All the People Have a Place (and a Garden) at the Berkeley Post Office

The ground has been cleared of trash and weeds, and we’ve turned over the sod and amended the soil to break up the clay.  We’ve piled compost and manure to the side of the planting area, which is about 900 square feet in extent.  Situated on the West side of the post office, the garden will get healthy doses of sunlight.

First They Came for the Homeless and Berkeley Post Office Defenders have made these preparations and will organize the maintenance of the Garden of Common Good with plant and post office-loving community members.  The first planting was done on Saturday, Jan. 17.  More plants, compost, good soil, mulch, cured manure, and tools for planting are needed.  Food and water for gardeners can also be dropped off and community media postings are very much appreciated.

This garden is yours if you want it, just as our public postal service is yours if you want it.  So many things on Earth have been handed over to become private possessions for increasing personal wealth. The people of Berkeley have shown that we want to keep the post office for our collective use and this garden is an act of commitment to the concept of common good.

Without the pretension of private ownership, none of us can say, “This is mine.  Stay away!”  Instead, if our new garden is to flourish, it has to be respected and valued by everyone.  So it will continue to be a public garden as long as we all agree that it should be a garden for everyone.

From the beginning, our public postal service has been such a part of our communal lives, and we haven’t had to think of being without it.  It has endured so long and so well by using profits from the sale of its services to keep the cost of those services as low as possible while using some to build post offices everywhere they’re needed and to carry mail to the doorstep of everyone in the country.  The USPS hasn’t made millionaires out of its executives, nor has it divvied up its profits amongst speculators.  From the beginning, our post office has honored its mission to provide services that are of value to all of us – not just a group of shareholders, not just those able to leave their homes to collect and send mail from a remote location, not just those who can afford postage rates set to maximize dividends, not just those who live in densely populated areas, and not just those who live on the rich side of the tracks.

We who have been encamped at the Main Berkeley Post Office for two-and-a-half months want to keep this brilliant enterprise of universal service out of the hands of private speculators so that it can continue to do what it has done so well for so long and so that it can continue to serve as the best example of public ownership.

The public postal service is for everyone because it belongs to everyone.  And so is our fairly large postage stamp of a garden.  We think they complement each other nicely.


First They Came for the Homeless on KPFA

Mike Zint  of First They Came for the Homeless was interviewed by David Landau on Sunday Dec 21 for KPFA 6 pm evening news. The program is produced by Anthony Fest who has previously interviewed him and JP Massar of Berkeley Post Office Defenders. You can hear it on the KPFA archive about three fourths of the way in.  Leaving a comment helps KPFA know that people are interested.