Meeting between Chancellor Dirks and SEAL
November 14, 2014 1pm-2pm
California Hall, Room 200
**Comment on the notes from SEAL: We are still awaiting official approval of notes from the Office of the Dean. Dan Mogulof, Executive Direct of Media Relations, emailed on 11/21 to say that he would be providing edits to the notes by early the week of the 11/24, but none have yet been distributed.
In advance of the meeting, Agreements for Engagement were distributed by SEAL stating that “All parties will have an opportunity to review the notes, provide suggested edits, and approve the notes before Monday, Nov 17th at 12pm. By Monday at 12pm, they will be considered approved and can be shared.”
In accordance with these Agreements for Engagement, we have shared these notes despite a lack of follow-up from Dan Mogulof.
We would also like to extend our thanks to Katherine Walsh from the Student Environmental Resource Center for being a neutral notetaker at this meeting.
- Dea Oganesian, Undergraduate Student, SEAL, UC Berkeley
- Vanessa Raditz, Graduate Student, SEAL, UC Berkeley
- Zachary Raden, Undergraduate Student, SEAL, UC Berkeley
- Suzanne Kline, Undergraduate Student, Resident of University Village, UC Berkeley
- Paula Jaramillo, Undergraduate Student, UC Berkeley
- Helia Bidad, Undergraduate Student, UC Berkeley
- Haley Broder, Undergraduate Student, ASUC, UC Berkeley
- Cora Kingdon, Undergraduate Student, ASUC, UC Berkeley
- Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor, UC Berkeley
- Keith Gilless, Dean, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley
- Kevin Hufferd, Real Estate, UC Berkeley
- Bob Lalanne, Real Estate, UC Berkeley
- Dan Mogulof, Public Affairs, UC Berkeley
- David Surratt, Dean of Students, UC Berkeley
- Chris Treadway, Government and Community Relations, UC Berkeley
- Nils Gilman, Office of the Chancellor, UC Berkeley
- Katherine Walsh, ASUC Student Union, UC Berkeley (scribe)
Overall framing of the meeting: Rationally discuss SEAL’s proposal to explore an alternative plan to development of the Gill Tract through a participatory community-design process that is in the best interest of the community, students, and university. SEAL requests a moratorium to development in order to engage in a rational conversation about an alternative plan.
- Introductions and Agreements for Engagement
- Presentations from SEAL on the Proposal for a Food Initiative on all 20 acres of Gill Tract Farm
- Clarifying Questions on Proposal
- The Way Forward
- Wrapping Up
- SEAL’s Proposal: “The Way Forward”
- SEAL’s report on the Gill Tract history, presented to Chancellor Dirks
- SEAL is asking Chancellor Dirks to move forward with SEAL’s proposal.
- An alternative plan to development is in the better interests of students, community, and our land grant university.
- SEAL is here to present their plan, answer any clarifying questions, discuss the proposal, and resolve bitter tensions.
- I am new, so I would like to review the history of the past twenty years.
- SEAL has created a report of the history of the Gill Tract for you.
- (Vanessa presents the report to Chancellor Dirks).
- SEAL feels Kevin Hufferd’s side has been heard and would like SEAL’s side to be heard.
- I will present our role in the meeting and our meeting agreements, Vanessa will explain the agenda.
- First, we are honored and thankful to be here to discuss this issue. This is a people’s struggle and people’s issue.
- Students see themselves as delegates speaking on behalf of those who have developed alternative visions for the land for the past 17 years.
- Let us have transparency and mutual respect during this meeting.
- To ensure we represent all the community concerns, we will sometimes be referencing our notes.
- All of us will agree to
- Mutual respect and attention
- Listen deeply and communicate politely
- Respond to ideas, do not demean individuals
- Notes will be taken by Cora from the ASUC and Katherine, and will be shared out for approval by the group after the meeting. Approved notes will be made public.
Introduces neutral note taker, Katherine Walsh, a staff person within the Dean of Students area
Introductions of Attendees:
Vanessa Raditz, Masters of Public Health candidate
- Graduate student instructor of environmental justice course during Spring 2014.
- Taught students hands-on learning in the Gill Tract, hands-on engaged learning for agriculture and the food system. UC Berkeley students need these skills.
Dea Oganesian, 3rd year undergraduate Conservation and Resource Studies student, studying urban agriculture and sustainable communities
- The Gill Tract Community Farm builds food sovereignty and resilience
Helia Bidad, 2nd year undergraduate Society and Environment student
- Student in Vanessa’s class, had the chance to working on Gill Tract
- Gained experience sampling, mitigating, and analyzing soil, then planting and harvesting food
- There is nothing like hands-on learning
Cora Kingdon, undergraduate student working for ASUC Senator Haley Broder’s office
Zachary Raden 4th year undergraduate student, studying Sociology
- The farm helps mitigate inequalities.
Suzanne Kline, undergraduate student studying Dietetics and Nutritional Science
- Suzanne is a student parent, has a nine year old son, and is a resident of University Village.
- Suzanne and her son have developed a strong relationship with the farm. The produce from the farm helps feed the family.
Haley Broder, ASUC senator, 3rd year undergraduate student, studying Environmental Politics and Gender Inequalities
- There have been multiple senate bills passed related to this issue and the University needs to be transparent with its plans.
Keith Gilless, Dean of the College of Natural Resources
Nils Gilman, Associate Chancellor/Chief of Staff, Office of the Chancellor
Chris Treadway, Assistant Chancellor, Government and Community Relations
Katherine Walsh, Director of the Student Environmental Resource Center
- Here as a neutral note taker
David Surratt, Associate Dean of Students
Dan Mogulof, Executive Director, Public Affairs
Bob Lalanne, Vice Chancellor, Real Estate
Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor
Keith Hufferd, Director of Property Development, Real Estate
- Thank you for meeting with us. We will take 20 minutes for presentation of the proposal, then answer clarifying questions, and then have conversation about how we can move forward with rational discussion of this issue.
- Now we will present why we need an alternative plan.
- Insufficient community process:
- SEAL recognizes there is no consensus on the community side of this issue.
- SEAL has a letter of support from ASUC EAVP Caitlin Quinn.
- At Albany City Council Meetings, quite a number of community members have spoken out against the development.
- The Albany City Council members said they could only vote on the legality of the development, as it was not within their jurisdiction to debate what kind of development happens on the land.
- University has not allowed a participatory design process for the land.
- The Albany City Council wrote a resolution urging the University to have a space on the Gill Tract where children from the community and city of Albany could come to get garden and farming education
- 2012 referendum petition was signed by more than 1300 Albany residents to put the development to a resident vote; The Council instead chose to repeal the development agreement, not allowing the development to go to popular vote.
- It is SEAL’s imperative is to respond to that community and engage them in a participatory way.
- Former Albany Mayor Bob Lieber attempted to pass an easement, which was his attempt to collaborate with the University; this shows the city of Albany trying to work collaboratively with the university, the university continues to push forward without doing that.
- Now we will move into arguments against the proposed development:
- Food systems studies are taking off within the UC System. Sprouts Farmers Market [the proposed grocery store] is against that and represents much of what is wrong with the current food system.
- I have worked for Trader Joes for 3 years, and have family members who have worked in the grocery business.
- There is tremendous amount of food waste from spoiled food, unsold food; very little gets donated.
- During transportation, loading, and unloading, pallets fall from the trucks; food falls off the pallets and is wasted.
- Trader Joes has problems with too much packaging; Sprouts sells even more packaged and processed foods. Trader Joes has tried to say it is a non GMO store, when it does sell GMO foods. There is a lot of controversy over correct labeling of foods. Sprouts sells conventional and processed foods.
- The amount of transportation that is needed for food stores is very high; Traffic is already very busy near the proposed location. The food transportation will increase fossil fuels pollution.
- As an experienced food store worker, I can speak to the labor injustices. People are not making too much money, and when workers are sick, they show up to work anyway because they cannot lose their jobs, potentially creating health risks for themselves and customers.
- There is a lot of heavy lifting leading to back and motor injuries. I have scoliosis and it is difficult to do the heavy lifting of pallets.
- Supermarkets further injustices for how food is produced- to stock supermarkets with enough food, they support pesticides, labor injustices, and growing food for just for this market.
- Whole Foods is right down the street, very close, and serves the same purpose.
- Now I will speak to the economic injustices to the community if the proposed development plans move forward.
- Whole Foods is right around the corner; Sprouts would be serving the same purpose.
- More money would stay in the community if it was a local chain; Sprouts is a corporate chain, and the majority of the money will go to corporate. It will not trickle down to the workers or the local community.
- The proposed senior housing development [Belmont Village] is expensive and unaffordable to many senior citizens.
- The majority of the public comments are against the [Village] development, many made by senior members in the community.
- Finally, Sprouts is a union busting corporation.
- These actions go against what the students are learning in their classrooms and in reading their books.
- There are also a number of environmental injustices. As I said earlier, I was a graduate student instructor of an environmental justice class this semester.
- Diesel will be used for deliveries. There will be increased traffic and stalled vehicles in the parking lots. Particulate matter will increase in the air from the diesel and stalled cars. Particulate matter is very dangerous.
- 70 trees will be cut down in a place with some of the highest levels of pollution. This area is next to the 580 freeway, and the steel factory. There is currently a study underway looking at the air pollution of this area.
- The area is already in the 78 percentile for asthma rates, according to the California EPA.
- Development would also increase local warming by baking the air, localizing impacts, and increasing the production of ozone, which triggers and causes asthma.
- The Environmental Impact Report did address these air and noise pollution issues and the solution is that the windows in the Belmont Village Development will remain permanently shut. This is a solution?
- There would also be a lack of open green space at the Belmont Village Development; the proposed Village includes less green space than is considered legal by the city of Albany, but it was passed anyway. There was a lawsuit filed on this matter by a local Albany resident.
- A senior living center should be a healing environment. Belmont Village is not a healing environment for seniors.
- Ocean View Elementary students and senior citizens are vulnerable populations.
- [Prioritizing participatory research and experiential learning in food systems.]
- Urban agriculture is more than growing food.
- Urban agriculture makes up 20% of global food production and involves 800 million people
- The UN has reported that small scale organic farming is the only way to feed the world.
- We could be the leaders to carry out what the experts have been saying.
- Create participatory and experiential learning for social, economic, environmental justice.
- Grant community access to the land.
- Have a food security pantry.
- We could collaborate with the residence halls and Cal Dining on the pantry and reduce food insecurity for our students.
- We could make healthy organic food accessible and affordable.
- Urban gardening is also cited to help with stress and mental health, something our students are dealing with a lot.
- We could create job training programs, fair agricultural labor, small businesses, and have the wealth stay in the community.
- There is an environmental report being conducted to assess the air pollution. Students also want to survey the water impacts.
- We could reduce energy resources needed for storage, transportation, and packaging.
- We could use the compost and waste from the university on the farm.
- 47% of students skip a meal a day to save money.
- The current food pantry is only cereals and packaged foods; the farm would provide fresh produce that students need.
- 40% of residents at the University Village need food assistance.
- Agricultural education is a bounding tenant and agricultural education is severely lacking.
- The 1868 Organic Act said that we would provide agriculture to promote practical education, hands-on experiential learning.
- With the Merrill Land Grant Acts, we are supposed to be teaching agriculture.
- Many students like me are having to craft their own majors in order to include farming.
- There will soon be the new food systems minor.
- Many students are involved with SOGA, the Student Organic Garden Association. The student organic garden is one of the few hands-on learning locations on campus.
- I see hundreds of faces at field trips to the farm. For many students it is their first time on a farm. The farm shifts their relationships with food, shows how we can all feed each other together.
- 3 acres is too small, students want to know why that hasn’t expanded onto the historic farmland.
- We could have an urban agriculture education center where we can do critical research on feeding our populations in this climate crisis. We would engage the community through surveys and discussions about what should happen on the land. We would develop engaged scholars with real world practical skills.
- The last 20 acres of the farm can be used to fulfill this vision, what is holding us back from moving forward with this vision?
- This is a critical time with Global Food Initiative and the drought.
- We have these conversations on the Food Security Committee.
- The pantry is critical, but with the proposed tuition increases, more students are going to need food.
- We are already having Harvest Days at the gill tract farm for food insecure students, creating more opportunities for students to engage in food security.
- The new proposed food systems minor should include hands on education; the minor is very exciting and should be embedded in working with the land.
- There is a new Metropolitan Agriculture Director position within UC Cooperative Extension. UCANR connects UC research to local needs.
- ESPM recently launched a new Metropolitan Agriculture program and hired a cooperative extension specialist for working with urban agriculture and food systems at the county level.
- Berkeley Food Institute needs to be connected to the land; the farm is perfect for that.
- How do we engage with the Global Food Initiative from the President’s Office without the farm? We need access to agriculture; Gill Tract can provide that space for experiential learning.
- This is an opportune time to take advantage of the farm and use this for our learning.
- The Global Food Initiative Committees at UC Berkeley are:
- Experiential learning
- Food security
- Research for policy impact
- Our call for a Food Initiative on the Gill Tract aligns with the call from President Napolitano
- I am going to share some of the proposals made by the community over the last 17 years. These are community visions for the farm. (Refer to graphs in SEAL’s proposal.)
- The Bay Area Coalition for Urban Agriculture developed a proposal in 1997. They drafted a proposal for UC to open a center like the one we are now proposing.
- In 2004, Urban Roots proposed a development for a museum on the site, and also supported the 1997 proposal from BACUA.
- Occupy the Farm 2012 brought attention to the land and polarized the issue.
- My son and I fell in love with the farm when we moved here [and were able to use it], which may not have been possible without Occupy’s actions.
- A spring 2013 meeting synthesized the information of the different proposals and actions, and collected survey results from the community.
- Top priorities from the survey results included food production, education and research, community space, environmental protection. (See graphs in SEAL proposal from the survey)
- The basic methodology needs to include more impacted communities. Data has been coming from the community over the past 17 years. We would like to gather more data from students, community, staff, and faculty. This would be easier if the university were involved in an open process. Many faculty are hesitant to get involved given the polarization of the issue between occupy and the university.
- Now I will speak to being a resident of University Village:
- There are unique challenges and opportunities as a resident at University Village:
- Rent and rate hikes are a constant threat
- Access to food is a challenge.
- When I first moved to the Village, I had trouble balancing work, childcare, and school. The farm has helped tremendously; it has become a major provider of food for my family. It also helps me teach and engage my son. I already have access to Whole Foods [on Gilman], which serves the same purpose as the proposed Sprouts Farmers Market. Adding a Sprouts will increase traffic and air pollution. We can already see an increase in traffic with Whole Foods. Residents at the Village care about the safety of our children and the safety of our property.
- With a farm, more people take bikes and existing public transportation, not their cars. People take cars to grocery stores.
- The farm would provide opportunities for the children, and more people would want to move to and live at University Village in order to participate in the center. There would be fewer vacant units at the Village.
Things SEAL is requesting in order to move forward with this vision:
- A community based participatory environmental design process.
- SEAL has a faculty member from the College of Environmental Design who is ready to get involved with her class from January 2015 to June 2015.
- The faculty member’s methodology is included in SEAL’s report.
- Additional environmental surveys not included in the EIR.
- A hydrological survey, as the area of land under discussion is a convergence of multiple creeks.
- A biological survey of the land, as this land is home to many species, and this information would be very interesting to the campus labs that deal with pollinators and the related species.
- A soil carbon analysis, to look at the impact of the current open urban green space on carbon sequestration.
- This will help us understand the ecosystem services of the land
- A full cost benefit analysis of the alternative plan– include all externalities, positive and negative related to the environmental, community, and justice externalities. Include health, ecosystem services, local economy. This land could include a world renowned center for researchers and visiting scholars; what is the economic benefit to the campus of creating such a center? These numbers should be analyzed.
- We must complete these studies in an equitable way.
- The studies should be conducted by UC Berkeley faculty and researchers, not private consultants, and include opportunities for experiential learning for students, by having students learning and working on these studies
- All studies must include a democratic process involving students and community members
- All studies must be based in ant-oppressive values that prioritize the needs of underrepresented communities.
- The timing is right with the Berkeley Food Institute and the Global Food Initiative.
- Let’s reduce the liability, create a safe space to rationally discuss these ideas, be able to approach potential funders of a world class center
- We understand that private developers are ready to move forward. The Albany City Council has heard its last petition.
- What can we do to open up this conversation?
- We went over time. Let’s use the last fifteen minutes for clarifying questions.
- I have a question.
- In 1929, the University bought land from Gill Family. Schmidt Tract was sold and the work that was happening there was moved to the Gill Tract.
- The law is saying you have to have a center- where are you going to move this work if you don’t do it at Gill Tract?
- That is not the same land; the development project from Bob’s office, the only impact is on where there already was development. You can see the old foundations that are no longer there. The agriculture operations we have been engaged in are on the north side of the creek.
- They are not the same spaces. This keeps getting confused in the public spaces and discussions. Let’s get clarification on where the projects are happening.
- This is a proposal for lands that were developed and were not agriculture, except for a few laboratories. We need to get beyond that level of miscommunication.
- Capital Projects’ proposal includes cutting down Edward Gill’s rare tree arboretum, and developing the land of the former Biological Control Research Station.
- SEAL acknowledges the southern portions previously included barracks
- SEAL’s proposal does not suggest it all be used for agriculture. We are talking about a center for food systems, might involve structures. Need a participatory community process to determine.
- The public discussion is not correct
- The UC Agricultural Experiment Station is unique in the state, and is for the whole UC, not just Berkeley; I am one of four deans for the station, and much has been moved Davis
- I do not feel threatened on our land [at Gill Tract].
- We are worried about what happens after 8 years, and we only got that is because of Occupy the Farm.
- That is categorically false; I have been working my entire career to bring back agriculture into this college, based on my family background and my own reading about the future of food systems. Same as Kathryn De Master and other faculty, these issues were in motion well before Occupy; this has been in the works for years.
- I have to look out for the interests of my faculty. I have a lot of people questioning why I have put so much time and money into this issue.
- We all write our own interpretation of history; we will have to agree to disagree on this one. This is your revisionist history. It ignores what was going on and reflects a lack of communication between the university and the community. It is good to say what you say for your interests.
- It is good that you are highlighting the tension and miscommunication. Occupy reached national attention. The 1997 proposal didn’t lead to any change.
- The three-week Occupy of the farm nearly destroyed the Berkeley Food Institute from happening; I was in donor talks when this was going on.
- The University is obligated to provide agriculture education. You are ignoring the efforts of a lot of people who were working on this for a long time before Occupy. I am sure you know things I don’t know, and I know things you don’t know.
Dea Oganesian and Vanessa Raditz:
- We are only repeating what Vice Chancellor Lalanne said to us at our August meeting. He said the farm is only there because of Occupy. If you had allowed us to tape record the meeting like we wanted to, we could play it back to you. That was his quote.
- I have been trying to move the university forward on this issue for years.
- Thank you for being an ally [Dean Gilless], we consider you a deep ally in this.
- This is why we are asking for a halt on development so we can have better, rational conversations about this issue.
- People have a fear that bulldozers are coming at any time, they fear the war is coming. How can we move forward now and have rational conversations about an alternative plan?
- What you are saying now is if we don’t do what you say, you are going to declare war.
- That was my word, not theirs; I am just explaining the real fear people have and that they are ready to protect the land.
- We don’t have much time left. I have listened.
- As a newcomer, you have said a lot that is powerful on the surface.
- The problem is if these two small squares of land hold the things that were claimed, this would be transformational.
- The real discussion here should be: what is the relationship of the university to agriculture, sustainability, and food security?
- Graduate student housing is a real need. If anything we need more building, more development, because of the needs we have as an institution.
- I am always listing to all needs, there has to be a major balance of the overall institutional mission, not just one part of the mission for a specific year.
- I am going to review the process [of this issue] over the last 20 years, and if I am persuaded that all the parties were included, which I think they were, we will have discussions about 1) what are our objectives and 2) are there other options.
- You used the word war. The spirit of the meeting was not about war, but discussions, aspirations, hope, being rational- let’s keep those alive.
- Dean Gilless has been pushing for 30+ years through processes and procedures, pushing his aspirations through the campus processes and procedures which can seem cumbersome, but are necessary for the community to work together for institutional priorities.
- There are lots of current issues on climate change and air pollution; We are building a relationship with China, with the latest announcement between President Xi Jinping and President Obama
- We share a lot of general aspirations, there is much more shared here than there is disagreement
- We have also have institutional aspirations
- We are not being funded by the state.
- We make trade-offs that we never feel we are ever on the side of right absolutely. We hold our moral mission very highly.
- There are differences in historical accounts that need to be reviewed
- I will read the proposal, documents, and history to understand what SEAL has said today.
- I do not think this project should be started all over again in twenty years. I would like to see us build something together that we care about, that includes sustainability, food institute, food security, justice.
- We have to do these things in ways that are including all the interests of the institution.
- We are over time. I must go to another meeting.
- Thank you for your time. We request a response from you by the end of the semester, when classes finish.
- Chancellor Dirks will review SEAL’s proposal.
- Chancellor Dirks will review the farm history report provided to him by SEAL.
- Chancellor Dirks will review the decision-making and participatory processes of the last 20 years and review if all parties were included.
- Chancellor Dirks will provide a response to SEAL by the last day of instruction for fall 2014 semester, Friday, December 12, 2014.
- Katherine Walsh will send meeting notes to all meeting attendees for review by of the morning Monday, November 17, 2014.
- The meeting notes will be reviewed and approved by all attendees and released to the public.