I was reminded this week that there are many forms of occupation. I was reminded that it is all connected.
It’s a longer story, but a friend is having some trouble with the county parks department where he lives. Seems they want to put in a bike path. Seems they believe in order to do this they need to tear out the family’s garden. This magical, beautiful, edible, herbal, healing garden. They will also take out his neighbor’s driveway. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all for bike paths, and sidewalks and all that. The thing is there are already 2 bike paths and a sidewalk there. A 4th is not needed, it is not wanted by the neighborhood.
I’m not super clear – but there is some dispute as to who “owns” the land. Maps and survey’s vary… the county, the homeowners, some joint partnership. The path of the river was changed and the near-by beach built up for a park so naturally the surrounding land changed also. The part that is clear is that more cement and concrete are not needed and not wanted
No one can honestly answer “why” — but I predict once the garden is gone the county will have all kinds of reason to bring in businesses…. hot dogs and hot pretzels, ice cream, boat or bike rentals ….. the beach business can be booming. Or it could just be sheer vindictiveness and a power play on the part of the county. My friends are not the “sit quietly by and do nothing type” and have – I imagine – been willing to call the county out when the occasion was right.
We anticipated the bulldozers were coming when we, neighbors, friends, family… community, gathered at Jasiu and Kerry‘s house that Monday AM. On Friday the destruction crew had arrived and when Jasiu has stood in front of them and blocked their path they promised to return Monday. He called us. We came.
Monday found me sitting on Kerry and Jasiu’s deck surrounded by those that love them – family, other members of our MPT community. Those that live in the home or visit often and “know their way around” kept us supplied with coffee or cool drinks, breakfast with homemade pear butter (pears from the garden of course) and later lunch.
Throughout the day friends, neighbors, and community members stopped by to check-in and offer their support. Some offered buckets, and shovels, hands and help to dig up plants and move them before the bulldozers crushed them. Others brought a willingness to stand in front of the bulldozers with Jasiu – risking arrest to stand in solidarity and do what we could to protect such sacred space. Neighborhood folks brought stories: of their own, of their parents and grandparents….stories of neighborhood history and neighbors working together.
I could not help but think about Palestine. And while I don’t mean to minimize the occupation, the daily oppression, the destruction of homes. The similarities were too strong to ignore.
We sat in the sunshine enjoying each others company –laughing and sharing stories of hope and resistance -while at the same time waiting, anxious, sad/angry/frustrated for the machines to come. Waiting for the destruction of something sacred and beautiful – the garden. Waiting to see if our attempts to stop that would be successful or a symbolic act of solidarity and resistance. And I was reminded of sitting with Palestinian families enjoying each others company –laughing and sharing stories of hope and resistance -while at the same time waiting, anxious, sad/angry/frustrated for the machines to come. Waiting for the destruction of something sacred and beautiful – their home, their olive grove their fields. Waiting to see if our attempts to stop that would be successful or a symbolic act of solidarity and resistance.
As Kerry, Jasiu and Melody refilled coffee cups and offered hospitality while facing the loss of something so dear I recalled the incredible hospitality of the families I stayed with in Palestine. Of the seemingly never ending rounds of coffee and tea and anything the family could bring forth to share.
And as neighbors, family and friends came by — some for just a few minutes, others to stay the day – to offer support in whatever way they could. I thought of the neighbors and families in Palestine who came sit , to cry, to laugh and to be with those who were the current target for the hostility of the Israeli forces.
Yep -occupation takes many forms. It is all connected. And while resistance takes many forms too – I am reminded it too is connected. It is connected by love and hope.