A lot has changed since people came together in the 1950’s and 1980’s to create the Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but the general attitude remains the same when it comes to protecting open space.
“You have to work for free, and you have to be crazy,” Filmmaker Kenji Yamamoto joked Monday night after the screening of his and Nancy Kelly’s documentary, Rebels With a Cause, at the Patch/AOL office in Palo Alto as part of the UNAFF 2012 International Documentary Film Festival.
The film, eight years in the making, was co-presented by the Mill Valley Film Festival where it was also shown. It highlights the lengths volunteers went to to preserve the miles of natural land that stretch along the California coast in Marin and San Francisco. Facing the federal government, private developers, corporations and county supervisors, it takes us from Congressman Clem Miller’s Point Reyes Bill in 1962, rising land prices through the Kennedy and Nixon years, and a national campaign to save not only Point Reyes, but 13 other parks across the country.
“There were a tremendous amount of people involved,” Yamamoto said after the screening. “Ordinary people who really treasured what was around them, and we are so damn lucky they fought so hard.”
The film commemorates Point Reyes’ 50th anniversary, but during a panel discussion local environmentalists brought us back to the present by reminding voters they will have a chance to help support the preservation of those same lands in the upcoming election.
Measure A would incease sales tax by a quarter-cent, and raise $10 million for the protection of parks and natural resources. The measure was placed on the ballot by the Marin County Board of Supervisors in August and requires two-thirds approval to pass on Nov. 6.
In addition to Yamamoto and Kelly, the panel included Lennie Roberts a legislative advocate for the Committee for Green Foothills; Audrey Rust, retired president, C.E.O. and executive director of the Peninsula Open Space Trust; and filmmaker Gwenaelle Gobe, whose documentary This Space Available, an examination of billboards and other commercial images prevalent in our outdoor spaces, was shown later that evening.
The panelists talked about preservation efforts today, and Kelly said she believes our relationship with the natural environment has changed over the years – from her own camping trip with successful executives who were afraid to sleep overnight in a tent, to children in East San Jose who have never seen the ocean.
“Just as our income levels are separating more and more, I think our experience with nature is separating more and more,” she said.
Eventually, Kelley and Yamamoto hope to produce a DVD of the documentary that will be shown in California public schools.
“To get young people,” Yamamoto said, “excited about the outdoors.”