Some advice for the Berkeley tree sitters

Patrick Mattimore
The Branch Berkeleyan sect has been ordered out of their tree huts by an Alameda County judge.  One hugger fell a week ago, breaking both a wrist and an ankle.  Two sitter groupies and a tree denizen were arrested Thursday for attacking the police.

The forest folks have been tree-bound since last December but it looks as if their playing days as Robin Hood's merry lads and lasses are about to end, so let's play Monday morning quarterback as to what the forest people could have done differently. (For background on the genesis of this, only in Berkeley, California weirdness, see a recent Los Angeles Times news story, which is also enlightening as to why this situation is unique to a city that is far left even by leftist standards

This was a winnable campaign in need of some serious public relations work.  The San Francisco Chronicle reported, for instance, that the "[T]ree-sitters and their supporters could not be reached for comment" (about the judge's ruling). The nesters needed a spokesperson -- Johnny Appleseed or somebody.

Where was the catchy campaign slogan? Arbor Power! Free the Tree ten, or fifty, or whatever. The group could have used a travelling tree team as well. They could have contacted Stanford and gotten last year's inebriated mascot -- The Tree -- who was fired from her post after she was observed drinking from a flask inside her tree suit at a Stanford-Cal Basketball game.

The Oak Grovers failed to capitalize on some natural advantages as well. The would-be Tarzans and Janes are protesting the razing of a couple dozen trees to make room for a new athletic training center.  You have to wonder why the tree people didn't promote tree tours and discount seating for Cal's home games in addition to trumpeting the many benefits of the current football stadium.

A little creative brainstorming could have devised some ways to gain favorable publicity from the recent Southern California fires.

Smokey the Bear was probably otherwise committed, but it's hard to believe someone didn't come up with some cute protected species to serve as animal spokesperson for the group... Bambi, Tigger, the Lorax, anybody.  And where were the lovable cuddly animal posters?

Speaking of protected and endangered species... Why weren't some animals brought in to nest with the humans? It's one thing to make fun of people who spend eleven months in a tree without bathing. But no one would dare disparage owls and sparrows.

As with many campaigns, the tree standing movement could have benefitted from spreading its roots a bit. If the arborians had been able to convince folks that chopping down trees was just one step on the University's march to say, ban lattes in designated campus areas or require kids to attend classes, the sympathetic fallout would have been phenomenal.

No use dwelling on what might have been though. It's time to think prospectively. This would be a good time to line up the t-shirt concession with pictures of the trees, tree people, empty spaces, chain saws, etc. It might also make a nice photo op for one of those Tiananmen Square-type pictures with someone lying down in front of the bulldozers.

It would be possible as well to get the inevitable nostalgia days naming rights and tie it in with  the high hippie days from the 1960s. There has to be a best seller and movie here somewhere.

And in dedication... A Poem Lovely as a Tree by Joyce Kilmer (slightly paraphrased):
I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

But perhaps in days ahead

A new football stadium instead.


The Branch Berkeleyan sect has been ordered out of their tree huts by an Alameda County judge.  One hugger fell a week ago, breaking both a wrist and an ankle.  Two sitter groupies and a tree denizen were arrested Thursday for attacking the police.

The forest folks have been tree-bound since last December but it looks as if their playing days as Robin Hood's merry lads and lasses are about to end, so let's play Monday morning quarterback as to what the forest people could have done differently. (For background on the genesis of this, only in Berkeley, California weirdness, see a recent Los Angeles Times news story, which is also enlightening as to why this situation is unique to a city that is far left even by leftist standards

This was a winnable campaign in need of some serious public relations work.  The San Francisco Chronicle reported, for instance, that the "[T]ree-sitters and their supporters could not be reached for comment" (about the judge's ruling). The nesters needed a spokesperson -- Johnny Appleseed or somebody.

Where was the catchy campaign slogan? Arbor Power! Free the Tree ten, or fifty, or whatever. The group could have used a travelling tree team as well. They could have contacted Stanford and gotten last year's inebriated mascot -- The Tree -- who was fired from her post after she was observed drinking from a flask inside her tree suit at a Stanford-Cal Basketball game.

The Oak Grovers failed to capitalize on some natural advantages as well. The would-be Tarzans and Janes are protesting the razing of a couple dozen trees to make room for a new athletic training center.  You have to wonder why the tree people didn't promote tree tours and discount seating for Cal's home games in addition to trumpeting the many benefits of the current football stadium.

A little creative brainstorming could have devised some ways to gain favorable publicity from the recent Southern California fires.

Smokey the Bear was probably otherwise committed, but it's hard to believe someone didn't come up with some cute protected species to serve as animal spokesperson for the group... Bambi, Tigger, the Lorax, anybody.  And where were the lovable cuddly animal posters?

Speaking of protected and endangered species... Why weren't some animals brought in to nest with the humans? It's one thing to make fun of people who spend eleven months in a tree without bathing. But no one would dare disparage owls and sparrows.

As with many campaigns, the tree standing movement could have benefitted from spreading its roots a bit. If the arborians had been able to convince folks that chopping down trees was just one step on the University's march to say, ban lattes in designated campus areas or require kids to attend classes, the sympathetic fallout would have been phenomenal.

No use dwelling on what might have been though. It's time to think prospectively. This would be a good time to line up the t-shirt concession with pictures of the trees, tree people, empty spaces, chain saws, etc. It might also make a nice photo op for one of those Tiananmen Square-type pictures with someone lying down in front of the bulldozers.

It would be possible as well to get the inevitable nostalgia days naming rights and tie it in with  the high hippie days from the 1960s. There has to be a best seller and movie here somewhere.

And in dedication... A Poem Lovely as a Tree by Joyce Kilmer (slightly paraphrased):
I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

But perhaps in days ahead

A new football stadium instead.