sit in a circle, sing kumbaya and tree-hug our differences away.

Or imagine corporations having their offices in a building symbiotic with nature, complete with little capuchin monkeys delivering all memos? We know our productivity would rise just by being around awesome trees all day. This is our attempt to surreptitiously convince all of those Randian leaders of industry to plant a damn tree for once. read more »

Piedmont Trees

Imagine Channing Circle full of shady trees to sit under.

That is how the iconic meridian used to look like according to Friends of Piedmont Way, a group restoring Piedmont Avenue to its original design by famous landscape architect Frederick Olmsted.

Back in the early 2000’s, Friends of Piedmont Way began a project to return Piedmont Avenue back into “a broad and graceful tree-lined streetscape”. At the core of this group are Michael Kelly and Frederica Drotos, a husband and wife team that is determined to make Piedmont as green as it ever was, one tree at a time. read more »

But seriously guys, bad jokes aside, this is really sad. Someone up there must have it in for Berkeley representatives of the oak family, what with the stadium/tree-sitter infestation business … and now this?! Yep, oak trees are getting the shaft again, but this time it’s not the result of a petty human squabble–though we’re pretty sure that if we traced it back far enough, the pathogen outbreak plaguing oaks in Tilden Regional Park is probably the fault of mankind, somehow. Yeesh.

The pathogen’s M. O. reads like crappy sci-fi, especially the part where the afflicted oak starts to “ooze sap that resembles human blood from large cankers,” and then the tree’s leaves suddenly turn “from green to brown, immediately preceding the tree’s death.” Excuse us while we go over here and grimace disgustedly for a while. read more »

The latest happenings in the legal branch (ha) of the oak grove/athletic center saga/shit-show went a little something like this: Judge Miller reissued her “final” ruling in favor of the University on Monday. The plaintiffs (a.k.a. the tree people and friends) appealed. Again. No one was surprised.

Now, the community anxiously awaits further updates from the newest characters in this epic drama–the judges three of the appellate court. We sense a little double, double toil and trouble, if you know what we mean …

Stay tuned for more confusing legal stuff that people stopped caring about a long time ago. Is it too late to suggest using the trees as training facilities? Pull-ups, anyone?

Image Source: Skyler Reid, Daily Cal
Plaintiffs Resubmit Appeal in Athletic Center Lawsuit [Daily Cal]

Four more tree-sitters have vacated the oak grove, leaving just three sitters left.

Last night, three tree-sitters descended and the police managed to arrest one male. The others shimmied back up the trees, but the police later talked down the two, a male and a female dubbed “Olive.”

Most recently, our precious Dumpster Muffin (remember her?) came down. She indicated “that she might be suffering from an undetermined medical condition,” according to the Daily Cal. We will not … make … the … joke. We mustn’t be so mean.

Image Source: Kanaka’s Paradise Life under Creative Commons
Four More Tree-Sitters Voluntarily Vacate Oak Grove [Daily Cal]

Apparently, the east coast really is that far away. This week The New Yorker reported on the Fresh-Wheeler tree situation from a more…err…grounded perspective. Focusing on the group of students against Fresh’s tree-sit, the article spanned reactions to the event, including university police chief Victoria Harrison’s e-mail. And then there were some reactions to that.

OK, so let us clarify: Fresh > Students Against Hippies in Trees (which we thought was Students against Hippies in Trees, i.e. “SHIT”) > Harrison’s e-mail > student replies. All artfully done, mind you. This is the New Yorker, a class of writing that will make your bougie panties weep.

We wish we could have seen more replies–after all, Harrison did receive hundreds, according to the article. The New Yorker mentioned a mere pinch: read more »

600px-sad_face.gifApparently, the protester currently known as “Fresh” knows when to follow his feline instincts and scurry up into the nearest tree. It also seems that he knows when to reason like a five-year-old.

“I was planning on leaving, but the officer chased me,” he told The Daily Californian, “so I climbed up the tree.” No, we’re not talking about that big tree in front of Wheeler Hall, the one already shouldering the burden of a massive sign. We’re talking about another nearby tree. read more »

Some more sitters of the tree variety set up shop outside Wheeler Hall today, but don’t get them confused with the Oakies. The new treewoks on the block sit for student activism, namely “democratization” of the UC Regents and condemning the BP deal.

OK, fair enough. We’re still not convinced that sitting in a tree will gain anything besides extra police patrolling.

But wait! There’s more! SFist tipped us to another tree-related protest scheduled for tomorrow. Called “Toilet-Trees” (oh so clever), the protest calls out Kimberly-Clark for its clear-cutting practices in producing tissue and toilet paper. In the copy of the press release, SFist points to the claim that “there will be great visuals and photo opportunities!”

Oh shit. Take a look for yourselves:
read more »