Another War Comes Home

The raping continues. First some background… several years ago, my hometown government began looking at reports, opening negotiations, studying plans; and when it was all done, decided to allow a for-profit enterprise to take over public and privately owned land to build a football stadium. That stadium, in Santa Clara CA, will be home to the NFL San Francisco team. Now, I used to be a football fan; at least, until I realized how the players were cut loose to fend for themselves and their injuries, with no help from the *business* for which they had worked. Pay attention to the stories of chronic injuries every player endures, or the lifelong aftereffects of too many concussions, and I imagine that you will turn your back on this business too. It is, after all, just a distraction from what is going on in society today.
And what is going on is the continued rape of our commons and our ancestors, in the name of *profit* or *creating jobs* or *growing the economy*. When the stadium plan was presented to voters for approval, adequate parking was a major concern. The proposal stated that 26,000 spaces would be provided; assuming 2 people per car, that would cover about 80% of the game day crowd. Just months ago however, with the stadium less than a year from opening, we are told: “Oh My! We are 6,000 parking spaces short! What do we do now?”
Never mind how such an egregious *counting error* could have been made: the answer from Santa Clara’s government has been to offer up a nearby publically-owned soccer park for paving. Once again, we take an area held in commons for the use of citizens and maintained to create open spaces in our ever-more-concrete jungle, and hand it over to private concerns so that they can lay asphalt and then make millions of dollars. The soccer park will be moved; and one of the three primary sites for relocating that set of fields is Ulistac Natural Area, a park that used to be home to native Californians of the Ohlone tribe. Over the last 15 years, volunteers have been working to plant oak trees to create oak woodlands and an oak savannah. Volunteers are also hard at work creating a Butterfly Garden of 700 California native shrubs. Future habitat restoration will create additional oak woodlands, as well as Sycamore and riparian woodlands. There may also be demonstration areas showing the Ohlone way of life on the site. This location includes a burial site used by the Native peoples; 230 of their plots were disturbed in order to extend and expand an existing roadway two decades ago. Would you sit silently while the bones of your great-grandparents were bulldozed out of the way? By the way, the original Ohlone Indians were pushed off their ancestral land here when a settler went to the newly established *white* land office and made a claim to take possession of the land. That was all: no sale, no consideration, and no problem as far as the colonists were concerned. *There’s a new sheriff in town and he says I can have your land…so get off my property, will ya?*
Sorry if I sound bitter or sarcastic. This mentality of taking whatever big business wants away from people is a root of our economic and social problems today. The idea that profit overrides offering residents a chance to interact with Nature while in the midst of a city, to connect with roots that extend back beyond the latest occupation of these Native lands, or to experience the wonder and awe of a butterfly garden built by volunteers; well, frankly, it makes me angry. We have fewer and fewer common areas with each passing day. It is time to stop this, to say no to corporations, to say, “So what if more people have to take public transportation to attend one of your violent spectacles?” Why do we have to cater to the comfort of the distracted, at the expense of the natural and beautiful? How much longer we will let our future slip through our fingers before we grasp the truth of what makes us happy? Hint: it’s not spending money at football games.

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