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UCSC Earth Summit - A Crack in the Facade
by Bicicleta Bandito
Friday Feb 1st, 2008 12:23 PM
As tempting as it would be to say the time spent attending UCSC’s 7th Annual Campus Earth Summit would have been better spent napping in a redwood grove or bird watching, this simply wouldn’t be fair. There were after all, some worthwhile highlights of the day including the adjective-loaded “Delicious, organic, locally produced lunch” and the unspoken but palpable tension between the mainstream environmentalists who put the summit on, and the more radical eco folks who showed up.
Campus Earth Summit vs. Long Range Resistance

As tempting as it would be to say the time spent attending UCSC’s 7th Annual Campus Earth Summit would have been better spent napping in a redwood grove or bird watching, this simply wouldn’t be fair. There were after all, some worthwhile highlights of the day including the adjective-loaded “Delicious, organic, locally produced lunch” and the unspoken but palpable tension between the mainstream environmentalists who put the summit on, and the more radical eco folks who showed up.

The situation came to a head early in the day when Chancellor Blumenthal, the man with a mustache and a million dollar smile, received a barrage of boos and hisses from the crowd as he attempted to give his boiler plate, “UCSC is the greenest campus around says I, king me!” speech. This scene was punctuated by one heckler who was grabbed by what appeared to be a police officer posing as a photographer, only to be thwarted by the heckler who broke free and skipped out the emergency exit, leaving Blumenthal to finish reading his speech with an alarm blaring, eyes down.

If there were any satirical newspapers in town, the headlines would read today, “Green Anarchists Assault Chancellor Blumenthal with Boos, Heckles.”

During all this commotion, the look of horror on the faces of the event volunteers and organizers sent me back 10 years when liberal “environmentalists” set their non-violent principles aside to bravely defend Starbucks and other corporate chain stores from the wrath of the Black Bloc’s bricks and hammers during the Seattle WTO protests. Perhaps James Taylor was referring to the relationship between diet-cola environmentalists and authority when he sang, “you just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running…you got a friend.”

But police officers (FBI agents?) posing as cameramen were just the tip of the iceberg. For possibly the first time, UCSC’s façade of groovy-environmental-unity began to show cracks as dissent over the Long Range Development Plan echoed throughout the day. That the administrators take this threat to the status quo seriously could easily be seen in the plain clothed police officers who stood in the background, carefully eyeing every guy with a beard and a tattered black t-shirt, throughout the 2.5 hours of introduction speeches. This is to say nothing of UCSC’s top 3 little Eichmanns of Student Affairs, Alma C. Fuentes, Adam Snook (a.k.a. El Gordo con a backpack full of surveillance goodies), and Felicia McGinty, who skulked about, whispering sweet “recognize him?” into the ears of their pepper-spray wielding goons and fellow administrators.

If there were any astute visitors from a foreign country in the crowd that day, they would have quickly deduced that the United States is more of a police state than most Americans care to recognize.

Aside from former state assembly representative Fred Keeley, who smartly avoided a repeat of Blumenthal’s fiasco by not taking any questions (contrary to what was stated on the program), the speakers were about as compelling as televised golf. Much of it consisted of patting themselves on the back for forming committees to do studies to assess the feasibility to research blah blah blah. It’s easy to picture these folks speaking more fondly of words like “co-chair,” “coordinator” and “task force” than “honey bee,” “dandelion,” and “sacred earth.”

And though they weren’t allowed any time to offer a rebuttal to the “productive dialogue about tangible ways sustainability can be incorporated into every aspect of campus life” (as stated on page 2 of the 12 page program), the coalition to resist the Long Range Development Plan was generously allowed a table space in the corner at the far end of the room.

Had there been any former boxers present who’d ever suffered the humiliation of waiting indefinitely for the bell to ring from an opponent too cowardly to show up, surely the aforementioned scene would have brought a tear to their eye.

As the morning speeches drew to a close and we were directed to partake in the specially prepared organic, locally produced lunch (it was pretty good) it finally dawned on me why my bullshit detector was beeping uncontrollably: The language. The language wasn’t conveying anything meaningful.

Instead of challenging the power structure that enables one group of people to assault another for doing something as benign as climbing a tree, the speakers offered euphemisms about technological solutions, progress, leadership, efficiency, and investment. To them, it would be perfectly fine to erect an office/research building over a redwood grove, where human beings will toil for 8-10 hours a day under artificial light as long as the light is provided by solar panels.

To that end, not once did I hear any of the following words during the morning’s speeches: Private property, exploitation, class struggle, alienation, capitalism, mental environment, hierarchy, industrialization, panopticon, healing, materialism, patriarchy, ecology, domination, equality, liberation, control.

It would almost seem that for all their stated intentions of saving this beautiful planet, the summit organizers were simply incapable of stepping outside their Eurocentric conception of nature as a resource to be managed, sculpted, and quantified. To them, the environment is something that exists apart from their own bodies and minds, a place to visit occasionally, on weekends.

If anyone had suggested that perhaps what we really need is to spend less time working for wages so we can purchase a mouse pad made from recycled tires and more time nurturing relationships, star gazing, gardening and cooking communal meals, I surely didn’t hear it.

As for the LRDP resistance folks, they got their point across – We’ve been arrested, pepper sprayed, profiled, sued, but we are not going away. Our ideas are more powerful than your bureaucratic machinery. Now put that in your file Alma C. Fuentes
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
I guess we'll disagreeAnother UC StaffFriday Feb 8th, 2008 5:47 PM
You May Already Be An AnarchistCrimethIncFriday Feb 8th, 2008 3:12 PM
Violence: semantic shizzleUC StaffFriday Feb 8th, 2008 2:59 PM
You assume incorrectly; I was there.Another UC StaffFriday Feb 8th, 2008 9:36 AM
quiet, too quietUC StaffFriday Feb 8th, 2008 12:28 AM
I guess "UC Staff" is still chewing on that sh*twich it prepared for itself?Got sorta quiet once facts came into play.Thursday Feb 7th, 2008 7:28 PM
Pope / Drug CzarG-UnitTuesday Feb 5th, 2008 12:33 AM
Notes From Underground A World Spinning AroundVertigoMonday Feb 4th, 2008 9:10 PM
Answers to your questions 1-6.Another UC StaffMonday Feb 4th, 2008 8:58 AM
Who is truly guilty of violence???observerMonday Feb 4th, 2008 1:50 AM

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