Joan Baez Climbs Tree, Decides to Stay Awhile
Fri, 26 May 2006 08:58:13
Joan Baez Photos
Famed folk singer Joan Baez has moved to South Central Los Angeles, original stomping grounds of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, the Bloods, the Crips…and the South Central Farm, a 14-acre slice of agricultural heaven for approximately 350 inner-city farmers, who each govern a little patch of land.
Baez, 65, has joined a collection of other notable activists at the South Central Farm in the hopes that the additional attention can ward off a full eviction. The farm's option to purchase the property has expired, and a nonprofit group attempting to acquire the land on the farm's behalf has come up well short of the purchasing price -- which is set at $16.35 million by owner Ralph Horowitz.
Baez set up an overnight camp on a small platform in a big walnut tree, and treated farmers and reporters to a series of folk songs, including a Spanish-language rendition of "We Shall Overcome." In the morning, she reported that she had a refreshing night's sleep in her makeshift treehouse, and hadn't even been disturbed by the nearby freight trains rumbling past.
Julia "Butterfly" Hill and John Quigley, who both became famous (at least in environmental circles) by doing some serious hard time as treesitters, joined Baez, as did Darryl Hannah, Laura Dern and Ben Harper. The land dispute has been going on for an extended period of time, but the arrival of some star power has put the farm on the media's map.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has urged Horowitz to trim his asking price, and his office has assisted some farmers in finding new pieces of land to work.
--The ARTISTdirect Staff