First, let’s give a hand to protesters in Berkeley and Albany, California. The east-bay Occupiers expropriated a patch of land that the state-subsidized UC Berkeley was going to sell off to private developers and the demonstrators did what needed to be done: they started farming it.
This action coincides almost eerily with a Bat Country-exclusive novel being written by a BC staff member. Here’s an excerpt from that upcoming work of fiction:
Taylor looks down the wet sidewalk. Ten yards from where he stands grows a massive banyan tree. Its roots are cracking and upending a big section of sidewalk. Its branches hover low over the sidewalk and Taylor remembers some kind of small orange furry fruit that falls from it in the summer. The area beneath its canopy remains almost dry. The rain has tapered off a bit. The ground beneath the banyan isn’t colored darkly by the raindrops as are the blacktop and concrete outside its great umbrella. At the base of the tree, Taylor notices a mass –a lump on the ground. As he stands there, inspecting the lump from afar, the lump moves and Taylor hears fabric rustling. A homeless man turns over under filthy blankets beneath the tree.
A man lives under the tree that stands outside this empty unused lot –the only thing keeping him out is a frail metal fence. That man is malnourished. He sleeps beneath a tree to stay out of the rain right next to an apartment building with empty units, waiting for renters. If the homeless man tried to break into that apartment for shelter or if he tried to grow food in this lot the police would rip him out and throw him back on the streets –probably with a good beating to remind the man that he exists outside of society and he should stay there if he has no money. After they threw him out under the threat of death and dismemberment, the police would reinforce the fence and the apartment door to cordon off this empty space, to keep others out, to enforce false scarcity.
Taylor pushes the metal fence and it gives a little then springs back against his hand. He imagines he can drive his truck through it. He fantasizes about slamming his pickup through the chain-link, like in the movies. He fantasizes about holding off the police with guns and tilling the earth to plant food and watch it grow. What if he could get a bunch of people to help him? What if he could smash the fence and then defend the land against the police?