Bluhon Group | Deescalating Conflict in the Trees

Deescalating Conflict in the Trees

Sectors: 
Client: 
U.C. Berkeley, Office of the Vice Chancellor

Challenge

Environmental activists and community members opposed plans to displace a portion of  a an oak grove at the foot of U.C. Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium for construction of a high performance athletic facility. Activists — unaffiliated with an organization — occupied several trees for over two years delaying the university’s construction start. The Office of the Vice Chancellor retained Bluhon Group to seek a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

Approach

Mr. Bluhon conducted a “single-text” dialogue between tree-sit representatives and a team of university team consisting of the vice chancellor, deputy police chief, head of public affairs, and a representative from planning. Chancellor. The text emerged as a single point of discussion about values, goals, and potential options for resolution from the perspective of the university and activists. Bluhon met on a daily basis with the activists and the university to reduce tensions, clarify areas of incorrect project information, and consider long-term options for cooperation.

Outcome

Tensions settled and the stand off ended peacefully without injury or violence. The facility was completed and commissioned in 2012.