By Robert Lundahl
Positive Visions and Cultural Change
When we discuss technology, the conversation is often framed in terms of “technological change.” Technologies are sometimes said to be “disruptive,” meaning, they create change.
Arguably, technologies related to information and energy have the greatest capacity for disruption.
This story is about power, and the cultural and environmental impacts brought about by energy development on the Elwha River over 100 years ago. Impacts disproportionately borne by Indigenous communities. And this story is about positive change. In 2012, the two dams on the Elwha River began to be removed, in a first ever ecosystem and river restoration project.
You can read my story here: My Elwha Story
Overcoming the “It’s Impossible” Narrative
When filming began, it was a story of a river ecosystem decimated; the goal of restoration was said to be “impossible.”
Conditions on the ground: A tribe without the economic resources or a natural bounty to bring about change, and an underfunded National Park fighting anti-federal, “Wise Use” groups, seemed to suggest the existing “it’s Impossible” narrative would continue on.
However, by the time the film was completed and had been screened, conditions on the ground had been changed.
“I am sure you have heard by now, the fish are already starting to utilize the habitat up above where the projects used to be located. It is awesome, and it is going to keep getting better. I just want to say that I know in my heart that your film and the work you did had a huge impact on the ways things turned out and I am still very grateful to you for that work you did.”
-Rachel Hagaman (Kowalski), Economic Director, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.