Mak Roote is a collaborative installation by John and Poet Betsy Davids. A combination of paint and poetry wedded to architecture visually defines the Berkeley Transit Plaza, an area located under University Avenue between Fourth Street and the train tracks. All Aboard!
Train Platform Mural—Passengers include Bishop Berkeley, Spanish Explorer de Anza, Writer Chiori Santiago, Wavy Gravy, the brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and members of the Brennan family in historical guise.
“mak roote ‘innutka hui_i_tak” is the phrase written in chochenyo on the back wall. Translated it says “Follow our road to the future”. The Huchiun Ohlone lived here on this convergence of Strawberry Creek and the Bay Shoreline more than 3000 years ago. Today, their descendants shop on nearby Fourth Street in Berkeley. Overhead traffic passes – supported by these inscribed beams, and behind us Amtrak trains bearing rail passengers and freight trains carrying goods from China whistle down the steel rails. The noise stops conversation.
The Poem on the beams is by Betsy Davids, written for this place and time. It is about the journey, arrival, and departure. We are looking east, and in red letters on split pea background the words read:
HERE YOU ARE WHERE BEACH WAS
WHERE ANCIENT PEDESTRIANS
GATHERED OYSTERS AND ACORNS
WHERE TRACKS CROSS SHELLMOUNDS
WHERE HIDDEN CREEKS AND FREEWAYS FLOW
Stepping off the train from another town takes you back in time. You can also catch the bus in the present day or walk over to Brennan’s in its new location that used to be the train station. They tore the old building down and replaced it with housing, but that’s another chapter in this story.
At the end of this journey you will find CW Dellums, Chiori Santiago, Juan Bautista De Anza, various anonymous figures, unidentified train conductor, Barney and Margret Wade, Bishop Berkeley, and Wavy Gravy.
Looking west, the poem reads:
BYE BYE FOG SEE YOU LATER
TELL THE EGRETS WAIT FOR ME
GIVE MY LOVE TO SHORELINE BREEZES
SO LONG OCEAN VIEW
WE’LL BE BACK BESIDE THE BAY
SURE AS TIDES AND SUNSET
— Poem by Betsy Davids
View this mural in-depth on YouTube: Mak Roote