The Albany City Council, East Bay Regional Parks district, and the Sierra Club have all teamed up to once again try and evict the amazing community of people that live on the Bulb, walk it with their dogs, and do art at the space. On Saturday, September 28th, starting at 5pm, people will gather at the space to share food, stories, discuss how to defend the Bulb and at 8pm, Blackbird RAUM from Santa Cruz will play live!
Saturday, September 28th @ 5pm
Meet at Main Entrance of Albany Bulb
1 Buchanan Street, Off of HW 80, Buchanan Street/Albany Exit
LIVE MUSIC @ 8pm!
Gather at 5pm for potluck, food sharing, and community open mic and discussion on saving the Albany Bulb. At 8pm join us for a live concert from Santa Cruz band Blackbird RAUM! Please invite friends, print flyers, make signs and banners, and bring a food dish, story, song, speech or something else to share!
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/601550023221411/
Listen to Blackbird RAUM here: http://www.last.fm/music/Blackbird+Raum
In 1986, the Albany Landfill closed. BART construction materials, rebar, and other heavy metals and materials from local industry were buried in the ground no longer. A homeless community soon moved in, many after being evicted from People’s Park, creating an encampment on the land just a few miles outside of Berkeley. Soon after, many graffiti artists and other renegade expressionists started to use what was dubbed the “Albany Bulb,” as a playground for artwork. In 1999, the city of Albany moved to have the homeless community living on the Bulb removed. The eviction didn’t work for long, as soon after, people began moving back and the Bulb remained as popular as ever. People came to see the statues that were created out of landfill debris, just as they came to walk their dogs off leash, and to enjoy the spectacular view of the San Francisco bay area that stretched out before them. Like People’s Park, the Albany Bulb was important because it represented a space that belonged to the people; it was contested and fought over, and more importantly it was user controlled and operated, and it was beautiful. Created out of unwanted parts of this civilization, both of people and debris, nature and humanity slowly came together and took back the land, creating something wonderful for all.
The Albany Bulb continues to be self-organized and autonomous. 60-70 people live at the Bulb at any given time, and by and large they work out differences, deal with problems from those coming to party at the Bulb, and also live with constant police harassment with a government structure telling them how to exist. With the city of Albany having no homeless shelter and lack of low-income housing in Berkeley at epidemic proportions, police officers rousting those sleeping on the streets often tell people to ‘go to the Bulb.’ Thus, while the city is now trying to evict those living on the Bulb, often it was their police who told them to head towards it in the first place.
A myriad of ruling forces currently seek to end the freedom that exists on the Bulb, which is slated for eviction in October 2013. This includes both the Citizens of East Shore Parks, which includes former Albany Mayor, Robert Cheasty, and the Sierra Club. Both groups have stressed that removal of the homeless is needed to return the Bulb over the park service which can then remove the non-native plants and give the park “back the public.” Both groups have painted the homeless as having “polluted” the land, and as “privatizing” it, like the “World Bank.” The local elites speak of protecting nature and stopping people from taking space, but it is they who spread death in the natural world and suck like vampires from the poor. They talk about ‘social justice’ and ‘the earth’ while they act to destroy freedom and human lives.
The desire to evict and gentrify the Albany Bulb cannot be divorced from the wider context of the bay area. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to be pushed out from San Francisco in the next several years, mostly moving into the East Bay, displacing and removing thousands of long term residents. Many people, especially those with access to more money, will settle in the Berkeley/Albany area. Evicting the Bulb is not just about the Regional Park district expanding their territory and gaining another park, but also social cleansing of the East Bay.
Also, police agencies, which have been flooded recently by a barrage of funds by the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to deal with the Occupy Movement, are poised in Albany to take on the renegade homeless population. We have already seen the heavy handed response by local police (both Albany PD and UCB Police) to the Occupy the Farm protests, which sought to take over UC Berkeley property and farm organic food for the bay area community. Local police departments are just looking for reasons to attack an autonomous grouping of people living outside of the law.
The eviction of the Albany Bulb must not be allowed to continue. We must preserve the current autonomous zone for not only all that live there, but also all those that use it, not just as an art space, but also as a place where people come to hike, take their dogs, and simply enjoy in a free and autonomous capacity. We must stand and defend contested and self-organized space in the face of those that would take it – especially for ‘environmental’ and ‘community’ reasons. The Albany Bulb is the place where we take lovers, where we do art, where we let our dogs off leash, where we live, where we look across the ocean on a castle, and where we enjoy the naked beauty of nature, art, and human beings coexisting. But most of all, it is a place that we have watched the disgusting garbage of this civilization become the backdrop for something magnificent and amazing. It is worth fighting for and it is worth defending.