We are writing bearing much needed good news. Your hard work (see, Highlights below) is beginning to turn the tide, and two proposals that have been submitted are being taken very seriously...we have made significant progress, and we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. While a formal commitment has not yet been made, organizing continues (see the ‘Action’ section below). Thank you all for your continued support...please keep up the good work!
APRIL & MAY HIGHLIGHTS
Letters: We have 1500 support letters and some will be hand-delivered and some will be mailed in phases. Thank you for your letters!
Petition: Over 600 signatures to our online and paper petition, which was launched one week ago. Public supporters include faculty, community members, alumni, and students.
Media: In the last month, we’ve been endorsed, for example, through op-ed pieces by in both the Davis Enterprise and the California Aggie, as well as through several letters to the editor and news articles (see list at the end). Local band Orange Morning wrote a fabulous protest song “Save the Domes” for us, that you can request from KDVS, KVMR or KDRT.
Whole Earth Festival (WEF): WEF staff welcomed the Strengthen the Domes Coalition by inviting us to speak and sing on the main stage during the festival. We shared our message with thousands of people through tabling, performance, and program articles. Thanks WEFies!
Negotiations: Top UCD administrators continue to meet with student activists and local nonprofit Solar Community Housing Association, to discuss their proposal for 3rd party management to keep the community open and a second proposal has been put forward to Academics. Read more on negotations below.
The growing momentum has been well noted within the University community, and the tone of dialogue and internal negotiations has changed dramatically over the past month.
BIG NEWS ON NEGOTIATIONS
Students, alumni, community leaders, and faculty allies continue to hold conversations and meetings with key administrators to push for 1) a 5-year alternative management plan through local nonprofit Solar Community Housing Association (SCHA) and 2) a long term partnership between the Baggins End community and academia that would nurture and strengthen the educational component of this innovative program.
The SCHA proposal is being seriously considered by UCD, and is slowly working its way through the bureaucracy. Although the process is not complete, “red tape” is cutting at an unusually fast pace for the UC.
On April 13th, the SCHA proposal for third party management was presented to administrators. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Fred Wood, who has received many positive letters of support for the Domes, personally walked the SCHA proposal to campus Real Estate Services to ensure that it was given direct attention. A process is now being outlined in which SCHA will be able to offer leases, possibly within two months, pending that the next steps go well.
One of those next steps is an inspection by a third-party engineer which will be performed at the end of this week. The engineer - a Buckminster Fuller fan - will evaluate the potential for localized foam repair and structural integrity. Following the inspection, the scope of proposed work will be defined, legal and risk assessments will be performed, and a draft contract between UCD and SCHA will be presented to the UC Office of the President for review. If all parties are amenable to the terms, the contracts can be signed to lease Baggins End to SCHA, which can in turn offer leases to student residents.
Simultaneously strengthening the position of the Domes is a proposal for a ‘Baggins End Innovative Education and Research Community Program,’ which is being worked on by faculty with multiple Deans on campus. This would provide a support structure for more innovative research projects and educational outreach, many of which have been stagnant within the community’s current relationship with Student Housing. A change in land assignment would be beneficial for both the short-term and long-term planning that is taking place. With the meetings that have already happened, and those that are scheduled within the coming weeks, we could see an official re-assignment of the property within approximately one month.
While the tide is turning, we still need your help...
March to Mrak planned: Students are planning a massive march to Mrak Hall for May 25 to present hundreds of more letters supporting students’ desires to stay on the land. Please come, bring beautiful posters & art, and join in this public show of support!
Letters still needed! The university still has not made a public statement that they won’t destroy the domes. We need you to write and demand that they make a commitment to keep students on the land. Drafted letters here: www.bagginsend.org
Contact your local representative to state government and ask them to put pressure on UC Davis to preserve the domes. The Domes is a treasure for all Californians.
We have reason to hope that the UCD administration is changing their plans about what to do with Baggins End. While there has been a tangible shift towards achieving our goals, this progress could also be jeopardized. We need your help to keep up the positive momentum. .
Please -- write a letter, make a donation to the Domes through SCHA, and/or come to our rally on the 25th! Keep the energy positive! Thank you!
Websites about the Domes:
Links to recent media:
Three articles in the Whole Earth Festival Program pages 19 - 21: http://wef.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/WEF_Program_2011.pdf
Green Living Award to People who used to live at the Domes:
Some words from UCD Faculty...
Ryan Galt: “The Domes are a unique resource on the UC Davis campus where a vibrant community dedicated to ecological consciousness, creativity, and democratic citizenship has emerged. The future relationship between the Domes and the university could be very bright — by building on its current strengths, it can be reinforced as a hub for innovative learning around new research and courses oriented toward sustainability.”
Stephen Wheeler: “I believe it's important for an institution like UCD to allow alternative communities to exist on its campus, especially one like this that promotes much-needed sustainability values. There is so much under-used land on the UCD campus that need for the space can't be a legitimate issue.... and it's hard to see why the University shouldn't be able to maintain the existing buildings just like any others. I urge the Chancellor and other officials to allow the domes to continue.”
Thomas P Tomich: “The Domes community is a unique and highly relevant partner as we develop our various sustainability initiatives at UC Davis, including the proposed Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major, the Student Farm at UC Davis, the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, and the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.”
Jonathan London: “As a professor and practitioner of Community Development, I view the Domes as an important part of the experiential learning and community innovation at UC Davis. It would be a great loss, both to the current and future residents of the Domes, and to the unique identity of UC Davis as a Land Grant institution, to allow the destruction of this bold experiment in collaborative and green living. Please reconsider the decision to close the Domes and reframe this as an opportunity for UC Davis to reinvest in a critical element of the university's physical and pedagogical infrastructure.”