The Debate in the Woods

“The Debate in the Woods” was between Jack Gescheidt of The Tree Spirit Project vs Bob Strayer of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy. The monitor was Bill Lazarus.

Debate-in-the-Woods-of-Claremont-Canyon_Jack-Gescheidt_Bob-Stray 012

East Bay Area Woods and Nature Preservation Activists gathered in Claremont Canyon Preserve on July 24, 2016 to hear Jack Gescheidt of The Tree Spirit Project (center) versus Bob Strayer of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy (right).

The debate was friendly and respectful. It covered numerous issues related to the plan created by UC Berkeley, City of Oakland, and the East Bay Regional Parks, and the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) to cut several hundred thousand trees, to spray herbicide to prevent re-growth, and to create grasslands instead of re-planting other trees. The Hills Conservation Network, a coalition of a number of civic groups, has filed a law suit to stop the plan. This debate was a reflection of two persons with different philosophies and understandings about the impact of the plan on the living creatures and plants, as well as the soil and the watershed of the San Francisco Bay Area.

 Click on the photo below to watch the video of “The Debate in the Woods”.The-Debate-in-the-Woods_Title-Page-Vic-Sadot-screenshot

The TreeSpirit Project is an environmental art project devoted to raising awareness of the crucial role trees and forests in our lives, both globally and also personally. The global and the personal are inextricably linked. TreeSpirit’s centerpiece is the world’s largest collection of photographs of naked, vulnerable humans communing with trees, created by Founder and photographer Jack Gescheidt with hundreds of volunteer participants.  All are tree and nature lovers who want to attract public and media attention to how much we need forests to mitigate climate change — and to touch our souls. Click on the photo below to watch a short video titled “The Forest and the Sea of Stumps”, an excellent review of the alarming plans to cut over 400,000 trees in the Bay Area Hills (7:44) Published on June 3, 2016 at Magmalavas YouTube Channel. A Film by Doug Prose; Music by Machinimasound & Joe Hartnett. Now in “The Politics of Trees & The Preservation of Natural Areas” playlist at SOCIAL JUSTICE IN THE HEART OF BERKELEY YouTube Channel.

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Bob Strayer, Board Member of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy. The Claremont Canyon Conservancy provides stewardship and educational programs to its members and the public regarding the 500-acre, mostly wild land, Claremont Canyon at the Oakland/Berkeley border in Northern California. Address: Claremont Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705; Phone: (888) 327-2757.

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Photo by Vic Sadot taken on May 17, 2016 while hiking up a Claremont Canyon trail.

Hills Conservation Network

Stop the Deforestation of the Berkeley/Oakland Hills! UC and the City of Oakland plan to use federal disaster mitigation funds to clear-cut ALL of its tall trees in the hills. They are targeting eucalyptus, pines, and acacia for complete eradication, not because of a fire risk, but instead to clear the land for facilities expansion and to continue to allow UC to avoid spending its own money to maintain its wild land properties. They have dismissed proposed “species neutral” fire mitigation strategies that would be cheaper, would use far fewer herbicides, and would be far more effective in lessening fire risk because such strategies wouldn’t accomplish this hidden agenda. inquiries@hillsconservationnetwork.org

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Click on the photo to read Dan Grassetti’s article on the cutting of these trees by UC Berkeley before the release of the environmental impact study in August 2014. The Hills Conservation Network has filed a lawsuit to stop the clear-cutting of trees under the notion that they are an “invasive species” and need to be eliminated by a chemical war on them. Dan Grassetti is the founder of the Hills Conservation Network.

Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve sign

The Hills Conservation Network (HCN) filed suit to prevent the funding and implementation of these projects on March 6, 2015.  Below is the press release announcing HCN’s suit.  Please contact the Hills Conservation Network if you wish to contribute to the cost of this suit:    http://www.hillsconservationnetwork.org/HillsConservation3/Blog/Blog.html

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Ordinary, extraordinary people, all volunteers, from all walks of life,  bare themselves to boldly, playfully, feel connected again: to trees, to others, to themselves. In this case, the people gathered to defend a stand of Eucalyptus trees on the UC Berkeley campus. Click on the photo above to watch a video in which Jack Gescheidt explains the philosophy and strategy of the artistic activism of The Tree Spirit Project, a celebration of our interdependence with nature.

 

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Québec – California Solidarity Shines in Richmond

Group photo outside the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center in Richmond after the gathering organized by the Sunflower Alliance. "Stopping Fossil Fuel Disaster! - Starting Fossil Free Solutions!" From Lac-Mégantic, Québec to Richmond, California! SATURDAY, March 1, 2o14 at Bobby Bowens  Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald Ave, Richmond CA

Group photo outside the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center in Richmond after the gathering organized by the Sunflower Alliance. “Stopping Fossil Fuel Disaster! – Starting Fossil Free Solutions!” From Lac-Mégantic, Québec to Richmond, California! SATURDAY, March 1, 2o14 at Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald Ave, Richmond CA. Photo by Brooke Anderson. Hit the photo to see her Facebook page: “Stills of Our Stories & Struggles”

A devastating and tragic oil train derailment, explosions, and intense raging fires came crashing into the little town of Lac-Mégantic, Québec, Canada on the night of July 6, 2013. In the aftermath, citizens from the town began to find their collective voice and to organize themselves. One of them spoke in Richmond to a large crowd at the Barry Bowers Center in Richmond, CA on March 1, 2014.

A train rolling throught lovely downtown Lac-Megantic sometime before the oil train derailment, explosions and fires of July 6, 2013. Photo Montreal CTV News

A train rolling throught lovely downtown Lac-Megantic sometime before the oil train derailment, explosions and fires of July 6, 2013. Photo Montreal CTV News

Marilaine Savard told the story and showed photos from her home town tragedy. An unattended 74-car freight train transporting the most volatile of crude oil was parked at night on a steep incline a few miles from town. Somehow the train’s brakes failed and it ran away and picked up speed until it derailed as it took a curve in the center of the quaint little town located in the Eastern Townships of the Canadian province of Quebec. It’s very close to the border of Maine and next to a beautiful lake also named Lac-Mégantic. The train derailed, resulting in such intense fires and explosions of multiple tank cars that it killed 47 people who were “vaporized”. More than 30 buildings in the town’s center were destroyed turning the quaint Québec town into an inferno and into a wasteland. See the photo from before above and the photo after below.

The Sainte-Agnès Catholic Church stands unscathed next to the derailment and blast site in Lac-Megantic, Quebec on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Pope Francis on Tuesday extended an apostolic blessing to victims, families and everyone affected by the tragedy. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot)

The Sainte-Agnès Catholic Church stands unscathed next to the derailment and blast site in Lac-Megantic, Quebec on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Pope Francis on Tuesday extended an apostolic blessing to victims, families and everyone affected by the tragedy. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot)

Such was the story told by a young mother named Marilaine Savard from Lac-Mégantic, who fate cast as the spokesperson for the people of the town’s effort to respond to Big Oil and it’s conduct of criminal neglect and irresponsibility. Marilaine Savard was emotionally distraught at times. Yet she was stalwart and inspired by the outpouring of good will and “Solidarity” that she received from her new-found friends in the Chevron Oil Refinery town of Richmond, California. If any California town can feel for Lac-Mégantic it would be Richmond, which has suffered the effects of the huge oil refinery in its midst. 

Marilaine Savard, Baraka, and Pennie Opal Plant relax after the inspiring gathering in Richmond. Photo by Vic Sadot

Marilaine Savard, Baraka, and Pennie Opal Plant relax after the inspiring gathering in Richmond. Photo by Vic Sadot

Marilaine Savard, spokesperson for the Citizens Committee of Lac-Mégantic, Québec, was in the San Francisco Bay area for about a week of local speaking and organizing for alternatives to the fossil-fuel industry as well as to tell the story of her community. Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin gave a fiery speech and read a formal Solidarity Proclamation from the City of Oakland to the city of Lac-Mégantic. 

Richmond, CA Mayor Gail  McLaughlin and City Council member Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles read and present the Proclamation of Solidarity to Marilaine Savard on behalf of their respective communities. Photo by Vic Sadot

Richmond, CA Mayor Gail McLaughlin and City Council member Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles read and present the Proclamation of Solidarity to Marilaine Savard on behalf of their respective communities. Photo by Vic Sadot

Mayor McLaughlin is part of the Richmond Progressive Alliance which has transformed Richmond from an oil “company town” to a leading city standing up to Wall St bank foreclosures and Chevron corruption and pollution. Her second term as mayor is currently dealing with the aftermath of the damages for the August 6, 2013 Chevron refinery explosion and fire that resulted in 15,000 going to the hospital.

Photo by David Charron in Maclean's Canadian National Weekly

Photo by David Charron in Maclean’s Canadian National Weekly

Also speaking: Antonia Juhasz, leading oil industry expert, policy-analyst, award winning journalist, and author of three books: including ‘The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry and What We Must do to Stop It.’  George Monterrey, a grassroots community leader of the Pittsburg Ethics Council, which is fighting the Wespac crude mega-transfer-storage facility in Pittsburg, CA to supply expanding Bay Area refineries with fracked and tar sands crude oil by rail, pipeline and tanker. Pennie Opal Plant, Idle No More SF Bay Solidarity, from Richmond, CA “Idle No More calls on all people to join in a peaceful revolution, to honor Indigenous sovereignty, and to protect the land and water”. The MC was Andres Soto, KPFA’s Morning Mix host, writer at Richmond Confidetial, and Communities for a Better Environment Richmond organizer. David Solnit of Arts for Change talked about how some discussions months ago led to these connections with newly activated people in Québec.

The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson & Montreal CTV News Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Fires & Explosions Disaster 07-06-13

The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson & Montreal CTV News Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Fires & Explosions Disaster 07-06-13

Publicity for the event stated that “Fossil Fuels are a disaster, from fracking and tar sands extraction to transport in rail cars, pipelines and tankers; to refining; to burning; to climate change-caused drought, heatwaves, fires, floods, and super-storms that are wrecking our communities and planet”. The panel addressed questions related to this theme: “How can we move from “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) to “Not On Planet Earth” (NOPE)? How can we STOP fossil fuel disasters and START fossil-fuel free solutions?”

LacMegantic wide angle photo Montreal CTV News Oil Train Fires & Explosions Disaster 07-06-13

Lac-Mégantic wide angle photo Montreal CTV News Oil Train Fires & Explosions Disaster 07-06-13

Sponsored by Sunflower Alliance. Cosponsored by Richmond Progressive Alliance, Bay Area 350.org, and Communities for a Better Environment.

The Facebook event page was titled “Stopping Fossil Fuel Disaster–Starting Fossil Free Solutions” From Lac-Mégantic to Pittsburg to Richmond, CA. How do we create connectedness and solidartity and an end to the attitude of “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) to a wiser and more engaging attitude of “Not On Planet Earth” (NOPE). A lively teach-in it was! 

A gathering earlier in the week when the Solidarity Banner was unfurled. People signed their names and short statements on the banner to be taken back to Québec. I wrote "Bon Courage!"

A gathering earlier in the week when the Solidarity Banner was unfurled. People signed their names and short statements on the banner to be taken back to Québec. I wrote “Bon Courage!