27 January 2007

Professors to the rescue of trees

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007

Eighty years separate the two arboreal statements below. The poem (with a nod to Joyce Kilmer, W.H. Auden, Andrew Marvell, and Ogden Nash) was read by retired English professor Peter Dale Scott at the Memorial Stadium oak grove celebration last Saturday, 20 January, and again during Dona Spring’s birthday party at the Hillside Club on Tuesday, 23 January.

Call to Chancellor Birgeneau
(Peter Dale Scott)

I think that I shall never see
touchdown lovely as a tree.
It’s great to watch kids play a game
Big Money makes it not the same.
And where Big Money is the rule
A school forgets it is a school;
Till Time, indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,
Will judge those schools that went to Hell
As farm teams for the NFL,
Annihilating what we made
Of a green thought in a green shade.
The health of a society is tested
When gentle people get arrested.
Good God! I never thought to see
Poets arrested in a tree.
But, folks, if you don’t heed this call
You may not see this tree at all.

1. Joyce Kilmer: “Trees
2. W.H. Auden: “In Memory of W. B. Yeats
3. Andrew Marvell: “The Garden
4. Ogden Nash: “Song of the Open Road

The article below speaks for itself. It was published in the Oakland Tribune on 15 December 1926. The professor quoted was the great Willis Jepson, founder of the Jepson Herbarium. Jepson was a charter member of the Sierra Club and a resident of Panoramic Hill. His house, designed by Julia Morgan in 1925, overlooks Memorial Stadium. Note that eighty years ago, the leader of the committee to save the Point Lobos trees was none other than real-estate developer Duncan McDuffie, another lifelong member of the Sierra Club.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

P.S. My favorite ditty on this topic was composed by U.C. Berkeley students and chanted during a demonstration on Friday, 12 January, after campus cops staged a pre-dawn raid on the oak grove, evicting the ground support crew and confiscating their possessions:
Hey, ho, Birgeneau
You say “Chop!”
We say “No!”


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