One Year Later: Why and How We Resist

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[compiled by Yoshika Crider and Emma Tome, ERG graduate students]

The Energy & Resources Group is by no means a homogenous space -- methodologically, ideologically, disciplinary -- but we are united by our commitment to asking and answering questions that are consequential to more than the academic world alone.

In recent months, politically-motivated events have impacted life at Berkeley, disrupting a place we call home. We asked ERGies how they engage with the world through or outside of the university, why, and to what ends. Here’s a brief glimpse into Life@ERG.

Starting a conversation

After the election in November 2016, the ERG space became a setting for many conversations about the difficult politics that affect our community, our work, and our daily lives. One of our department tea times became a brainstorm session for what we could do.

Raising money for causes we care about

“This is a picture of germinating Zinnia seeds in preparation for the sale, a variety called ‘Cut and Come Again.’ Seemed appropriate.”

“Several of us at ERG have been dismayed by the increasing "othering" and xenophobia that's been exacerbated and further legitimized in our current political climate. One of our small acts of resistance and peace in the face of all this was to grow lots of baby plants this spring, with the intention of donating all the profits to organizations working for social or environmental justice. On Mother's Day, we had a plant sale and bake sale in North Oakland, with hundreds of veggie and flower starts and a table full of cookies and brownies and other delicacies. We told everyone to pay whatever they wanted for the plants and baked goods -- honestly, just a day of community gathering to talk about gardening and eat tasty snacks together felt good. So it was a really nice surprise to see that we raised $1290 (!) at the sale, which we decided to donate to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. For me, the daily ritual of watching seeds germinate and unfurl, watering baby plants, and observing them grow was a good antidote to the the news, a meditation to keep grounded and a reminder to do the best I can, now.” (ERGie Sasha Harris-Lovett)

“This is the group of women in a group called ‘PMS - Post March Salon.’ We've been meeting monthly to discuss resistance activities, and we had our first fundraiser last month for a Democratic nominee in a flippable district in Southern California.” (ERGie Gauthami Penakalapati, pictured far right)

Volunteering our time

“I’m attaching a pic of the volunteer training day of Surf City Project. SCP takes undeserved youth in the surrounding area surfing, and shares values related to respect for the environment, healthy living, and personal growth.”

"I’m thankful for the times we are living in. I have taken a look at myself and how I live, and decided to keep changing. Where I put my money, what food I eat, how I spend my time, what I learn, how I share what I have, how I give to where I’m from and where I live. If Trump and his posse hadn’t won I would still be living in my old-fashioned ways. How would people living 30 years from now wish we had lived? What decisions do they wish we had made? Are we living in the past, or shaping the future? To keep going, one must stay ahead of the times." (ERGie Diego Ponce de Leon)

Attending marches and rallies
ERGie Noah Kittner at the Washington, D.C., March for Science

ERGies Peter Worley, Gordon Bauer, Yoshika Crider, Seigi Karasaki, Veronica Jacome, Sophie Major, Samira Siddique, and Emma Tome at the Bay Area Rally for Peace on August 27, 2017.

“After the first Milo Yiannopoulos protests in February, friends from opposite sides of the political spectrum made very different claims about what had happened, each narrative portraying a very different picture of the Berkeley community. Who punched who? How much property damage was really done, and by whom? I had my own thoughts and opinions, but ultimately I couldn't give any more of an objective account, because I hadn't been there, either. I was across the street at an ERG Chinese New Year celebration, and had been thinking of going to the protests after, but then some friends who had been there started coming in looking scared, and I decided to stay away. In late August, in response to yet another far-right rally planned for downtown Berkeley, a broad coalition of groups organized a rally called Berkeley Unites Against Hate. In the week leading up to the event, I got a flurry of  emails from administration at both UC Berkeley and  Lawrence Berkeley National Lab telling me to stay home. But this time, I knew I had to be there, if only so I could say definitively what happened.  As it turned out, the event was beautiful--bouncing music, inspiring speeches, and good friends smiling in the California sun. There were 7,000 peaceful protesters there, and together we made a strong statement about what Berkeley stands for. The headlines that day focused on the four people who were arrested when a fight broke out, but I know what the event was really about: solidarity, community, and resistance.” (ERGie Gordon Bauer)

The Bay Area Rally for Peace, August 27, 2017 (Photo by ERGie Gordon Bauer)

Women's March, January 21, 2017 (photo by ERGie Gauthami Penakalapati)

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