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Loss of the Urban Farm in South Central

  • Subject: [cg] Loss of the Urban Farm in South Central
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 10:45:18 -0700 (PDT)

David, Adam and list,

I'm very sorry to hear about the situation in Los
Angeles. Anglo TV and news here have largely ignored
it (as well as ignored the World Cup - Go Togo!), but
Univision gave quite good coverage to the garden
eviction. Nasty scene. As a kid who spent my
adolescence in Los Angeles's West Valley, it reminded
me of the ethnic cleansing of Chavez Ravine long ago,
to make way for a ballpark.

In a city crying out for greenspace and social
justice, this is such a destructive and dysfunctional
act. What horrific lack of leadership and political
will could have caused this? And what lack of
transparency in government and lack of sensible
policy?

I see the same patterns here in Charlotte, where - to
site but one example - a big junk yard was snuck into
an environmentally sensitive wetlands near the
university by a 'progressive' politician working
behind the scenes with a wealthy individual with
inside connections. We won't be voting and walking
precincts again for 'Mr. Progressive', who never
bothered to pick up a phone to call local community
leaders.

Across North America, we need policy that places
democracy, the social health of communities, and
environmental sustainability above the arbitrary power
of developers and large absentee landowners (many now
corporations, not individuals) to profiteer from their
ability to work the system, and to cushion
neighborhoods and citizens from the utterly irrational
and often destructive behavior of the market (even the
Trinity (Holy Ghost? forgive me, but gimme a break...)
makes more sense to me than the notion of some
all-wise "invisible hand").

But all this blabbing doesn't make the sad news from
Los Angeles any easier to witness.

As Joe Hill once said, "Don't mourn. Organize."

And it isn't a bad moment to remind ourselves that
community gardening is about a lot more than growing
tomatoes, and recall Honigman's Law: Community
Gardening is 50% gardening, and 100% grassroots
political organizing.

In solidarity with the community gardeners of Los
Angeles,

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte, NC

>>>

David's post, via Adam

Adam - thanks for putting up my last post - I don't
know why it didnt' 
go
through with our your help, but I am grateful you
stepped up to the 
plate.
I'm at work now, and I don't have access to my cg list
email account - 
would
you do me the favor of posting this as well?  I won't
be doing this on 
a
regular basis I assure you.  I'm just feeling shell
shocked today.  It 
is a
very sad day indeed.

I have been to South Central Farms and stood on the
street in protest, 
looking
across two lines of police to the Farm where LA County
Sheriffs removed 
those
who were in the farm when the eviction started at 5:00
a.m. b I felt 
too
impotent.  When reinforcements arrived and they began
to strap on their 
riot
helmets, I excused myself.

We had already lost and that was plentifully apparent
to me.  We lost 
and from
what I can ascertain, we really didnbt have a chance
to begin with.  
You
see, I heard on the news b from Mayor Villaraigosa
himself, no less b 
that
Ralph Horowitz, the property owner, was, in fact,
offered the full 
amount for
the purchase of the farm, but Mr. Horowitz
vindictively refused the 
sale
because he is intent that everyone on the property be
evicted before he 
would
sell it.

He has gotten his wish.  Everyone was evicted from the
Farm today and 
now law
enforcement has moved in to wipe the last of the
protestors off the 
street.
Not only a glutton, but a small, mean one at that; Mr.
Horowitz does 
not want
for money b the $16 million wouldnbt have been chump
change, but he 
and
his family have nothing to want for no matter how this
property 
eventually
ends up being disposed of.

Mr. Horowitz came to be the property owner under
highly suspect 
conditions.
The city had bought the property using eminent domain
in the 1980bs 
for $5
million.  After the project slated for the site fell
through, the city
transferred the property from one department to
another b valuing it 
at $12
million.  But then, in some odd twist of fate, the
city then sold the 
property
to Ralph Horowitz for the sweetheart sum of $5
million, a transaction 
that was
hidden from public scrutiny for six months.
With much fanfare and a lot of heart, funds were
raised to meet Mr.
Horowitzb asking price of $16 million but Mr.
Horowitz had made up his 
mind
that he would make his mark on the people of South
Central Los Angeles 
and do
what he could personally do to make them feel the
brunt of the law and 
his
personal power.  It is hard for me to look at such a
moneyed person and 
feel
sympathy, yet I know that would be the truly sacred
attitude to assume.  
Ibm
sorry Ibm not that evolved.

And Ibm sorry that our system has failed.

In an act of supreme irony, today was also the day
that our Los Angeles 
County
Sheriff announced support for a drive to raise a
special tax to fight 
gangs.
How can one support a tax hike when one knows that
those taxes will be 
used to
offset the expense of this eviction b eviction from
one of the very 
few
bright spots in that part of Los Angeles where lack of
hope fuels 
gangs?
South Central Farm was well noted for being gang free
and an even safer 
place
than the neighboring schools!  It appears that no one
is listening and 
the
taxpayer pays for it going both directions.

And even in the same breath, the mayor and city
council are talking 
about
expanded green spaces through out our city.  It
appears that 14 acres 
in South
Central Los Angeles will be bulldozed to make way for
another 
warehouse.  It
is green now, there would be no money required to make
it green b it 
IS
green.  But soon it will go awayb&

Horowitz is only the most visible criminal here.  I
donbt understand 
how he
came to own this land and how the city was able to
sell it to him 
without more
outcry and why those, from the citybs side, havenbt
been named and 
brought
to account.
As always, the event that makes the TV cameras, like
what has happened 
today,
is only the tip of a very large iceberg that has been
among us for a 
very long
time.

Events like todaybs media circus are only that.  The
hard work that 
went
into making South Central Farms one of the largest of
community gardens 
in the
nation will be bulldozed and poor families,
disenfranchised from the 
legal and
financial system, will move on to find a new place to
put in their 
crops and
pray for a good harvest.  It has always been thus and
prayers that we, 
here
and now, Los Angeles 2006, could rise up to be a
better civilization 
and
kinder society remain unanswered while the deals in
the backroom 
continue to
oppress the life and vitality of those willing to work
for a better 
world.

I have lamented, now I have beans to water and
tomatoes to weed.  Itbs 
all I
really know.

david


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