Mission Peak Parking Lot Calls for Student Attention

By Staff Writers Evie Sun & Helen Wang

The East Bay Regional Park District’s Board of Directors approved a new Mission Peak parking lot with a 7-0 vote on Sept. 20, 2016. The 300-space parking lot is set to be complete in the early 2020s and will provide increased access to the popular hiking spot. However, the Chochenyo Ohlone tribe has pointed out that Chochenyo and Tamyen Ohlone cultural sites are located where the parking lot is set to be built.

Mission Peak is a well-known landmark in our community. Unfortunately, the immense popularity of Mission Peak has been hurting the Ohlone tribes. Ohlone elder Ruth Orta of Newark said to the East Bay Express, “I and my family do not want anything built here. This is our sacred place in this part of the world.”

The lack of media coverage on the new Mission Peak parking lot is shocking in light of protests such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). We share posts on social media pages supporting one protest after another with pride, but, ironically, we have turned a blind eye to currently one of the community’s most pressing issues.

This construction hardly differs from the highly publicized construction of the DAPL in North Dakota. Both the Mission Peak Parking Lot and the DAPL involve the infringing of sacred ground and burial sites with large commercial locations. However, news articles concerning the new local parking lot garner little to no attention, and the ones that end up on social media are simply waved to the side, with no further action. We are often so caught up in the trending topics that we forget to re-shift our focus to the events that impact us locally.

We have become consumed by social media platforms, liking and sharing the posts of protests that have already been heavily publicized. Due to the theory of Mob Mentality, we find it easier to join largely-supported causes such as the DAPL protest. We would rather take a stand for widespread causes because we are backed by a large group of like-minded supporters. On the other hand, when taking a stand for lesser-known events, we often need to take the initiative to start a movement on our own. Therefore, we often fail to apply the morals present in widely-broadcasted protests to local issues, and instead paint a public image of being an advocate through our use of social media. Without recognition for our achievements, we lack the incentive to take a stand on community issues. In addition, simply sharing a link is much easier than taking a stand through telephone calls, organizing protests, or directly promoting publicity in our community. As Chochenyo Ohlone community leader Corrina Gould said to the East Bay Express, “East Bay Regional Parks needs to listen to the first stewards of this land, the Ohlone people,” and as students of a larger community, we must do our part to aid them in their efforts.

Rather than diverting our attention to causes that have already garnered support, we need to address our local problems and take a stand against them. This entails including local news events in our everyday news sources. Instead of letting the information come to us through social media, we need to go out and seek it. It is quite disappointing that we, as a community that prides ourselves on our acceptance of various cultures and races, has failed to acknowledge this event. We need to make the effort to stand up for not only large public causes, but also for local ones.

Photo by nytimes.com

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