YouTube video

The lot on the northeast corner of Haste and Telegraph has been vacant for more than 20 years. A few weeds grow fitfully, and, as Berkeleyside has reported, rats come out at night.

A group of UC Berkeley students taking the class “American Cyberculture,” taught by Reggie Royston, were asked to select a question posed on the civic website City Sandbox and use social media to galvanize people to act. Lily Lin, who is double majoring in physics and molecular cell biology, decided to explore why the Haste and Telegraph lot was vacant and ask people what they thought should go there.

Lin and other members of her class interviewed long-time Telegraph Avenue storekeepers and vendors, as well as relative newcomers. The result is a 12-minute meditation on the role the vacant lot plays on Telegraph, and what might be achieved by building a park, a memorial, a bar, or even a store there.

“The point of the video is to let people know about the lot and create momentum to get something done, said Lin.

Other members of the group built a website where people can post ideas for the lot. There is also a Facebook page to gather ideas.

Interestingly, neither the video’s narrator nor those interviewed mention the owner of the lot, Ken Sarachan, by name. Lin said this was intentional: she was more interested in exploring what could be done with the space than ascribing blame for its unsightly nature.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...