World-famous environmental heroine Julia Butterfly Hill has climbed another tree to stop a new injustice.
Julia gained global fame for living for two years in a redwood to prevent it from being chopped down. But this time, her perch is far from the quiet redwood forests of northern California. Today, she is in the middle of South Central Los Angeles.
The tree is in the middle of a huge urban farm, which feeds hundreds of urban residents and is slated to be bulldozed. And Julia is putting her body on the line, to give the community time to raise the funds to buy the land. The community needs $16M. With the help of Julia and folk singer Joan Baez, the gap has narrowed to about $4M. People who want to contribute can do so at: (http://www.southcentralfarmers.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=114&Itemid=32)
I know that some cynics will snicker and sneer. But I don't care. I am very proud of Julia.
We often criticize the eco-elite for standing aside or looking away when the urban poor are struggling for their rights. So many of us TALK about the need for progressives to get out of our single-issue silos (choice, environment, civil rights, etc.) and link arms with other struggles. But so few ever do.
Well, Julia Butterfly Hill is SHOWING the way forward for all of us with her actions. And -- in these days of oil shocks and obesity epidemics -- I can't imagine a more worthy cause than helping to ensure that urban folks can maintain a healthy connection with the land -- and guarantee their own food security.
Of course, I am not surprised that Julia has taken this stand. After her famous tree-sit (which ended in 1999), Julia moved to Oakland, California, where she has become a beloved and active resident.
In other words, though the media is just now figuring it out, Julia Butterfly long ago transformed herself from "forest goddess" to "urban heroine." I just hope the rest of us can learn to cross racial and issue divides as joyously and beautifully as she has done.
In the meantime, she and the Urban Farmers deserve our support. (Please find below the stuff I got from her colleagues at Circle Of Life, plus some news coverage.)
Julia Butterfly Is At It Again...South Central LA Tree Sit
Julia Butterfly Hill, Joan Baez, Darryl Hannah and John Quigley on the Scene in South Central LA
As many of you have already heard...she's at it again! Julia is sitting in a tree along with fellow treesitter, John Quigley and folk singer and activist superstar Joan Baez.
Read on for more info here or at www.circleoflife.org, but NOW what you can do is:
1. Go to the FARM NOW, to help keep vigil. For address and info see: www.southcentralfarmers.com.
2. Call Mayor Villaraigosa and tell him that you want the City of Los Angeles to buy the farm back from the developer and give it in perpetuity to the South Central Farmers. (213) 978-0600
3. Make a donation to the South Central Farmers (http://www.southcentralfarmers.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=114&Itemid=32) to help buy back the farm.
Julia is asking for every person to give at least $1 towards this historic farm. Together we can make the difference. Donate NOW at www.southcentralfarmers.com
Here's the story:
Just about one week ago, Julia walked into the Circle of Life office and told us that while she hoped it did not come down to the need for her to do direct action to save the South Central Farm in Los Angeles--she would be up in a tree soon if there was a need. On Tuesday, May 23 Julia stationed herself in the "community watchtower"- a 3 story high walnut tree on the 14 acre South Central Farm. She joins in solidarity with 350 poor working class families who use the farm to grow organic food for themselves and their community.
Fourteen years ago, this spot was a wasteland- and in the wake of the 1992 LA uprising then-Mayor Bradley and Doris Block of the L.A. Regional Food Bank made a handshake deal to allow it to be used for a community farm. Today, after thousands and thousands of hours of sweat and labor, the South Central Farm is the largest urban farm in the nation. The 350 families who use the farming plots are low‑income and depend heavily upon the food they grow to feed themselves. In addition to growing food for themselves, the people involved with the community garden hold Farmers' Markets, festivals and other cultural events for the public at large.
In a backroom deal in 1996, the 14 acre farm was offered to a developer at a discount, but the deal was never approved by the City Council. In 2002, the developers sued the City and a settlement was reached giving the farm to the developers for a significantly below-market price. To repurchase the farm, the developer is insisting on over $16 million (they paid just over $5 million for it four years ago) and $6 million has already been raised by the South Central Farmers. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has the ability to pay the rest of selling price from the City budget, or further challenge the original sale. However, he has done neither.
"This is the Promised Land", community leader Dele Ailemen emphatically stated on the encampment's first day. "It was land that was promised to this community by the Mayor of Los Angeles after the 1992 uprising." "It will not be taken away by broken political promises."
Joan Baez, 'Butterfly' Hill occupy tree to help save farm
USA TODAY Posted 5/24/2006 11:03 AM ET
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Joan Baez and tree-sitter Julia "Butterfly" Hill have taken up residence in a tree to raise awareness about a 14-acre urban farm threatened with demolition.
Hill, who lived in a redwood in Northern California for more than two years to prevent loggers from cutting it down, said Tuesday that she and Baez will be among those who will occupy the tree in shifts.
The 65-year-old folk singer's hits include The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Please Come to Boston.
Two door-sized platforms have been placed in the tree for the sitters, and a support group has set up an encampment on the ground.
Hundreds of farmers could face evictions after The Trust for Public Land came up $10 million short in its bid to buy the site. The non-profit group was not able to raise the $16.35 million required by the time the purchase option expired Monday.
The trust signed a contract in April with landowner Ralph Horowitz to buy 10 of the 14 acres in south Los Angeles where about 350 families, most of them working-class immigrants from Central America, tend small plots of fruits and vegetables.
Hill said she was protesting now because Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has pledged support for the farmers but has not come through yet.
Villaraigosa's spokesman did not immediately return a message left after business hours Tuesday.
Deputy Mayor Larry Frank has said the city was trying to help the farmers move to other sites, including an 8-acre plot that can accommodate 200 of them.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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