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The following is a description of the film “Unconquering the Last Frontier” from RL | A and filmmaker Robert Lundahl, and a proposal for it’s restoration and remake, including printing to archival digital 4K with audio remix, and picture re-edit from original source materials/preparation for presentation to new audiences.

©2015 Unconquering the Last Frontier, Robert Lundahl & Associates.

Klallam_Dancers
 

Background

Unconquering the Last Frontier is the Epic Story of the Damming and Undamming of the Elwha River. We began filming in 1993 in Port Angeles, Washington. Production continued for five years, through 1997. We began documenting the efforts of the tribal community and others, to preserve the genetics of the last wild salmon while the political drama over funding, related to Elwha dam revival, played out at the federal level. The process of making this film created a solid perspective, showing both sides of the issue in great depth. The narrative is revealing of the larger scope of need for preserving the what we have left of our nation’s wild places. We saw the benefit of redeeming a river, by removing the harness of misguided, industrial encroachment constricting the life flow within that dynamic body of water.

The film was released, during special screenings in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Western Washington, to public television stations and to cable (Free Speech TV). A companion fine art photo exhibit, from photography commissioned by the NPS, was created and displayed in California and Washington. 2000-2004.

Patagonia headquarters, Ventura, CA, BC Space Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA, Seed Gallery, Thoreau Center for Sustainability, San Francisco, Odd Art Gallery, Port Angeles, WA.

The film itself was shot traditionally, using crystal-sync double-system. Eastman Kodak 16mm color negative film was exposed through a French made Eclair ACL 1.5 camera. Audio was mastered on quarter inch reel-to-reel magnetic tape, using the eponymously named, industry standard stereo Nagra IVs-tc recorder, modified for center-track timecode.

robert_elwha_before
 
“Shooting on film was a work of art.” Says filmmaker Robert Lundahl. “Certainly editing on a flatbed was a work of art. It helps you see the process differently. It makes a different kind of film.”

A note about production: “Unconquering the Last Frontier” was filmed in 16 mm. Film negative, using a vintage Eclair ACL 1.5. Therefore, the master material is archival by nature. Unconquering was one of the last productions to utilize the celluloid/acetate format, and one of the last films to be printed at San Francisco’s Monaco Labs. “It was a statement,” says Filmmaker, Robert Lundahl. Motion picture film began to be used commonly in the teens, just at the time the dams were built. One of the customers of the power from the dams was Rayonier Mill. Rayonier, in addition to making celluloid compounds for table tennis balls and guitar picks, made materials for movie films, thus helping to launch one of the defining industries of the 20th century. As the era ended, symbolized by the removal of the Elwha River dams, so did the era end for motion picture film.

The Film

“Unconquering the Last Frontier” is the epic story of the damming and undamming of the Elwha River. Washington’s Elwha was known to produce the largest salmon in the lower 48 states. The Elwha Kings were the stuff of fishing legend, Chinook salmon weighed in at up to 100 lbs.

This legendary river was dammed in 1908 and again in 1926, in one of the first examples of non-local capital arriving into frontier environments for industrial based energy development.

Seattle Times writer, Lynda Mapes described Unconquering the Last Frontier as “The history of the entire Pacific Northwest.” It is, in a fundamental sense. When the Elwha Dam was built, the State of Washington had a law on the books, requiring that all dams must be built with fish ladders. But the Elwha River did not have fish ladders. None were possible, given the construction. The dam hung from steep canyon walls, leaving no easy egress for spawning anadromous fish to reach their destination far upstream, once construction was complete. The prime spawning beds far upstream, home to their prehistoric ancestors, were no longer accessible.

The eventual interpretation of the legal remedy was to build a hatchery, done in lieu of a having the legally mandated fish ladders. Thus the Elwha set the unsustainable precedent of the hatchery system in the Pacific Northwest, which in turn, led to the construction of more dams and the subsequent devastation of even more fish runs. In that the hatchery on the Elwha was not successful, the trend led to even greater loss of natural resources.

Salmon runs, having uniquely evolved to match their specific spawning milieus, were choked to extinction by the loss of prime spawning habitat.

canoe_elwha-2 copy
 
The Lower Elwha Klallam Indians made this river their home.

Their oral traditions speak of the people having emerged from the cradle of the river, from the mud. The watershed provided the basis for their sustenance and psychological well-being, providing food sources and offering spiritually important sacred sites. And then, through the Devil’s bargain, the salmon could no longer pass upstream of the dams. Their future was damned. Runs of world class fish were subsequently devastated, the resource utterly ruined in a series of mass die-offs.

They (salmon carcasses) were laid up all over the riverbank.” –Rachel Hagaman, Economic Director, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

The people faced a similar plight. After their ranks had been decimated by smallpox and other European diseases, the Indian people were indiscriminately persecuted by the arriving settlers. They were forced to abide by laws that were unfair and even genocidal to them, such as being forbidden to fish in their usual and accustomed grounds. If an Indian were to be caught fishing, they could be taken to jail, starving conditions aside.

unconquering_title
 
Documentary Filmmaker Robert Lundahl embarked on a decade-long journey in 1993, to tell the story of the Lower Elwha people and the river which had sustained them. His picture, released to theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the Northwest in 2000, is the only film to address the historic trauma befalling the Native people.

This is important because, arguably, the history of events on the Elwha has been subject to political interpretations to this day. Many which marginalize Native people and deny their voice, jeopardizing their cultural and physical survival. UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples sets agreed upon standards which “affirm that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such.” The film represents the clear-eyed understanding, on the ground, that UNDRIP requires.

Future

As the salmon move upstream to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients in their bodies will be returned to the forest along 113 km of wild river. Several hundred thousand salmon will eventually repopulate the river annually, bringing a huge quantity of nutrients that will permeate throughout the ecosystem. Because all of the water above the upper dam is in the Olympic National Park, these ecological changes will be available for long-term study, without the confounding influences of human disturbance that are common in virtually all other river restoration projects. Thus, the Elwha dams, by far the largest ever to be removed, constitute a unique opportunity to study the recovery of a riparian ecosystem, with profound implications for the value of dam removal elsewhere as a general conservation strategy (The University of Washington).

The removal of the concrete structures of the Elwha Dams began in 2012, initiating a profoundly new era in conservation management. Never before had dams this large been removed. Never before had an ecosystem been ameliorated like this, restoring complex interactions and allowing synergistic effects to resume flourishing naturally once again.

Our obligation to the future includes making this watershed picture available to new audiences, as an anthem for restoring balance to the world and a bold idea for preserving hope. When Winona LaDuke invites us to “recover the sacred,” the well known Native American organizer is requesting far more than the rescue of ancient bones and beaded headbands from museums. For LaDuke, only the power to define what is sacred—and access it—will enable Native American communities to remember who they are and fashion their future.

For the Elwha people, recognition that “There was a history of a Changer, up where the dam is,” allowed the Klallam to recover their spiritual and cultural identity.

In the healing of historical trauma, the restoration plays a significant part in returning dignity to the indigenous cohort of our nation’s population, an important social aspect necessary for our growth and development as a modern group of people as we move forward in this challenging puzzle we call Life.

The Changer, or Transformer is a supernatural force or being capable of transforming one species into another, a bear into a deer, or a wolf.


It is not enough to just remove the concrete superstructure from a river, if what is left behind is mere drainage. It’s not enough to just reintroduce salmon populations to a river. We must support the historical narrative, and acknowledge the emotions of a people as we witness the return of a way of life that had once been taken from them. To understand the essence of the Elwha Story, understanding the Klallam and their culture is essential. To understand what the settlers and the dams took away is to begin to understand what the river means to all of us. It is as close as we’ve gotten to redress and reconciliation, which is to say that environmental justice and stewardship are one in the same. The Elwha provides a tangible lesson on both, for the be benefit of people around the world to see and consider.

canoe_elwha-1
 

History

Unconquering the Last Frontier is a work of history. The film relies on original, first person accounts dating to the 1830s. The film is in use educationally by Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, The University of Washington and other top universities. It has been publicly vetted and peer reviewed. Unconquering is in the collection of The Smithsonian/ National Museum of the American Indian.

Unconquering the Last Frontier clarifies the actions of the past through a rigorous examination of historical facts.
Unconquering examines the nature of energy development at that time, as events on the ground played out in context during the early years of the 20th century.
-The film reveals that Native Americans placed logs along the river to help manage flows and fisheries in the mid 1800s.
-That fisheries pressures were not new and the Territories of Oregon and Washington declared emergencies in the 1870’s as the fish were dangerously over harvested.
-The film examines whether the Elwha dams were built legally and whether the dams’ builder, Thomas Aldwell promised to build fish ladders as a condition of their construction.
-Unconquering the Last Frontier describes the relationship between the Elwha Dams and the hatchery system across the Northwest, as a precursor and precedent.
-Unconquering the Last Frontier examines the history as told by the Native people themselves, and their attitudes about it.

DCIM101GOPROPhoto: Tom Roorda
 

The Lesson Plan

It is of global importance, how the story of the restoration of the Elwha River and fisheries came into being be told. To this date, full ecosystem restoration at this scale has occurred only once. We are looking at the prime and only example of large scale remediation to the river ecosystem including the landscape, fisheries, culture, spirit and economy of a Pacific Northwest Region. In restoring the Elwha, we have a pattern for other endeavors and a seed for success. It can be done.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “Ecological restoration is the process of reclaiming habitat and ecosystem functions by restoring the lands and waters on which plants and animals depend. Restoration is a corrective step that involves eliminating or modifying causes of ecological degradation and re-establishing the natural processes — like natural fires, floods, or predator-prey relationships — that sustain and renew ecosystems over time.”

1. It is important to introduce the concept that ecological restoration is worthy of consideration in addressing landscape level issues having to do with water, toxic substances, ecosystem health and the health of people. With regard to the public/private process to restore the Salton Sea, reintroduction of water to the system allows ecosystems to be supported and to become more fecund, making for a cleaner and healthier environment and thus stabilizing the region.

The removal of water from the southern San Joaquin Valley similarly sees soils become salted, non-productive, and subject to conversion from agriculture to energy production (fracking) and other industries. Toxic compounds compile at specific locations, affecting wildlife and avian species and human beings, through blowing dust and particulates. The lesson of the Elwha is “Let nature run its course.”

Unconquering the Last Frontier shows the debate, framing the story of a waterfront mill town as it ponders its future while confronting its past.

2. Show that what happened on the Elwha, for better and for worse, as the result of decisions made by people who affected the outcome. The decision to build the Lower Elwha Dam, which cut off the fishery 4.3 miles upriver, was a decision based on engineering and cost for the specific purpose of generating power at that location. It is important to realize that a myriad of choices were available to the solution of generating power. The location on the Elwha, as a specific site to do that, had an enormous down side.

What some people did not know then about the fragility of the resource became, over time, the top consideration from a policy and cost perspective across the entire Pacific Northwest region. It would be fair to say, in addition to questions about legality, morality, and philosophy, that questions still remain about the engineering decisions made.

Too often our society solves a problem having to do with financial benefits accruing. Yet, had the “engineering” solution been better focused on generating power at less cost and detriment overall, the solution might have been entirely different.

How we think about the context of our actions is critical to their outcome. In this way, we begin to account for the likelihood of unintended consequences in the design/engineering process itself.

If an analysis of context and consequences was inadequate in the beginning, we may be assured we will eventually be looking at GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). As simple as this idea sounds, we still are faced with the same scale of poor outcomes, made by decisions mandated by financial incentives, without weighing the true costs. We build solar generation plants in dry lake beds, atop prehistoric Native American ruins, and accept renewable energy installations that require burning fossil fuels- natural gas, to maintain output, making them not renewable at all.

Even today, these costly errors are still committed. We have not learned yet, despite a desperate need to embrace a more intelligent way of being on the planet without wrecking the ecology.

3. Connect the dots, by shooting and adding footage, between the ongoing biodiversity research and the debate, which occurred in 1996, about the destruction of the ecosystem itself. Connecting the dots via a side-by-side demonstration of the restored meander of the lower river with the reconstitution of the estuary, compared to then and now aerial photography, filmmaking, etc. Connect the dots by interviewing tribal members about the meaning of “recover the sacred.” Interviews with select individuals from the original film, including the filmmakers, round out the perspective related to the full spectrum of happenings stimulated by this bold and historic undertaking.
 


 
elwha composite
 


24May

29 Screening

 
screening


 
“WHO’S PAYING FOR THIS?” Script 3.8. Written By Robert Lundahl 415.205.3481

CUT TO: HISTORIC SCENES, BAY DELTA FARMING.
DISSOLVE TO: SERIES OF CUTS: TUNNEL PROJECT RENDERINGS. FRACKING WELLS, PROTESTERS HOLD NO FRACKING SIGNS. LAWNS BEING WATERED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

NARRATOR: Governor Brown’s proposed $60+ billion twin-tunnel project would divert water from The Bay/Delta Estuary, from salmon fisheries and recreational activites, from productive family farms, and diversified agriculture, to land speculation in Riverside County, to BIG AG. What does that mean for you?

DISSOLVE TO: SHOTS OF DOWNTOWN LA, VALLEY NEIGHBORHOODS SMOG, GAS STATIONS

NARRATOR: Because of conservation measures, Los Angeles uses the same amount of water it did 20 years ago. Now with the money going to the latest pipe dream, there may be no money to invest in local infrastructure, such as water reuse and recycling. Rainwater capture and conservation education.

With a 60 Billion dollar price tag, the costs are ASTRONOMICAL to all of California.

CUT TO: HISTORIC SCENES, BIG DIG. BAY BRIDGE RETROFIT

NARRATOR: Bigger than the Big Dig.
GRAPHIC: 24 BILLION.

NARRATOR: Bigger than the Bay Bridge retrofit.
GRAPHIC: 250 MILLION.

DISSOLVE TO: SERIES OF CUTS: WATER IN THE CANALS HEADING SOUTH.
CUT TO: DRY LAWNS, DRY HILLS, NEWSPAPERS DESCRIBE WATER USE CUTS.

NARRATOR: Currently, millions of gallons of water from the state water project — that rate- payers have already paid for — go to the highest bidder. Big Business.

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION. BACKGROUND IMAGE – MONEY PILES UP (STOCK ANIMATION)
YOUNG MAN STANDS BEFORE CAMERA.

NARRATOR: Four years into the worst drought in the state’s recorded history, the state’s residents are scared.

STAND UP INTERVIEW WITH YOUNG MAN: “Who’s going to pay for this? What’s my future? Leave the state? This is a total scam.”

STAND UP INTERVIEW WITH OLDER WOMAN: “The California Dream is O-V-E-R if Brown gets his way.

RELAXED DISSOLVE – TO MONTAGE SCENES OF WATER FLOWING THROUGH TRIBUTARIES AND ALONG THE BANKS OF THE SACRAMENTO, DELTA WETLANDS, BIRDS, FISHING.

NARRATOR: The Sacramento/San Joaquin Bay Delta is where BIG AG wants to get its water. A vast river and marine estuary system for the entire San Francisco Bay Area Region, and the State of California.

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION.

MONTAGE BIG AG, OIL AND GAS WELLS BAKERSFIELD, HORIZONS JAMMED WITH WELLS, DIRTY PARTS OF THE SAN JOAQUIN, INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPES, CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS, HYDROCARBONS

NARRATOR: Not only does BIG AG take clean water, and mix it with 750 toxic chemicals, many of them carcinogens, it sends that dirty water deep underground to break rock for oil and gas production. It’s called fracking.

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION.

MONTAGE: BIG AG Scenes.

NARRATOR: Central Valley agribusiness leases land to oil companies. These farmers-for-hire do their bidding. BIG AG works for BIG OIL. They’re not going to report a spill, unless they have to.

At a time when voters expect innovative solutions. This administration sticks to the same ‘ol same ‘ol. Contracts to cronies and big business.

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION. BACKGROUND, CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS, HYDROCARBONS.

NARRATOR: When the farms lands don’t drain, and the San Joaquin Valley salts up, it can no longer be farmed. How much of its water will be used for speculative development?

Reports indicate that farmers are already irrigating with oil and fracking waste water. Why are we paying to pollute?

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION.

TRANSITION – FLIP OR PAGE TURN – SHOTS GOVERNOR BROWN WITH OIL AND GAS EXECS, DOLLAR SIGNS DANCING, FAT CATS LIGHTING CIGARS, WILDLIFE RUNNING FOR COVER.

MUSIC UP: PUNK COVER OF CALIFORNIA DREAMING

NARRATOR: And the tunnel scam project that’s behind it has costs of its own: The 2013 Report on Affordability and Financing for the Bay Delta Conservation says $60 million or more. And THAT no longer includes a habitat conservation plan – meaning not just humans will pay the price. Series of cuts of pictures of native fauna. Cute animals.

MUSIC: PUNK COVER OF “CALIFORNIA DREAMING” EVOLVES INTO DISHARMONY, DISCORD, THEN POPS, CRACKLES, DROPOUTS AND FINALLY NOTHING.

CUT TO: STAND UP INTERVIEW YOUNG WOMAN
“They’re getting water very, very cheaply and they’re taking water away from farms.”

CUT TO: STAND UP INTERVIEW OLDER MAN
“In a time of water catastrophe, California is prioritizing unsustainable solutions over sustainable ones, like diversified farming in the Delta.”

NARRATOR: Who’s paying for this?

CUT TO: Ordinary homes on a residential street with a moon overhead.

SFX UP: CRICKETS.

OLDER WOMAN’S VOICE IS HEARD: This… is a nightmare.

SLOW FADE TO BLACK.

###


 
“Go With the Flow” Written By Robert Lundahl 415.205.3481

FADE IN:

CU/WATER DRIPPING FROM A FAUCET
CUT TO: MS/PERSON BEHIND CLOUDY GLASS IN THE SHOWER

NARRATOR OLDER FEMALE: Your health, your family’s health and the health of all Californians depends on clean water.

DISSOLVE TO:

SERIES OF CUTS: GLASS OF WATER SET DOWN ON A KITCHEN TABLE. ASPARAGUS OR OTHER DELTA AG IN THE FIELD WITH DEW DROPS.

CUT TO: CU SHOT OF WATER SKIER OR DELTA RECREATION
AND/OR… CUT TO: SF BAY WINDSURFER

NARRATOR: The water we drink, the food we eat, and the fun we have all depend on clean water.

CUT TO: RESTAURANT INTERIOR/WAITER WITH WATER GLASSES. CHIP FAB ENGINEER IN CLEAN SUIT.

NARRATOR: Our jobs depend on it too.

DISSOLVE TO: VAST AERIAL SHOTS DELTA, FLYOVERS. USGS MAP OF SAN FRANCISCO BAY (PUSH IN).

NARRATOR: The Sacramento/San Joaquin Bay Delta is a vast estuary system for the entire San Francisco Bay Area Region, and the State of California.

RELAXED DISSOLVE – TO MONTAGE SCENES OF WATER FLOWING THROUGH TRIBUTARIES AND ALONG THE BANKS OF THE SACRAMENTO.

NARRATOR: It all comes down to flow.

TRANSITION – FLIP OR PAGE TURN

DISSOLVE SEQUENCE WITH MATCHED PUSH INS CHEMICAL FACTORIES, AGRIBUSINESS, PUMPING STATIONS, CANALS, FREEWAYS, LANDFILLS, SIGN – NO DUMPING, RUNS TO BAY, WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT. (NOTE: We can use the Sac treatment plant shot like documentary but we want the rest of these shots outside of the Delta).

NARRATOR: Mercury, Salts, Selenium, Boron, Nitrogens, bacteria, insecticides and other compounds may be found in water, fish and plants because upstream watersheds drain into the Delta.

MONTAGE OF WATER FLOWING, TRICKLING, AROUND OBSTACLES, ROCKS, PIERS, SANDBARS, MARSHES AND WETLANDS.

DISSOLVE TO: MONTAGE KIDS ALONG THE SHORE PLAY WITH SMALL BOATS (STOW LAKE?)/FOR EFFECT, SHORELINE DELTA, KIDS FISHING.

NARRATOR: Toxic soils can leach back into the water. Low water and reduced flow allow mercury mentholated in higher concentrations.

DISSOLVE TO: SEQUENCE OF CUTS. SIGNS, BEACH CLOSURE, NO FISHING, DO NOT EAT FISH. (Note: no fishing signs down by port).

NARRATOR: Water diversion, water sales, and over-pumping reduce the flow — and turn the Delta from a place– that is an interwoven blend of wetland habitat, farms, and communities — a unique ecological and cultural place, to something far less desirable.

DISSOLVE TO: SEQUENCE OF CUTS. BROWN SPEAKING, TUNNELS RENDERING, NEWSPAPER HEADLINE CU PAN, “ALMONDS TO BE SHIPPED TO CHINA” OR SIMILAR. LOS ANGELES SKYLINE.

NARRATOR:

Politicians also get it wrong. Governor Brown’s proposed $25 billion twin-tunnel project would worsen the problem. By diverting excessive amounts of water, the tunnels would both undermine the health of the Delta, the San Francisco Bay, and the ability for cities like Los Angeles to secure their own water future. Water quality will not meet drinking water standards for health and human safety for millions of people living near the Delta and Bay.

DISSOLVE TO: GRASSES/WETLANDS, DISSOLVE TO: MT. SHASTA SCENIC DISSOLVE TO: SIERRA PEAKS. YOSEMITE VALLEY, DISSOLVE TO: AMERICAN RIVER RAPIDS, CUT TO: FLY FISHERMAN, DISSOLVE TO: SHOTS OF THE KERN AND THE SAN JOAQUIN.

NARRATOR: Our San Francisco Bay Delta is a natural wonder. It naturally drains an enormous area from Mt. Shasta to the North, to the Sierras in the East and the South.
Clear water flows from the snowpacks, down the Sacramento and the Feather, the American, and the Kern, and the San Joaquin, the Molkulumne, Calaveras, and Tuolumne.

DISSOLVE TO: SEQUENCE DELTA BEAUTY SHOTS

NARRATOR: This estuary is the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

MONTAGE: KAYAKERS SPILL OVER RAPIDS, SALMON TRAWLER UNLOADS FROZEN CHINOOK ON THE DOCKS AT HALF MOON BAY, CANADIAN GEESE PASS OVERHEAD IN A V FORMATION.
TOURISTS HAVE LUNCH AT BARBARA’S FISH TRAP ON THE WHARF. KIDS RUN AND PLAY ON THE JETTY AND ON THE BEACH.

NARRATOR: The Bay-Delta estuary is a place that connects rivers, ocean and sky. Communities all up and down the Pacific Coast rely on its riches.
Let’s make sure these riches continue to sustain us for generations to come.

FADE OUT.

###


 
“Water is Life” Written By Robert Lundahl 415.205.3481

FADE IN:
AERIAL SHOTS/VAST EXPANSES OF DELTA WATER

NARRATOR OLDER FEMALE: Water is life, And the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta is the provider of that life for the San Francisco Bay region.

DISSOLVE TO:HISTORIC SHOTS OF SALMON ON THE SACRAMENTO/LARGE NUMBERS

NARRATOR: Chinook salmon spawning in the Upper Sacramento River numbered 450,000 in 1950. Water diversion, dams, pollution and habitat destruction reduced those numbers by 9/10 in the years that followed.

TRANSITION, WIPE OR PUSH, SALMON ON A LINE TODAY

NARRATOR OLDER FEMALE: Will we learn the lesson and protect the natural resources we have left?

CUT TO: DROUGHT HEADLINES/NEWSPAPER SPINS

NARRATOR: The California drought, now in its 5th year, has prompted reactive policy initiatives by state leaders, choosing one industry over another, and one community over another in allocating precious water resources.

DISSOLVE TO CLOSE UP PAN, TUNNEL HEADLINES/NEWSPAPER

NARRATOR: But that’s not the way to go.

RELAXED DISSOLVE – TO MONTAGE FISHING BOATS HALF MOON BAY, RESTAURANTS SERVE SEAFOOD, TOURISTS AT FISHERMAN’S WHARF

NARRATOR: Salmon still support coastal fishermen, and the culinary and hospitality businesses of one of America’s top 5 vacation destinations, San Francisco.

TRANSITION – FLIP OR PAGE TURN – DISSOLVE SEQUENCE WINDSURFING, DELTA/FARMING SCENES/APPLE CAMPUS WITH LOGO

NARRATOR: And healthy salmon runs, like recreational industries, diversified family farming, and even Silicon Valley’s world leading chip manufacture and corporate campuses — Apple, Google, Intel and others — depend on clean water, readily available.

DISSOLVE TO: MONTAGE CONTRA COSTA BUSINESSES/COMMUNITIES, SHOPPERS AT AN OUTDOOR MALL

NARRATOR: Millions of people living in urban areas rely on a healthy Delta for drinking water.

SEQUENCE OF CUTS: TOMATOES, FRUITS AND VEGETABLES AT A FARMERS MARKET, HAPPY FACES/RIPPLES ON THE WATER CLOSE UP, SOFT ZOOM IN AND RACK OUT OF FOCUS

NARRATOR: In a time of unprecedented drought, the answer to our collective water needs in a historically dry state, is the very reverence for life and people, and the resources the region has always provided.

DISSOLVE TO: OLD SPANISH MAP, SAN FRANCISCO BAY,

NARRATOR: Covering 612 square miles, the San Francisco Bay/Delta region is the largest estuary on the U.S. Pacific Coast.

DISSOLVE TO: SEQUENCE GRASSES/WETLANDS, HERON OR EGRET

NARRATOR: It is recognized as one of North America’s most ecologically important estuaries, accounting for 77 percent of California’s remaining perennial wetlands.

DISSOLVE TO: SPORTS (BASS) FISHERMEN. (TOURNAMENT).

NARRATOR: Not only fish, like salmon, bass, steelhead, shad and sturgeon make this biological nursery home,

CUT TO: GIANT FLOCKS OF MIGRATING BIRDS BLACKEN THE SKY

NARRATOR: …but so do the myriad avain species of the Pacific Flyway.

DISSOLVE TO: EARLY SHOTS FARMING IN THE DELTA REGION

NARRATOR: During the California Gold Rush, farmers planted orchards on Delta islands

CUT TO: DAGUERROTYPES OF GOLD RUSH MINERS, PUSH/DISSOLVE THROUGH SEQUENCE

NARRATOR: …to provide fresh fruit for mining camps in the Sierra Nevada.

CUT TO: VEGETABLE CRATE LABELS FROM THE 1930’s/40’s, PUSH/DISSOLVE THROUGH SEQUENCE ROADSIDE STANDS

NARRATOR: Because of the year-round availability of fresh water, the Delta became one of the most fertile regions of California.

SPIGOT TURNED OFF, SOD TORN OUT, NATIVE GARDEN PLANTED

NARRATOR: Today, conservation not favoritism is our future.

FADE OUT.

###


 
“WHO’S PAYING FOR THIS?” Script 3.8. Written By Robert Lundahl 415.205.3481

CUT TO: HISTORIC SCENES, BAY DELTA FARMING.
DISSOLVE TO: SERIES OF CUTS: TUNNEL PROJECT RENDERINGS. FRACKING WELLS, PROTESTERS HOLD NO FRACKING SIGNS. LAWNS BEING WATERED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

NARRATOR: Governor Brown’s proposed $60+ billion twin-tunnel project would divert water from The Bay/Delta Estuary, from salmon fisheries and recreational activites, from productive family farms, and diversified agriculture, to land speculation in Riverside County, to BIG AG. What does that mean for you?

DISSOLVE TO: SHOTS OF DOWNTOWN LA, VALLEY NEIGHBORHOODS SMOG, GAS STATIONS

NARRATOR: Because of conservation measures, Los Angeles uses the same amount of water it did 20 years ago. Now with the money going to the latest pipe dream, there may be no money to invest in local infrastructure, such as water reuse and recycling. Rainwater capture and conservation education.

With a 60 Billion dollar price tag, the costs are ASTRONOMICAL to all of California.

CUT TO: HISTORIC SCENES, BIG DIG. BAY BRIDGE RETROFIT

NARRATOR: Bigger than the Big Dig.
GRAPHIC: 24 BILLION.

NARRATOR: Bigger than the Bay Bridge retrofit.
GRAPHIC: 250 MILLION.

DISSOLVE TO: SERIES OF CUTS: WATER IN THE CANALS HEADING SOUTH.
CUT TO: DRY LAWNS, DRY HILLS, NEWSPAPERS DESCRIBE WATER USE CUTS.

NARRATOR: Currently, millions of gallons of water from the state water project — that rate- payers have already paid for — go to the highest bidder. Big Business.

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION. BACKGROUND IMAGE – MONEY PILES UP (STOCK ANIMATION)
YOUNG MAN STANDS BEFORE CAMERA.

NARRATOR: Four years into the worst drought in the state’s recorded history, the state’s residents are scared.

STAND UP INTERVIEW WITH YOUNG MAN: “Who’s going to pay for this? What’s my future? Leave the state? This is a total scam.”

STAND UP INTERVIEW WITH OLDER WOMAN: “The California Dream is O-V-E-R if Brown gets his way.

RELAXED DISSOLVE – TO MONTAGE SCENES OF WATER FLOWING THROUGH TRIBUTARIES AND ALONG THE BANKS OF THE SACRAMENTO, DELTA WETLANDS, BIRDS, FISHING.

NARRATOR: The Sacramento/San Joaquin Bay Delta is where BIG AG wants to get its water. A vast river and marine estuary system for the entire San Francisco Bay Area Region, and the State of California.

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION.

MONTAGE BIG AG, OIL AND GAS WELLS BAKERSFIELD, HORIZONS JAMMED WITH WELLS, DIRTY PARTS OF THE SAN JOAQUIN, INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPES, CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS, HYDROCARBONS

NARRATOR: Not only does BIG AG take clean water, and mix it with 750 toxic chemicals, many of them carcinogens, it sends that dirty water deep underground to break rock for oil and gas production. It’s called fracking.

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION.

MONTAGE: BIG AG Scenes.

NARRATOR: Central Valley agribusiness leases land to oil companies. These farmers-for-hire do their bidding. BIG AG works for BIG OIL. They’re not going to report a spill, unless they have to.

At a time when voters expect innovative solutions. This administration sticks to the same ‘ol same ‘ol. Contracts to cronys and big business.

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION. BACKGROUND, CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS, HYDROCARBONS.

NARRATOR: When the farms lands don’t drain, and the San Joaquin Valley salts up, it can no longer be farmed. How much of its water will be used for speculative development?
Reports indicate that farmers are already irrigating with oil and fracking waste water. Why are we paying to pollute?

GRAPHIC: 60 BILLION.

TRANSITION – FLIP OR PAGE TURN – SHOTS GOVERNOR BROWN WITH OIL AND GAS EXECS, DOLLAR SIGNS DANCING, FAT CATS LIGHTING CIGARS, WILDLIFE RUNNING FOR COVER.

MUSIC UP: PUNK COVER OF CALIFORNIA DREAMING

NARRATOR: And the tunnel scam project that’s behind it has costs of its own: The 2013 Report on Affordability and Financing for the Bay Delta Conservation says $60 million or more. And THAT no longer includes a habitat conservation plan – meaning not just humans will pay the price. Series of cuts of pictures of native fauna. Cute animals.

MUSIC: PUNK COVER OF “CALIFORNIA DREAMING” EVOLVES INTO DISHARMONY, DISCORD, THEN POPS, CRACKLES, DROPOUTS AND FINALLY NOTHING.

CUT TO: STAND UP INTERVIEW YOUNG WOMAN
“They’re getting water very, very cheaply and they’re taking water away from farms.”

CUT TO: STAND UP INTERVIEW OLDER MAN
“In a time of water catastrophe, California is prioritizing unsustainable solutions over sustainable ones, like diversified farming in the Delta.”

NARRATOR: Who’s paying for this?

CUT TO: Ordinary homes on a residential street with a moon overhead.

SFX UP: CRICKETS.

OLDER WOMAN’S VOICE IS HEARD: This… is a nightmare.

SLOW FADE TO BLACK.

###


 
Journalism and Communications are Distant (Yet Kissing) Cousins

By Robert Lundahl

“I think the trick is that you have to use words well enough so that these nickel-and-dimers who come around bitching about being objective or the advertisers don’t like it are rendered helpless by the fact that it’s good. That’s the way people have triumphed over conventional wisdom in journalism.”

Hunter S. Thompson — from a 1997 interview with The Atlantic “

If you want to be a journalist, there are no holds barred, not in writing, nor thinking, nor anything else. That point was proved in searching for a quote by the late Hunter S. Thompson, with which to begin this article.

Most left me howling, all were unprintable here, in a different time.

In this time, I had embarked on a journalistic enterprise, taking a blog, The ECOreport and attempting to lift it out of the muck of the blog-o-sphere, “to rake that muck somewhere else.” The story can be placed atop the embers in the place where they burn the books and Boy Scouts sing Kum-ba-ya around the campfire.

Corporate Communications and Journalism are two very different things. The later involves lying down in front of the bulldozers of life, and the former, clarifying word choices, and creating “action speech,” so as to eliminate or greatly reduce the capacity for chaos by the human race.

“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively … For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order, if you don’t lie to yourself and use the wrong words.”

Hunter S. Thompson — from a letter to Larry Callen, July, 14, 1958 (found in the collection of his early letter, “The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman)”

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Sadly, one thing these two “Kissing Cousins” share is that most corporate communications do not, and similarly, most journalism is not. To investigate more fully, we may identify what the two should have in common, starting with the basics.

Journalism has been compromised of late by social media and blogging. I shall not write the thesis here as it has been already written one or two thousand times. Instead I will retreat to the grammarian tendencies of my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Henze, who could be a kindhearted scold.

He would want me to tell you that both Corporate Communications and Journalism depend on what is known as the “Inverted Pyramid.” The Inverted Pyramid clarifies information for the reader, or viewer (in a multi-media environment), or for that matter in a campaign.

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The trick is dealing with complexity. In the days since Dr. Thompson roamed the floor of Caesar’s Palace during the Mint 400, our world has become infinitely more complex. What would the good doctor think if he were then told that one day (today) there would be over 938,000,000 live websites (see http://www.internetlivestats.com/total-number-of-websites/).

Whether this statistic indicates there is a lot of “writing”, or simply a lot of data may be a matter of debate. What there is, is a lot of competition for your time, dear reader.

Corporate Communications, which most often include web-based elements, must rely on the Inverted Pyramid Style to be able to deliver content that is comprehensible and retain-able, period. Journalism similarly must have a point. If the readers do not get a glimpse of why you are writing the material you expect them to read, you are quite simply, a blogger. The unexamined writing is not worth reading.

Recently our team conducted a market research survey on corporate communications strategies and opportunities in non-profit and for-profit sectors. It was found to be most common that writing begins in the middle of the Pyramid, with little introduction to top level facts, then wanders around in there for a while, and ends at the beginning.

Secondly, another habit corporate communications will often demonstrate is the use of a website as a “dumping ground.” Even sophisticated organizations populated by Ph.D.s, collect their informational artifacts and seemingly drop them into a website template without considering what journalistic publications have known since the days of LIFE and LOOK, layout.

Layout is the hierarchical ordering in a two dimensional space of story elements, vital to understanding the brand and the articulation of the brand. What we care about. How we spend our time, and why it is, you, the customer should care.

What Journalism offers Corporate Communications, too, is relevancy, critical judgement, and comparative analysis. All are vital tools for telling a story and saving space (web real estate), while doing it. These are the components of modern narrative.


Martin Collins, Regional Planner with British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Commission defends fracking as beneficial to livestock and farming.

Sites in the US are known to use as many as 750 chemical additives, many of which are carcinogens

Written by Robert Lundahl, Produced by Robert Lundahl. Originally published in TheECOReport.com.

Part III of The ECOReport/planet rl a Earth Day Investigative Special Report on the Water/Energy Nexus.

Martin Collins, Executive Director of the Agricultural Lands Commission was surprisingly talkative, for someone directly answerable to British Columbia’s Cabinet. Though his superiors, the Chair and six Vice Chairs of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), were all appointed by Cabinet or the Ministry of Agriculture, the ALC ostensibly operates as an independent tribunal.

According to the ALC Annual Report 2009/10 the mission of the ALC is as follows: The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is the provincial agency responsible for administering the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), a provincial land use zone for agriculture. The purposes of the ALC as set out in legislation are:
(a) to preserve agricultural land;
(b) to encourage farming on agricultural land in collaboration with other communities of interest;
and (c) to encourage local governments, First Nations, the government and its agents to enable and accommodate farm use of agricultural land and uses compatible with agriculture in their plans, bylaws and policies.

But this “independence” is convenient for his superiors. Collins was set up, as was the ALC, in a remarkable “responsibility dodge” under the most dire of circumstances, following revelations of the severity of the California drought.

A Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson recently informed the ECOreport that the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) makes the decisions regarding land zoned for agricultural use. “The ALC is an administrative tribunal – arm’s length from government – and government does not interfere in that independent decision-making process.” He did not mention the fact two weeks prior to our interview, the Cabinet of British Columbia removed land from the ALC — and from agricultural use — for the Site C Dam flooding. Collins said it wasn’t the only time, it had happened three times, in fact, that ALC decisions were intercepted or overridden by the Provincial government.

In his “day job,” Collins is the Regional Planner for the Okanagan, Interior and Northeast regions. Everything about the self professed “paper pusher’s” voice and mannerisms, suggests he would like to be transparent, but Collins is caught in a closing vice between disingenuous government officials practicing a unique and charm-free version of Canadian “double speak,” and the world’s energy producers, hell-bent on fracking British Columbia’s last best agricultural resources and opportunities for food security.

Government officials don’t much care if Collins is squeezed by the avarice of deception on one side and “sector collapse” on the other, as the North American economy spills millions of people into potential deprivation. No water, no food.

Legitimate Issues

The debate over liquid natural gas and fracking practices is ongoing throughout much of North America. The headlines tell the story: “Dead Calves and Hairless Puppies” from Pennsylvania, “Fracking with Our Food” from New York, and from BC, “Toxic Fracking Waste, Illegally Dumped into BC Water Treatment System.”

Dr Allan Hoffman, a former Senior Analyst with the US Department of Energy, believes that with proper regulation and enforcement the number of incidents COULD be reduced to an “acceptable” level. He also admits this is not being done. And what level of toxic compounds, carcinogenic in parts per million (ppm) and parts per billion (ppb), would be “acceptable?”.

Think dioxin, agent orange, DDT. Shouldn’t we let history be our guide? Now it’s Benzine, Acetone, Ammonia, Formaldehyde, Hydrochloric Acid.

Industry and government have only belatedly protected citizens in the past, and the Christy Clark government is giving a good run at becoming the worst and most offensive betrayer of public confidence in the history of the North American continent. Even Nixon didn’t mess with our food. This administration, in response to the California drought, the astonishing undeniable evidence of which is virtually NO SNOWPACK, who, in a province just up the freeway, where Safeway trucks drop their bounty in Vancouver warehouses, and which will shortly produce only 5 percent of it’s food, decides to frack and flood its last best agricultural lands. Where are the criminal indictments?

This kind of analysis does not appear to be taking place within the BC government. Premier Clark has been described as a cheerleader for the liquid natural gas (fracking) industry.

Thus it is refreshing to hear Collins say, “There’s a tension between the Ag(ricultural) industry and Oil and Gas extraction.

But Collins then turns about face faster than a “Whirling Dervish. He continues, “but they also compliment each other. Some farmers make incomes not only from having installations on their property, they actually work for the Oil and Gas industry.”

Continuing Medical Education (CME) Activity Jointly Sponsored by Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy and the Medical Society of the State of New York (Below).

That’s reassuring. The future of health, safety and food security in British Columbia is in the hands of farmers who work for the Oil and Gas industry.

Collins listed the “legitimate issues.” Gas operations disrupt field patterns and their are issues of access to fields. There is an issue of animal health sometimes. Really? Like “Dead Calves and Hairless Puppies?” Pass the lettuce, please.


Photo Credit: A fracking wastewater storage site located on the Farrell Creek road between Fort St John and Hudson’s Hope, BC. Note the “no smoking” sign! – Credit: Joe Foy, Wilderness Committee.

“Industry spokespeople are quick to point out that hydraulic fracturing has been around for years. Fracking – some prefer to call it “fracing” – was first practiced in Canada in the 1950s and decades earlier in the US. Over the past 20 years, however, something entirely new has become the norm: “Multistage, horizontal fracking” using a cocktail of chemicals to flush out stubborn oil and gas deposits.

… All this drilling and fracking generates lots of noise and occasionally earth tremors. Most critically, before a fracked well can enter production, the millions of liters of chemical-laced fluid pumped into it – now contaminated with a host of minerals (some possibly radioactive) – must then be flushed out and discarded. “Produced water” is disposed of in a variety of ways. Alberta farmers are paid to have frack fluids and muds spread on their fields. Some allege that waste frack fluids are spread on public roads.

-David Kattenburg, February 6, 2014, for Deutsche Welle. From Fracking Canada.

“I’m not sure that it is proven, as far as I’m aware it isn’t, but there are issues about well contamination. Water well contamination by oil and gas drilling is a huge issue,” said Collins.

He added that the “digging of ponds through-out the region,” to capture surface water for fracturing, is a bigger issue right now.

Surprisingly, there are no regulations, Collins says, regarding the proximity of wells, up to 20 on a pad, and open ponds for water catchment — ponds servicing wells with fresh water, but also potentially livestock and irrigation. With trucks coming and going, removing “process water” laden with chemicals from wells, the potential is there, he admits, for spillage, airborne transfer, and soils contamination and transfer. The potential, some say the likelihood, for contamination exists. And with farmers minding the water quality, farmers working for the Oil and Gas industry, there is a built-in structural conflict of interest. But he says there is no proof because there are no baseline studies.

In a recent interview pertaining to Maryland’s draft Natural Gas/Fracking legislation, a spokesperson from the Center for Effective Government said it is almost impossible to prove, or disprove, fracking related activities are contaminating water supplies unless there is sufficient groundwater data prior to fracking. Maryland’s draft regulations called for two years of data; BC does not ask for groundwater data prior to fracking. When there is no proof, it is easy, convenient and profitable, particularly for the Christy Clark administration, to suggest there is no problem.

Who can blame Collins for diving under his desk? His superiors in the Provincial government put the ALC in an impossible spot. How can he serve two masters, the oil and gas industry, and the health of farmers, farm families, children, and consumers of agricultural products grown on oil and gas producing farms.

He is in an impossible spot. “There are some other issues that are popping up, but there are also some benefits. Surface water capture helps livestock in the long term and could lead to the possibility of irrigation.”

According to Collins’ analysis, livestock would potentially be drinking water containing pervasive fracking chemicals, delivered by air, by spillage, or by ground seepage, or simply by dumping. Therefore, it would logically follow that people might well eat steak, and pork, and chicken, whose fatty tissues bio-accumulate these chemicals. But this, according to Collins and his bosses in the Christy Clark administration, who of course remain at “arms-length” from the Agricultural Lands Commission, is a “benefit.”

Clearly from the vantage point of a writer in California, we’ve “lost Canada” to the petroleum industry. Welcome to the “New Normal.”

In the United States, about 750 compounds have been listed as additives for hydraulic fracturing, in a report to the US Congress in 2011, after originally being kept secret for “commercial reasons”.

Below is a link to a partial list of the chemical constituents in additives that are used or have been used in fracturing operations, as based on the report of the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation. Some are known to be carcinogenic. The list, which at first glance would seem to include every toxic chemical known to man, is here.

The list of disclosed ingredients used in British Columbian sites, http://www.fracfocus.ca/find_well/BC, is shorter and not exhaustive.

“Frackers are only obliged to monitor their gaseous waste stream for hydrogen sulfide and small hydrocarbons like methane, ethane and propane. The more toxic “BTEXs” – benzene, toluene, xylene and their aldehydes – go unreported,” according to frackingcanada.

Some wells do report formaldehydes and, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

“Potential cancer risks from formaldehyde have received substantial attention. In 1996 and again in 2006, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization concluded that formaldehyde was a human carcinogen. The primary evidence supporting this conclusion was increases in cancer in workers exposed to formaldehyde concentrations exceeding the concentrations present in most non-occupational indoor environments.”

Collins continues, “It provides a second income to certain farmers. There may be 50 to 70 large farmers in the region and they maybe see oil and gas income as a subsidiary, or smaller, part of their income. Whereas the guy who has a quarter section might have a couple of well sites on it that provide him with $10,000 a year and he has a job somewhere else.”

Temporary Use, Albeit Relatively Long Term

 
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Photo Credit: In areas where shale-drilling/hydraulic fracturing is heavy, a dense web of roads, pipelines and well pads turn continuous forests and grasslands into fragmented islands. from Simon Fraser University via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

“In the long run the Commission, our agency, perceives the oil and gas industry to be a temporary use, albeit relatively long term. We have sense that this is a long term use, but its not permanent. We seek to ensure that whenever installations are put that there is a possibility, and probability, of their being returned to agricultural use.”

Some people question whether a twenty acre gravel pad for multi-well heads, on a twenty well site, will ever be reclaimed for agricultural use.

Quite the optimist, now, Collins responds. “Well, the Oil and Gas industry say that they will and we anticipate that’s what will happen.” .

He said there are already wells that have “gone dry and been reclaimed by farms.” That’s after likely flooding them with Benzene, Hydrochloric Acid, and formaldehydes.

There are farmers “who are less inclined to be supportive” of the gas industry and people “who do not farm much that really like the income,” said Collins.

Apparently the Christy Clark government and the energy industry do as well, well enough to potentially poison the countryside and jeopardize the health of BC citizens in what has to be one of the darkest periods in the history of Canada.

Photo at Top of Page: Fracking site as seen from the air, near Fort St. John, BC. – Credit: Jeremy Sean Williams, WiIderness Committee.