I was fortunate to attend a screening of the documentary film Rebels With a Cause at the local theater in Sebastopol, Ca. The link provides a trailer which gives the flavor of the message and the spectacular photography.
There are forces in this country that wish to privatize much that belongs to the citizens. This is nothing new. In the early years of the 20th century wealthy oligarchs had their eyes on commercializing much of the wilderness lands for private development. President Theodore Roosevelt stymied their desires. Roosevelt used his presidential authority to issue executive orders to create 150 new national forests, increasing the amount of protected land from 42 million acres to 172 million acres. The President also created five national parks, eighteen national monuments, and 51 wildlife refuges. A story of a more recent success below the fold.
In the 1950s, the vision for the Marin County coast was all too familiar: the rural area would become an extension of San Francisco, resembling Menlo Park or Malibu; hundreds of thousands of people would reside in suburban housing developments between Bolinas and Tomales Bay; an eight lane freeway would connect the Richmond Bridge with Point Reyes Station; rural Highway One would become a multi-lane freeway; and harbors, marinas, and hotels would cover Bolinas Lagoon, Limantaur Estero and Tomales Bay. At the time most people assumed agriculture in the region was dead and the county’s dairymen and ranchers would become rich selling their land to real estate developers and move their operations elsewhere. Urbanization seemed unavoidable, especially for a rural area so close to a burgeoning city like San Francisco. Rebels With A Cause portrays the ordinary citizens as well as the responsible and often reluctant politicians who did extraordinary things to save what are now the Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area from development, creating an 80 mile-long park that supports open space, recreation, agriculture and wildlife. This compelling and epic story weaves together themes of conservation, ecology, development, finance, politics and sustainability.
The first screening I saw was extra exciting because not only was the theater packed, the film-makers were there, as well as many of the local citizens and politicians who were involved in the movement. Judging from the age of those in the audience, many of them weren't even born when the citizen activism began. We in the Bay Area are so fortunate to have the Golden Gate National Recreation Area so close. But most of us just accept it as routine. I feel that the film should be seen by everyone in the area to show how it was created, and for those outside the area (who may visit someday) it should be seen to demonstrate the possibilities for citizen activism.
The battle to create Point Reyes National Seashore shows the process from the idea to the actual accomplishment. Hard fought negotiations, polarized landowners, selfless politicians from both sides of the aisle, even tragedy as one of the prime movers died young in a plane crash. Political expediency is showcased; local politicians voting against their conservative leanings (and thus doing the right thing) to get re-elected.Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall truly heroic, is interviewed extensively. Even Nixon allocated the final monies required after a huge petition drive influenced Washington.
I was especially interested in this documentary after exploring Pt. Reyes with lineatus on several bird hikes. An island in Bolinas Lagoon was slated to be covered with marinas,restaurants,carnival rides, and even a heliport. This photo is that lagoon from our recent hike.
Photo is from Navajo's Bird Hike Diary
The second part of the movie concerns Marincello. This was a plan to build housing, high rises, and commercial "light industry" on the Marin Headlands overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. An independent city of 30,000 was to be created. Gulf Oil owned the land and a developer actually started to build this monstrosity. The movie documents the citizen activism which stopped the development and was instrumental in making residents of the Bay area aware of what they had and how easily it could be lost. Here's what the Headlands could have looked like.
Navajo's diary on that bird hike, with more photos of the Headlands, is here:
Hawk Hill Diary
After the screening the filmmakers took audience questions. Several were about the cartoons which added so much to the content. They discussed contacting a local cartoonist who they said was an absolute joy to work with. The cartoonist is, in fact, our own Mark Fiore.
Local screenings of the film have been held and continue to be held. I hope that everyone who is able will attend one of these. Here is a list which I hope gets updated as more venues become available.
The film/film makers have a Facebook Page
which should contain up to date material. It is my fond hope that the movie finds its way to public television as it contains an inspiring message for the country. It becomes clear that becoming discouraged in the face of obstacles is not an option when it comes to our environment.
Finally, we cannot "rest on our laurels". Those forces I mentioned at the top never give up. Maggiejean's excellent Drake's Bay Oyster diary details how the influence of the insidious Koch Brothers is attempting to gain a foothold even here. Eternal vigilance!
Thank you everyone for the rescue and the rec list. Very nice.