Wild & Scenic Film Festival 2017

Well, it’s a wrap! The Wild & Scenic Film Festival has completed its 15th consecutive year, once again bringing over 100 films, film makers and activist education to Nevada County with venues spilling out all over Grass Valley and Nevada City.

For me this year was all about the quiet films that remind me of how much I love this beautiful planet and how amazing people can be when they express their love for nature, the outdoors or a very specific project they see in their backyard, documented on film. In short, some of the films shown demonstrate the best in people, and this humble writer appreciates taking a moment to recognize this….but you don’t need to take my word for it, some of these films can be seen online, at other festivals, or can be checked out by SYRCL members at their office on Railroad (hey, there’s a good reason to join up this month!).

Here are a few of my 2017 Wild & Scenic Favorites:

The Gnomist

I don’t want to spoil this short, delightful film. Take 20  minutes to view it and then see if you can remain cynical about human nature.

Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 4.43.13 PMThe Memory of Fish

Dick Goin left the Dust Bowl with his family and made a new home on the Elwha River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Dick’s experience on the river and love of salmon made him an early and unlikely advocate for the largest dam removal project in American history.

Can You Dig This

When Ron Finley started growing food on the strip of barren land outside his home in Compton, California, he had no idea what would grow roots in this stark land of LA projects. Follow four unlikely gardeners as they learn to grow and find something unexpected in their new pursuit.

Also worth a look is Finley’s TED Talk here.

“When you put beauty in a place that has none, that’s a game changer.”

— Ron Finley, the “Gangster Gardener

Thank you Wild & Scenic Film Festival, film makers and idealists.

New Site for Siteline

screen-shot-2016-06-07-at-6-55-33-pmSiteline Architecture’s new website is a great example of a client doing many of the right things, but not quite having them connected. I was excited to partner with Paul Racko to bring their social media, especially their very active account at Houzz, into alignment with their website—all in a sleek WordPress template that easily accommodates their mobile site and responds well to tablets, too.

Like most web re-designs, there is a good bit of learning about the client, and in this case, I was excited to find that some of my favorite buildings around town were designed by Siteline. Best of all, I love this teams’ pro-active approach to Nevada County and commitment to design responsibly with a long vision. I mean really, who would thought to re-brand what we’ve been calling the K-Mart Shopping Center as McKnight Crossing? What a great idea! Thank you Siteline for the opportunity to make it easier for folks to find and work with you—a real pleasure.


WSFF: Dear Governor Brown


The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is January 14-18 in Nevada City and Grass Valley, California. Films screening Friday, January 14, include the North American Premier of “Dear Governor Brown.” Filmmaker Jon Bowermaster will be in attendance for the screening, which is part of the film session “Water in the West” at the Miner’s Foundry, Stone Hall at 7pm. This film exposes the California governor’s support, or at least tolerance, for fracking and other dangerous oil extraction techniques. While widely considered an environmentally aware lawmaker, Bowermaster reveals the discrepancy between practices occurring today in California and the typical politic-speak frequently quoted by Governor Brown.

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Open Letter Concerning Yuba River Fisheries

yuba_cairn_6Dear US Army Corps or Engineers,

This is a personal letter. I was raised in the Pacific Northwest. My hometown of Bellingham Washington was homeport for many boats that routinely did the Alaska Salmon run. My neighbors were fishermen. Being raised with abundant salmon, that were part of a way of life, having toured spawning grounds from childhood, and had every manner of abundant salmon prepared in our home as part of seasonal festivities, the notion that salmon may pass away in my lifetime is huge. What does this mean for us, as a people if we let this happen? Can you have a healthy river system without native species? These are big questions, and they break down into manageable actions.

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NOT Another Climate Change Movie

This-Changes-Everything_Final-692x1024Film maker Avi Lewis brings author Naomi Klein’s best-selling non-fiction book, “This Changes Everything” to the screen as a 90 minute documentary. Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, “This Changes Everything” attempts to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. Nevada County Climate Change Coalition, SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival and the Nevada Theatre Film Series present this special showing. “This Changes Everything” is being shown in more than 70 cities across the USA during the week of October 19, 2015.

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Cultural Soil: Giving in a Way that Grows


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The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is the largest environmental film festival in North America. Apart from its distinguished record of showing over 100 films for thirteen years running, the story behind the Wild & Scenic On Tour is about a corporate giving program that is as tightly woven as a Maidu willow basket.

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SBC—People Planet, Profit

Yuba_middlefork_bieryLast spring, when snow was still on the ground in sad little clumps, I began some conversations with Lucy Blake and Steve Frisch about Sierra Business Council’s beginnings, goals and the perspective they will bring to their 20th Anniversary Conference,  Peak Innovation at Lake Tahoe’s Granlibakken October 8-10, 2014.

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Yuba River Book on iTunes

Swimming_into_SunsetsMy slim chapbook of Yuba River photos and images has become an e-book, offered at iTunes.

Swimming Into Sunsets is available as an e-book on the iTunes book store for $4.99. 20% or more of book proceeds will be donated to the South Yuba River Citizen’s League (SYRCL). Learn more at yubariver.org/.

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From Out of Mud, Grows A Lotus


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Film Review


Somewhere in the midst of summer blockbuster releases is a quiet film that just might be worth changing your schedule to see…changing your schedule that is, to a non-prime time theater experience, as this gem finds itself being screened at 11am and 5pm here in Nevada County, making room for bigger dollar draws, like Hangover III and Fast and Furious 6.

Mud has a 99% rating with Rotten Tomatoes, the review site where the film Lincoln received 83%. But that isn’t why I changed my dinner plans and persuaded other friends to do the same—Mud held a promise for a wonderful combination of talented star power, an intriguing script and homage to a great work of American literature, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mud kept all promises and beyond this surprised me with a wonderful parallel of modern Southern life along the Mississippi.

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Rethinking Homeless Signs


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Tidily written on a piece of corrugate cardboard torn from a box, the senior couple stands near their usual corner in Boulder, Colorado: “We Never Thought it would come to This.”

For many, the sign of the times is a piece of cardboard, held by a homeless person seeking food, shelter, work or perhaps just a smile. The 14 minute short film Good Karma $1 starts with an intellectual notion and follows it back to the human heart and a social dilemma without a clear solution.

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