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New UC Statement: University to Plan Research, Urban Farming at Gill Tract

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The University of California at Berkeley released a new statement at 12:39 p.m. Friday about activities at the Gill Tract. It has been reprinted below in full after a short summary. (See all our past coverage here.)

According to the statement, signed by George Breslauer, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, and John Wilton Vice Chancellor of administration and finance, a planning meeting has been set for Saturday morning to "tackle the details of how the Gill Tract will be shared by our researchers and urban agriculture, and how the effort will be supported, coordinated and sustained under the university’s supervision."

The meeting agenda was developed along with the city of Albany, and the talk will include appointed city officials, members of the Albany community identified by the city manager’s office, residents of University Village and UC Berkeley faculty members and students.

According to the statement, two seats at the table have been reserved for members of Occupy the Farm: "In order to take their seat at the table, all they need to do by Saturday at 10:00am is pack up the encampment, leave our property and join a discussion that will advance one of their key goals."

The university statement continues that, if members of Occupy the Farm "leave peacefully and do not attempt to re-occupy" the area, "we will also cease to pursue criminal prosecution and/or civil litigation against the occupiers."

Occupiers said they have no intention of leaving by Saturday and have numerous scheduled events through the weekend, including Mother's Day celebrations.

"If we walk away, then we can have two people participate in some meeting that they've created that's not public," Gopal Dayaneni said this afternoon. "It doesn't seem like the open, public, transparent process that we've been trying to cultivate."

The demonstrators have, however, cleared their gear and equipment from the space on the parcel's north side that researchers need to proceed with their work, Dayaneni said.

"Really, the university is in the way of the researchers coming in at this point," he said.

A college representative spoke with protesters today about the university's planned meeting, although Dayaneni said they "more or less" heard about their plans through the media.

The occupiers say they will not back down until the university agrees to allow them to co-exist with the researchers, grant them continued access to the plot and pursue a public dialog about the land's future.

MORE FROM THE STATEMENT

The university also included in its statement a "promise to our neighbors" to "work with city officials and community leaders to ensure there is every opportunity for public input, questions and comments."

Members of the public can reach the university with feedback by emailing gilltract@berkeley.edu.

The university also notes that, despite their disagreement with the tactics used by Occupy the Farm, "their actions helped to raise the public profile of urban agriculture and generate constructive conversation about its value."

The College of Natural Resources, according to the latest statement, was already, "in an advanced stage of planning for an expanded urban agriculture program and the discussion has sharpened the college’s focus on getting the program underway."

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we publish future stories on this topic. Read more on Albany Patch about the Gill Tract occupation

Bay City News contributed to this report. 

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

***

Talks planned on shared use of Gill Tract

By Public Affairs, UC Berkeley | May 11, 2012

On May 11 the UC Berkeley administration released the following statement concerning the Gill Tract:

After weeks of patient dialogue and rejected proposals for a peaceful resolution of the occupation, UC Berkeley will be taking the steps necessary for research to commence, and urban agriculture to continue on the Gill Tract.

On Saturday morning the dean of our College of Natural Resources, Keith Gilless, will lead a planning meeting that will tackle the details of how the Gill Tract will be shared by our researchers and urban agriculture, and how the effort will be supported, coordinated and sustained under the university’s supervision. The meeting and its agenda were developed in collaboration with the City of Albany, and participants will include appointed city officials, members of the Albany community identified by the city manager’s office, residents of University Village and UC Berkeley faculty members and students.

We are also reserving two seats at the table for representatives of the group that is still occupying our property. They have claimed that they do not want to interfere with our research and seek only to support urban agriculture. If that’s the case, we are hard-pressed to understand why the occupation needs to continue, given the fact that we are now moving forward with plans to have a portion of the land used for urban agriculture. In order to take their seat at the table, all they need to do by Saturday at 10 a.m. is pack up the encampment, leave our property and join a discussion that will advance one of their key goals. If they leave peacefully and do not attempt to re-occupy University property, we will also cease to pursue criminal prosecution and/or civil litigation against the occupiers. If, however, they elect to continue preventing us from regaining complete control and supervision of our property, planning for shared use will continue in their absence. And, if they refuse to depart, we will also take the unilateral steps necessary to protect the academic freedom of our faculty to pursue their interests without interference. The research work must begin in a very few days and our commitment to act in its support is firm and non-negotiable.

We also want to assure the entire Albany community that we have no intention of retreating from the open and transparent collaboration that has characterized the planning process for the long-term future of the Gill Tract and the adjacent parcels of land. We fully support the sentiments expressed in a recent op-ed from an Albany resident who condemned “the tactics taken by the Gill Tract occupiers, who have ignored due democratic process and… ignored years of arbitration between the university, University Village, the city of Albany, and Bay Area environmental groups.”

We promise to keep our neighbors fully updated on the planning for a continuation of urban agriculture, will work with city officials and community leaders to ensure there is every opportunity for public input, questions and comments. We will also do everything in our power to ensure there is ample opportunity for the broadest possible public participation in the urban agriculture endeavor, as well as any discussions about long-term plans for the land. We will also everything necessary to ensure that the ongoing operations at the Gill Tract remain under university supervision and are conducted in a manner that is respectful of the interests and needs of our neighbors. In support of those goals the College of Natural Resources has established an email address to allow our neighbors to weigh in, request information and have their voices heard.

As much as we abhor the tactics embraced by the occupiers, we acknowledge that their actions helped to raise the public profile of urban agriculture and generate constructive conversation about its value. Our College of Natural Resources was, prior to the occupation, already in an advanced stage of planning for an expanded urban agriculture program and the discussion has sharpened the college’s focus on getting the program underway. So, we urge the occupiers to take ”yes” for an answer, leave our property, allow the research to commence and have a seat at the table. We are moving on and can only hope they will quickly decide to choose collaboration over confrontation.

This statement, like every previous message, is the result of a careful, broad-based decision-making process that includes senior administration leaders, the chair of our Academic Senate and other members of faculty, the deans of the College of Natural Resources and the Graduate Division, UCPD, Student Affairs and Community Relations.

George Breslauer
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

John Wilton
Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance

Peggy McQuaid May 13, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Interesting note about the photo on this story.The photos of the Gill House and Haying on the GIll Tract are property of the Albany Library. I do not see any mention that they have been used with the permission of the library. Should I be surprised?
Kirsten Schwartz May 13, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Dover, on the Occupy the Farm Agrees article, I posted some information that Jonathan Swift had posted on another thread, connecting Arwen here to someone named Mary Ann Uribe. I'm waiting for Arwen to confirm or deny on those two threads, but she seems to be leaving them alone. Maybe here she'll come forth from behind the veil of Middle Earth. Tolkien. Now THERE was an academic. Perfect grammar and usage. Sigh.
Kirsten Schwartz May 13, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Arwen: I'm still waiting. Are you really Mary Ann Uribe? If not, who are you? You are under no legal obligation to tell us, but because of your continued posting--some of it nasty (it's good the Patch removed your speculation about me being Kirsten Fisher because Ms. Fisher may have had a good libel lawsuit there)--your continued posting telling us in Albany what to do is (1) continued and (2) very strong and assertive. Who are you? Okay, not (1) continued, because on the three threads, okay maybe 2, where I've posted this request, you've stopped posting.
lubov mazur May 13, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I heard the same radio program. It wasn't "Sociopaths" it was "Psychopaths".
Dover May 14, 2012 at 02:15 PM
It's been confirmed. The reason she is not confirming it directly is because she knows that by admitting the truth, she will also be admitting the lies.

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