One Victory, Five Years Later
Does activism ever work?
This question is on a lot of people's minds right now. But, this past week-end, April 22, 2017 marked the Fifth Anniversary of Occupy The Farm. On that day five years ago a band of 200 urban farmers walked onto a publicly owned research farm and planted two acres of crops in order to save the land from being turned into a real-estate development. And now, five years later, despite wide spread pessimism at the time, most of that land still grows crops and now boasts a community farm providing low-cost/no-cost food to one and all. This non-violent, direct action made a reality of what they wanted to see happen. This year 600 people attended an afternoon 5th anniversary celebration at the farm, on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay.
Occupy The Farm was a much smaller fight than say Standing Rock, and it happened in a blue state. But, it employed strategies and tactics that are worth noting. it did manage to embarrass a powerful institution because it had failed to observe the Act of Congress that created this institution - the University of California at Berkeley. That managed to emboldened enough members of that institution, and put enough of the pieces into play and that it actually caused the institution to follow the law. The urban farmers also had a vision of how this piece of public land should be utilized. "Farm land is for farming and that is what we're gong to do."
The trailer included here is for "Occupy The Farm", a feature documentary about the three week occupation, and the ensuing two year battle. The film is now available on iTunes, Amazon and other streaming services. (Please visit www.OccupyTheFarmFilm.com for all the links)
This year's anniversary of Occupy The Farm seems to come at a critical moment. When it comes to the environment, or to anything to do with environmental justice, the despair on the left and the glee on the right is not imaginary. There was a huge turn out for the Science March world wide, but the next day, the San Francisco Chronicle's head line was "Trump Gains, Science Loses". The article then details the biggest, most extensive cuts to science and the environment in the federal government in five decades, including reversals that resurrected both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline.
So, while despair hovers on the horizon for millions of people at this moment, the fifth anniversary of Occupy The Farm, perhaps offers an opportunity to take a deep breath and reflect on a smaller, but significant and hard fought victory of hope.