People’s Park still blooming – 1969-2009

New Book about People’s Park!

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the construction of People’s Park in Berkeley, local author and activist Terri Compost has compiled People’s Park: Still Blooming, a 200 page full-color coffee table book that documents the Park’s evolution from 1969 to the present day.

People’s Park, located between Haste Street and Dwight Avenue, half a block East of Telegraph Avenue, is in many ways the spiritual and inspirational nexus of radical activism in the East Bay. Since a diverse coalition of activists seized a vacant lot to build the Park in 1969, the Park has been a model for do-it-yourself direct action. In the years since 1969, generations of activists have fought to permit the users of the Park to decide how it should be developed, operated and maintained — embodying the principal of user development — in the face of constant police repression. Amidst all the riots and protests, the park still blooms.

As the silent narrator, Terri weaves together interviews, news clippings and book excerpts to tell the story of the Park’s past, present and future. The book features hundreds of historical images and photographs of the Park’s present uses: as a community garden and native plant repository in a dense urban area; as a liberated zone for concerts and political rallies; and as one of the few places open to all people — rich and poor, homeless and housed — in an increasingly consumer-dominated Berkeley. Daily free food provided by Food Not Bombs and others draws a constantly shifting band of punks, travelers, artists and marginalized people to the Park.

It is fitting that People’s Park: Still Blooming is the first book published by the Slingshot Collective. Slingshot traces its roots to the Park — the ideas that inspired it and the street protests that have kept it alive. The book is not a dry historical text nor mere picture book — its conception and actualization are intimately tied to a living struggle with implications far wider than just Berkeley or just a Park. The struggle for the Park is the same as the global struggle for freedom, cooperation and ecological balance over hierarchy, corporations and a throw-away world.

Look for People’s Park: Still Blooming in your local indy-bookstore or infoshop, or order from the slingshot website: slingshot@tao.ca.