A Visit to the Encinitas Tree Sitter

by on February 1, 2009 · 3 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Environment, San Diego

When we heard what the Encinitas tree-sitter was doing, Patty and I wanted to meet him. So we drove up the coast on a beautiful day to do just that. We found Orpheus Park – about halfway between the freeway and the coast – denuded of most of its trees. And there was Andrew Watkins hanging upside down from a large branch, along with a few other friends who had climbed up to the platform that Watkins had assembled.

When word of what the City of Encinitas was going to do – chop down adult trees in a local park because of complaints of loss of views from nearby condo residents – Watkins pushed his wood platform up into one of the tipuana tipu – not a large tree – climbed up himself, and waited. That was Thursday night in the wee hours of January 29th.

We read about him in Saturday’s Union-Tribune. There was a follow-up piece today. Andrew told us he was going to stay in the tree until the mayor came down to tell him it was not going to be cut down. He had heard about the OB Rag blog, and was very friendly. We told him we appreciated what he was doing. Andrew’s friends, other fellow tree lovers, school kids had come out to lend verbal support. Some had given him refreshments. Media had paid him several visits. He was certainly getting his 15 minutes of fame, and more.

I snatched up this Google satellite image and marked the places where trees had been cut down and where new trees have been planted. Almost all the shade from the center of the park has been taken away and the new trees have been planted around the edges of the park.

Never having stepped foot into this park before, it was difficult to see what damage had been done. Until we saw the mounds of dirt – sitting like tombs of the cut trees – scattered about the grassy park on a hill. Some had little signs stuck in the earth where once great, shady trees had stood. It was sad.

But instead of sadness, Andrew Watkins was energized. He had crawled out onto a limb, literally and figuratively. In his view, the next move was by local government.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Joe February 3, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Awesome photage, guys! Good job on the map of axed trees, I assume Patty did it.


jon February 10, 2009 at 8:37 am

Bummer. They cut it down the minute he left his post. I think everyone knew that would happen. The silly thing is, those condos still have a crappy view and no trees to boot! For some reason now I can’t get this song out of my head:

“Nothing But Flowers”
-The Talking Heads

Here we stand
Like an Adam and an Eve
The Garden of Eden
Two fools in love
So beautiful and strong
The birds in the trees
Are smiling upon them
From the age of the dinosaurs
Cars have run on gasoline
Where, where have they gone?
Now, it’s nothing but flowers

There was a factory
Now there are mountains and rivers
you got it, you got it

We caught a rattlesnake
Now we got something for dinner
we got it, we got it

There was a shopping mall
Now it’s all covered with flowers
you’ve got it, you’ve got it

If this is paradise
I wish I had a lawnmower
you’ve got it, you’ve got it

Years ago
I was an angry young man
I’d pretend
That I was a billboard
Standing tall
By the side of the road
I fell in love
With a beautiful highway
This used to be real estate
Now it’s only fields and trees
Where, where is the town
Now, it’s nothing but flowers
The highways and cars
Were sacrificed for agriculture
I thought that we’d start over
But I guess I was wrong

Once there were parking lots
Now it’s a peaceful oasis
you got it, you got it

This was a Pizza Hut
Now it’s all covered with daisies
you got it, you got it

I miss the honky tonks,
Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens
you got it, you got it

And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
you got it, you got it

I dream of cherry pies,
Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies
you got it, you got it

We used to microwave
Now we just eat nuts and berries
you got it, you got it

This was a discount store,
Now it’s turned into a cornfield
you got it, you got it

Don’t leave me stranded here
I can’t get used to this lifestyle


Frank Gormlie February 10, 2009 at 7:41 pm

We all were saddened to learn of the stupid cutting down of the tree. We had visited it and had met the tree-sitter. Even though Andrew Watkins was vilified by the press just before the ax fell, it was Watkins who brought our attention to the tree and the plight of a park. Humanity proves how absurd modern life is.


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