The following exchange of emails was recently posted to the faculty email list at City College of San Francisco. The first email was sent by a student at City College to the President of the Board of Trustees of the College and the Chancellor. (Written communications to public employees are in the public record.) The second email was sent by the Chairman of the Environmental Horticulture and Floristry program at City College.
“On Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 12:03 AM, Denise Louie, email address redacted
Hello President Rizzo, Chancellor Scott-Skillman and Sustainability Committee members,
Today I spoke with Environmental Horticulture instructor Gus Broucaret while his class was removing plants outside the Environmental Horticulture building. He indicated his plan was to replant similar non-native plants. I pointed out that the CCSF Sustainability Plan calls for planting native plants and urged him to reconsider his plant choices. If no one has done so, I suggest you request that all Environmental Horticulture faculty and staff be asked to follow principles of the Sustainability Plan. That includes planting [local] native plants, removing and avoiding invasive plants, conserving resources like water, and the like.
At the same time, I heard that a native plant installation had been designed for the front of EHD. The plan was drafted and did go through certain review processes, only to have been shelved. I suggest you ask the EHD chair to present the written plan for a native plant installation in front of EHD, so that interested stakeholders may see it and discuss it further. It is entirely possible to create a local native plant landscape that yields cut flowers, berries and greens for flower arrangement classes.
The online CCSF employee directory does not show an email address for Mr. Broucaret, so I intend to call him to inform him of my mention of his name in this email.
Member, Sustainability Committee”
“Steven Brown, email address redacted 4/25/2013 3:12 PM
This is absolute harassment and illegal behavior.
Denise Louie has no business interrupting instructors during class times, period. She has done so several times now.
This student doesn’t know anything about what she is talking about. And she does not represent the sustainability committee.
My instructors have all been advised to call the campus police if she interrupts them.
She has been removed from our department in the past and has had instructions not to be here.
I have filled out paper work many times to try to end this harassment.
I had no idea this incident had occurred until now.
I am extremely upset about this and will be looking into hiring an attorney to sue the school for not taking steps to prevent this behavior. This harassment has gone on for three years now!
We have cooperated with the sustainability plan which is a guide. Title five is law, the Ed code is law.
This has to stop”
The Chairman of the Environmental Horticulture & Retail Floristry program is featured in a video about the program on the CCSF website. In that video, he explains that “Horticulture is the decorative use of plants…We teach our students how to use plants in an urban landscape and how to maintain that landscape.” This suggests that students in that program can expect to learn about both native plants and the thousands of species of non-native plants that are planted in our gardens. A horticulture program that uses exclusively native plants would not provide its students with the education they need to be gardeners.
In the 15 years in which we have been engaged in the effort to prevent the destruction of our non-native urban forest we have witnessed and been subjected to harassment from native plant zealots. We have been threatened and accused of wrongdoing of which we are innocent. Therefore, we sympathize with the Chairman of the CCSF horticulture program.
At the same time, we acknowledge that there is a wide range of both opinion and behavior amongst native plant advocates, just as there is a wide range within the community of their critics. We do not wish to paint native plant advocates with a broad brush. We only wish to remind them that such attempts at intimidation do not reflect well on their community.
We received many more comments than usual during the public comment period for the FEMA projects in the East Bay Hills. We posted many of the comments we received from supporters of the project. We did not post comments from those who called us names and/or threatened us. When we refused to post those comments, the threats and name-calling escalated, making it even less likely that we would post their inflammatory comments.
Another theme in the dialogue with native plant advocates, which was repeated by some media coverage of this episode, is their deep state of denial of the strength of the opposition to the destructive projects they demand. They repeatedly portray critics of these projects as a “tiny band” and similar minimizing descriptions.
They are very mistaken. The primary supporter of the FEMA projects, The Claremont Canyon Conservancy, claims in its public comment (available on CCC’s website) to represent 500 families. Yet, the Conservancy’s on-line petition supporting the FEMA projects has less than 500 signatures. In contrast, the petition which criticizes the FEMA projects has over 5,700 signatures. The opposition to these projects has overwhelmed the support, which will surely be reflected in the public comments. As these projects get bigger, greater numbers of trees are in jeopardy, and the devastating consequences are more apparent, the opposition will also get bigger and noisier. We will eventually be heard.