09 April 2007

Before we turn green, let’s cut down some trees

The last tree comes crashing down at the Oxford parking lot... and smashes a portable toilet. (photo: Foster Goldstrom, 9 April 2007)

How it used to look. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 31 January 2007)

Three days ago, the David Brower Center became international news with an Associated Press report:
Berkeley Environmental Center Named for Famed Green Leader Brower

Berkeley, Calif. (15:14 PDT) -- Renowned wilderness advocate David Brower’s legacy is set to extend into the urban landscape as construction gets under way on a $75 million downtown environmental center bearing his name.

Contractors began laying the groundwork this week for the four-story David Brower Center, slated to house eco-conscious retailers and environmental non-profits.

The building, scheduled to open in 2009, will be built with a solar-cell roof and include a restaurant with a menu conceived by Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters.

Brower saw the Sierra Club’s membership grow from 2,000 to 77,000 under his leadership during the 1950s and 1960s. He led campaigns to establish 10 new national parks and founded Friends of the Earth, an environmental activist network now operating in 70 countries.

“We are elated, and my dad would be, too,” said Ken Brower. “At the very end of his life he got wind of this, and he was thrilled.”

David Brower, a Berkeley native, died in 2000 at 88.
Meanwhile, down on the ranch, workers this morning cut down every single tree on the Oxford lot. Foster Goldstrom, who documented them in action, paraphrased our city’s namesake, George Berkeley: “If a tree falls in Berkeley and no one is present to hear it, does it make a sound?”

In his Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Berkeley concluded that it does not. Fortunately for us, there was someone there to hear, see, and report.

Good riddance. (photo: Foster Goldstrom, 9 April 2007)


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