Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s Speech June 1, 2019
at the Rededictation of the Ohlone Mural
As Mayor, I am accustomed to welcoming people to Berkeley from all over the world and that it’s humbling for me to be welcomed by the first people of the Bay Area. Hearing the original language of the East Bay brings to mind the fact that non-Indian languages first came to the Bay Area less than two and a half centuries ago while Chochenyo has been spoken here for thousands of years. Just as we are all enriched by having Spanish speakers and people of Latin American ancestry as a vital presence in California culture, so are we enriched by the language and culture of the first people of the Bay Area.
Some would like us to believe that Native people are people of the past. In creating the mural, the artist Jean LaMarr wanted everyone to know that you are with us as your presence makes so evident today. Indigenous ways are present not only in Jean LaMarr’s magnificent mural, a treasured work of public art. Native culture is present in ways that include the food served at Cafe Ohlone by Ohlone tribal members, in Tommy Orange’s novel There There about Oakland’s Native community, in Berkeley’s Indigenous People’s Day, which this year occurs on October 12th, and in the Native California Indian Arts and Culture Festival that you will see in Ohlone Park between McGee and Grant streets this afternoon.
One of the wonderful things about Berkeley is that people are here from everywhere in the world. That’s why it is especially important to honor the legacy and acknowledge the presence of the people who are native to this place. For just as Berkeley has been a seedbed for initiatives that have taken root in our society, from disability rights to schoolyard gardening, so the Native people of this place offer guidance as we work toward a better future. For example,
- Some of the California tribes have resumed cultural burning. In doing so, they are reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires and restoring wildlands that evolved with fire. We have a lot to learn from traditional land management practices, including the cultivation of Native plants. Not only do these provide many direct benefits, from medicines and foods to basketry materials, they attract birds and support a biodiverse insect population.
- The use of natural renewable materials for all sorts of containers as in the basket-making by California tribal members is much wiser than the proliferating plastic that is a planetary health hazard for animals and humans alike. The refusal to waste, the use of every part of an animal, the respect for the life of plants and animals as our relations offer lessons for a world in which so many cannot even respect other human beings.
- The revival of indigenous cultures after genocide and displacement and assaults on Native languages and religious practices is inspiring. No matter what the future holds for us, that example will give us courage and inspiration.
- Guiding us above all is the cultural wisdom that instructs us to act for the sake of future generations. This indigenous ethos challenges a society that rewards the favored few who manipulate our economic and political system to serve their short-term interests regardless of the consequences for the rest of us and the planet as a whole.
So thank you all for being here today. Enjoy this celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ohlone Park. And as you celebrate, think forward to 50 years from now and consider how our actions and our ways of living can benefit the people of the future.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION FOR OHLONE PARK IN BERKELEY
SATURDAY, JUNE 1ST, 2019 11 AM TO 4 PM
The 50th anniversary celebration of Ohlone Park, to be held Saturday, June 1st,
will salute citizen activists who founded the park in 1969 and honor the Native
California Indians whose heritage, dating back thousands of years in the Bay
Area, gave this treasured open space in Berkeley its name.
The twin themes of this daylong festival feature a rare combination of exquisite
community arts and gritty tales of protest and struggle.
Nationally recognized California Indian artists and craftspeople, whose works
are included in museums around the country, will demonstrate basket weaving,
string-making arts, bead work and other traditional crafts, as well as teaching
simple games using walnut dice and staves. Longtime city residents will gather to
share firsthand accounts of building the park with plantings and sculpture and
with a determination born of the era’s turmoil.
At the eastern entrance to Ohlone Park, which stretches along Hearst Avenue
from Milvia to Sacramento Streets above BART’s tunnel connecting its
downtown and North Berkeley stations, festivities will kick off at 11 am.
Members of the local Muwekma Ohlone tribe and artist Jean LaMarr will take
part in a rededication ceremony of LaMarr’s four-sided mural that depicts
Ohlone history and its communal life. The Muwekma will tell stories of their
ancestors and family members who are depicted on the mural. Funding from a
UC Chancellor’s grant and from Berkeley’s Civic Arts Commission will enable
LaMarr to realize her vision later this year of an art garden around the Ohlone
Mural, with native plants, a grinding rock sculpture, and redwood benches that
depict swimming salmon.
During the afternoon, from noon to 4, there will be activities for the entire
community: a Native California Indian arts and culture festival, including music
and dance as well as craft demonstrations and sales, organized by the California
Institute for Community, Art and Nature; historical displays of photographs and
news stories from 1969; an Old Time acoustic music jam, a plant and crop swap,
dance and martial arts classes, clowning and other children’s activities, food
vendors, and more.
Where: Ohlone Park on Hearst Avenue from Milvia to Sacramento Streets,
When: Saturday, June 1st , 11 AM to 4 PM
Sponsors for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Ohlone Park include: Friends of Ohlone Park; the City of Berkeley; California Institute for Community, Art and Nature; Alliance for California Traditional Arts; and Berkeley Partner for Parks.
Contact: Ohlone Friends <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Bread and Puppet Theater performed at Ohlone Park Sunday, October 23rd. The legendary Vermont-based giant puppet theater company began its first national tour since 1979 on September 7th and will continue across the country until December. This is a major tour involving several vehicles including a huge school bus that transports up to thirty musicians and performers. An audience of over one hundred enjoyed the two hour performance and afterwards purchased posters and books from the troupe.
On October 6th FOOP organized a District 1 Candidate Forum. More than 60 residents participated along with the four candidates running for the D1 Council seat. Audience questions addressed a variety of issues facing Berkeley residents.
Inquiries regarding Ohlone Park focused on increasing its funding. For in spite of the boom in residential construction downtown, which will require the park to accommodate a larger population and a wider variety of uses, only the dog park has received funding in recent years, while ongoing landscape maintenance has suffered, and the need for adequate lighting and restrooms, for instance, has not been addressed.
The candidates were grateful for the opportunity to meet individually with voters following the question and answer program.
Great news for Ohlone Park:
Friends of Ohlone Park (FOOP) will receive $5,000 from the University of California Chancellor’s office to create a border of rocks and native plants around the Ohlone Mural.
The border was envisioned by California Indian artist Jean La Marr when she originally designed the four-sided mural at Hearst and Milvia in Ohlone Park.
This grant comes from the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund, which pairs UC partners with Berkeley citizen projects. The university’s Botanical Garden will work with FOOP in implementing the mural border, and it will donate some of the plants that will grow around the mural.
In addition, the Phoebe Hearst Anthropology Museum will create a webpage about the Ohlone for park visitors to access via an informational sign with its link posted near the mural.
In this way FOOP will further realize a central purpose: to honor the Ohlone people for whom the park is named.
– – – –
Update on recent activities at Ohlone Park and current projects.
On Saturday, March 10th, Friends of Ohlone Park (FOOP) collaborated with Cal students who volunteered for Berkeley Projects Day. This is a day that brings together students and residents to work on infrastructure improvements throughout the City. Three locations in Ohlone Park received much needed help: the Dog Park, the Community Garden, and the area near the playing field at California Street.
FOOP also collaborated with Transitions Berkeley to spruce up the Pollinator (Native Plant) Garden on Sacramento. Dozens of students and researchers helped us pull weeds, remove a huge quantity of ivy, and spread mulch in specific areas.
A reminder: FOOP is organized to improve and maintain Ohlone Park. FOOP over the past few years of its existence has been recognized by City officials as a dedicated organization that effectively advocates for park improvements. We wish to continue through 2018 to work with the city to improve the lighting in the park and to be a conduit for neighborhood input on various projects that the Parks Department would like to undertake in the near future, like the basketball court resurfacing and permanent restrooms. We also promote plantings along where the park borders the residences on Delaware. We have also been in touch with the cyclist community regarding safe traffic routes in and around the park.
FOOP’s current in-process projects: A perimeter garden around the Ohlone Mural at the east end of the park. (This would consist of native plants, a pebble and rock border and sculpture.); An expansion of a play area for small children; An outdoor area for Seniors use.
Soon (ish), after the late rains have ceased, FOOP will announce a community-wide meeting/picnic to update neighbors on Ohlone Park matters. Please watch your mailbox for that. We will be asking for small financial contributions (membership dues) at that time to assist FOOP’s work.
Friends of Ohlone Park – Coordinating Team (FOOP/CT)
March 23, 2018
Dear neighbors and Friends of Ohlone Park,
Below is an update on several issues that members of FOOP have been working on. The first item is an update on the Ohlone Basketball Court Renovation and the question of a permanent restroom. (In short, the City is proceeding with a basketball court renovation. This project will not include a public restroom, which will instead be considered as part of a citywide assessment of the need for public restrooms.)
The second section is a report from Steve Most about a recent meeting with Councilmember Kate Harrison about Ohlone Park. This serves as an update on a number of projects.
The next FOOP meeting has not be scheduled at this time.
For questions or to become involved, please contact us at Berkeleyfoop@gmail.com.
Ohlone Basketball Court renovation and Ohlone Park Permanent Restroom Update: Please see the following note (dated 11/8/17) from Evelyn Chan, P.E. (510-981-6430) the City of Berkeley project engineer for the basketball court renovation. Evelyn invites neighbors to contact her directly with questions or concerns at 510-981-6430 or Echan@cityofberkeley.info:
Nice speaking with you. To follow up with your email below and to confirm from our conversation, the construction of a permanent restroom at Ohlone Park is not currently funded.
I went back and reviewed the Council Meeting and minutes, and in the final adoption of the T1 projects, the restroom at Ohlone Park was ultimately not included. However, there was a consideration for the Ohlone Park restroom to be added if funding became available, or to add to the priority for Phase 2, but to also take this into consideration with the Citywide Restrooms Needs Assessment study that IS included in Phase 1 of T1.
I spoke to Scott about how we could include some conceptual planning input (where and what, regarding this potential restroom) during a neighborhood meeting that we are already planning to have as part of our Ohlone Park Basketball Courts project. The intent is that we can then take the input received, and deliver that information to the team that will oversee the Citywide Restroom Needs Assessment project. (FYI – The restroom project team has not been formed yet, as of today.) The restroom assessment project will likely have their own public meetings as well, so we’ll work with you to get your voices and input heard in that process.
The timeline currently looks like:
July 1, 2018 (Start of FY2019): Funding becomes available for Ohlone Park Basketball project. This funds the remaining design efforts and gets the project to Construction.
Fall 2018: Public Meeting to be scheduled for the Basketball project. We will take input on conceptual design of restroom. We will deliver that initial input to the team that will oversee the citywide restrooms analysis project.
Our webpage describes the project too simply as “Ohlone Park Basketball Court, Lighting Construction and Restroom Design”. You may want to consider the Construction part of the Basketball Court and the Design part of the restroom as separate efforts. Let me see how I can re-word that project description to be a little more accurate to our situation.
As always, feel free to contact me if I can assist with any additional information or clarification.
Evelyn Chan, P.E.
CITY OF BERKELEY
1947 Center Street, 4th Floor; Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 981-6430 F. (510) 981-6390
Please contact Evelyn Chan for additional information or clarification.
Report from meeting with Councilmember Harrison (12/12/17):
On December 12, FOOP coordinating team members Miranda Ewell and Stephen Most met with city councilwoman Kate Harrison and her staff member Tara Sreekrishnan.
KH said that the North Berkeley Senior Center will close in November, ’18. It needs a seismic retrofit in order to serve as an emergency center for the City. Regarding NBSC programs, those will probably move to the SBSC.
SM & ME informed KH about FOOP’s strategic plan to improve Ohlone Park. The big picture is that more and more people will use this park as more housing goes up in and near downtown; that the park is a transportation corridor for bicyclists and pedestrians, connecting the campus & downtown & residential area with N Berkeley BART; and that FOOP wants the park to be actively used in ways that are safe, enjoyable and welcome to its neighbors.
Regarding the transportation corridor, KH asked for a copy of the map FOOP has made that show the need for better lighting along and within Ohlone Park. She is interested in working with Linda Maio on placing a budget item before City Council next June to pay for lighting in the park as a public safety measure.
ME spoke about having a parcourse for seniors east of NBSC, a project that would have to wait until the renovation ends. She also recommended enlarging the totlot.
SM told KH that FOOP has applied to the Chancellors Community Partnership Fund for a grant to place a border of stone, artworks and indigenous plants around the Ohlone Mural. This was the vision of the artist Jean LaMarr who painted the mural and who would design its border. ME noted that Parks gardeners are unable to cut grass mechanically along Ohlone Dog Park fences and recommended a border of stones and indigenous plants to replace the grass there. A similar border could run along private fences adjacent to the park.
FOOP’s plan includes growing roses on some of those private fences. That would make the northern edge of the park more beautiful and less inviting to those who would camp and use drugs there.
ME informed KH that FOOP is working with Bike East Bay to work out details of the Hearst bike corridor.
As the meeting concluded, KH said she’d like FOOP members to meet her Parks Commissioner, Erin Diehm.
Friends of Ohlone Park (FOOP)
General Membership Meeting Notes
September 23, 2017
- Proposed Permanent restroom: FOOP presented slides outlining the topic, showing existing conditions and examples of different types of park restrooms. The goal of this meeting was to discuss the issue and provide a Statement of Guidance to the City to proactively represent neighbors’ concerns and requests.
The last communication from the City indicated the following:
– If constructed, it would be done concurrently with the planned renovation of the basketball court, which is funded for 2019.
– The City is “staffing up” to handle the plethora of new projects planned due to new bond funding.
– The City won’t be ready to present potential designs to the community until January, 2018.
We discussed ideas for locations and types of bathrooms, as well as mitigations that we could request as part of the project, including improved lighting, streamlined landscaping, better fencing at nearby residences, hours of operation, and a designated parking spot for maintenance and law enforcement vehicles in the area. There was no quorum present at the meeting to write a statement, and as a next step we agreed that we need more concrete information from City representatives to inform our recommendations.
Next step: FOOP will contact City Officials to get more concrete information on range of options they could consider for the restroom.
3. Fertilizer Use in Ohlone Park: Concerns about a recent change in the type of fertilizer being used on the grass in the park from a composted grass, Bay-friendly technique, to synthetic fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers are carcinogenic and synthetic fertilizers can contribute to greenhouse gas production.
Next step: FOOP wrote a personal email to the relevant City official asking for more detailed information on this issue.
4. Review of membership requirements from the FOOP By-laws: Voting members must have attended at least 2 meetings in the last year (can vote on 2nd meeting within 12 months), and to have paid $5 dues in current calendar year. (For more detail, see the By-laws at the FOOP website). Attendees were encouraged to pay the membership fee.
- Outstanding items not addressed due to time constraints and limited attendance:
– Update on the Native plant garden at the Ohlone Mural near Bonita St.
– Discussion of idea for a Memorial Bench in Honor of Martha Nicoloff.
– Plans for a Park clean-up and social event
– FOOP has a website! http://ohlone.transbay.net/ Please consult our website for regular updates and please share our url with neighbors.
Police warn about ‘potential threat’ to kids after tot lot incidents
by Emilie Raguso – – -Sept. 18, 2017
Berkeley police have asked the community to be on the lookout for a man linked to several bizarre run-ins with local children earlier this year.
Police identified that man as William Nicholas Turner, who authorities previously said tried to give three kids, including a 1-year-old baby, a mystery drink at North Berkeley’s Ohlone Park in June. Turner was charged with annoying or harassing a child in that case. When police first spoke with him, they “became immediately concerned with his unnatural focus on children,” said BPD on Monday. “He definitely fixated on younger kids,” the mother of the baby told Berkeleyside in an exclusive interview earlier this year.
“The Berkeley Police Department shares this information in the hopes that families who visit our parks will remain vigilant for William Turner or any other person who may pose a threat to our community,” said BPD in a prepared statement Monday afternoon. Police said they put out the alert following Turner’s release to warn the public about the “potential threat to children.”
In court papers, Berkeley Police Officer Jesse Grant documented several incidents involving 36-year-old Turner that raised community concerns. In May, a witness said Turner removed nearly all his clothes in front of a preschool before police were called to take him for a psychological evaluation. Several weeks later, there was the incident at the Ohlone Park tot lot where Turner reportedly tried to convince several children to drink from a bottle he claimed held water and honey. After speaking with police, he was placed on an emergency psychiatric detention and was later taken to jail.
Then, at the end of June, Grant said in court documents that Turner “stripped down to black underwear” and got on a playground swing at Ohlone Park after approaching children there and confessing to their mother that he had been sent to prison and “wrongfully accused for child molestation.”
According to court records online, Turner was found guilty Aug. 16 of one misdemeanor charge of engaging in lewd conduct after entering a plea of no contest. He was sentenced to three years of probation, which includes a “stay away order” from all parks and schools in Alameda County.
After Turner’s arrest, the city worked to post signage around town in numerous tot lots to make it clear that adults without children are not allowed.
Turner was most recently arrested in Berkeley on Sept. 1. He was charged with resisting arrest and disobeying a court order, according to records online. Both are misdemeanors. Minimal detail was available about what took place during that incident. The BPD log indicates it was related to a disturbance — disorderly conduct — reported at Center and Oxford streets at 4:45 a.m. BPD described the location as “near Berkeley High School, and Berkeley City College.”
That case appears to have been dismissed Sept. 8, and Turner is no longer in custody.