Volume 2, Issue 2
Summer 2006

Women in Nonviolence
Letters to the Editor
Printable Version: Download as PDF 

Dear Editor,

Our group, Save the Oaks at the Stadium (SOS!), is working to convince the University of California, Berkeley to spare a healthy grove of old oak trees beside California Memorial Stadium. UC wants to cut the trees down to build an athletic training facility. The oak woodland is an irreplaceable natural resource and is appreciated by thousands of members of the campus and the community every year. Unfortunately, the trees are completely powerless to defend themselves against chainsaws. They cannot talk, cannot move, and cannot even cry out for mercy. How does one act to protect living things like this from people who have other priorities?

We have adopted the principles of peaceful protest and nonviolent social change as a guide for our efforts. We believe this has helped us gain public support faster than would otherwise have been the case, which is crucial because there is very little time left before UC Berkeley plans to cut the trees down—most likely sometime in December or early January when the majority of students are away from campus.

Our commitment to nonviolence has encouraged several important developments. First, our willingness to look at the conflict from the perspective of the other side has led us to seek and find viable alternatives to cutting the trees. Indeed, we have located several sites that would be quite suitable for the new gym that would not require the destruction of the oak grove. Second, the sincerity of our beliefs has allowed us to approach people from many different social groups, and we are pleased that we have received support from many students, athletes, faculty members, football fans, and alumni. Third, we have pursued creative methods to get public attention: puppets, costumes, rallies, ritual offerings, street theater, funny signs (like “Official Member—Berkeley Tree Sitter’s Club”), and so on.

So far, we have attained the support of the Berkeley City Council, the Sierra Club, Julia Butterfly Hill, and local luminaries like Wavy Gravy (who gave us the slogan “Don’t croak the oaks”) and award-winning satirist Stoney Burke. Please check our website to find out what you can do to help save the oaks:
www.saveoaks.com or email us at info@saveoaks.com.

Our event hotline is 510-841-3493.
Doug Buckwald


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