Celebrate green times
Sustainable development, trees and eco-injustice offsetting
I guess Berkeley isn’t the free-spirited activist enclave it used to be. UC Berkeley campus police sent an arborist to dismantle ramshackle treehouses that protesters had set up to protect some 100 trees from being chopped down to make room for an athletic training center. The university let hard-core treehuggers occupy the oak grove for 14 months, but when compared to a tree’s life span, that’s not very long.
I’ve marked that down as minus-one eco-point for Ber-zer-keley. Sure, the city filed a lawsuit against the university, and, yes, maybe cutting down trees is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I still can’t help feeling like the final piece of the hippie haven’s identity crumbled the second Cal opted to fell the oaks.
Sacramento, here’s our chance to employ an act of green goodness. We’ll call it eco-injustice offsetting. Now, if only we could think of something to do.
To find an answer, I skipped a staff luncheon to meet up with a small group of people milling around near the corner of F and 15 streets in front of the recently completed 9onF development, the first LEED-certified homes in the central city. The group had some news to share: On Saturday, this corner of the historic Mansion Flats district will become the site of “From the Grass Roots to the Tree Tops: Celebrating Sacramento’s Sustainable Future,” a full-day fund-raiser to benefit the Environmental Council of Sacramento.
ECOS, Environment California, SMUD, the city of Sacramento, the local branch of the U.S. Green Building Council and Green Sacramento (an eco-friendly building supply store) will participate. Alchemist will set up an urban farm stand, selling fresh locally grown produce. The 9onF units will be open, giving visitors a look at high-efficiency living and artwork produced by artists from the Tangent Art Gallery and Short Center South Gallery.
Jeremy Drucker, 9onF’s developer, spearheaded the party planning, but not for obvious reasons. Profit? Good PR? Wrong. He’ll restrict Realtors from selling outside during the event, because “That’s obnoxious and would taint the whole thing.”
Drucker’s a cool one. He’s this dude from Muir Beach who, for whatever reason, devoted a piece of his heart to Sacramento. I like that. Plus, he wears flip-flops in February.
“For the first time, the full spectrum of sustainable-growth actors are meeting with each other and their supporters to discuss best practices and raise awareness for Sacramento’s sustainable future,” Drucker said of the event.
In other eco-news, SN&R’s green renovation of a building on Del Paso Boulevard is moving along, and by “moving along,” I mean at a snail’s pace. Our architect submitted plans to the city and construction’s tentatively scheduled to begin in May. I’m looking forward to the neighborhood tree-planting event we’ll eventually host, seeking help from the community to plant leafy shade trees in our parking lot, which will help cool our building and reduce energy use.
And speaking of woody plants, the Sacramento Tree Foundation launched efforts this week to plant 5 million trees in the region as part of its Greenprint initiative to grow urban forests. Some activities planned: Middle-school students in Folsom will plant 40 trees on campus grounds and Elk Grove residents will plant native oaks along Elk Grove Creek.
“These trees will shade community walking and biking paths, replace native trees lost to development, clean the air and provide valuable habitat,” said outreach services director Constance Crawford.
Oh, trees. Sometimes we get it right—or at least we try to offset the damage we’ve done and make it right.
Because eco-injustice happens, inevitably. And that’s the moment when you care so much about something and believe in it so deeply, but a wake-up call shakes you to the bone, and it all comes crashing down around you, and trees get felled and idealists lose the battle and a university’s football team wins out and all you want is to remember how it was before it all changed. But all you’re left with is the lingering question: What went wrong?
Poor Berkeley—it wasn’t supposed to be this way.