River of Renewal & Green21

by Stephen Most on November 10, 2009

in River of Renewal, social change, water

River-of-Renewal-PBS-broadcast

(Click here for a video clip from River of Renewal and show times)

In October, a documentary I wrote and produced about the crisis over water and wild salmon in the Klamath Basin began its first round of national broadcasts on PBS. Having a show uplinked to a satellite, then downlinked to TV stations that broadcast it is a strange experience, but there have been immediate results. Already I’ve heard from a friend I lost touch with many years ago; the publisher of my companion book sent her personal rave review; and many people have ordered DVDs.

While it’s gratifying to know there will be almost 750 broadcasts around the country by the end of November, what matters is to reach the public at the moment when a show like this can make a difference. After a long process of conflict resolution and consensus building, Klamath Basin stakeholders reached an agreement on the removal of the four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River as part of what may become the largest river restoration project in history.

The tribes of the Klamath Basin played a central role in accomplishing this goal. They have a world renewal ethos: pikiawish in the Karuk language, which means “fixing the world.” People fix the world on behalf of the salmon, the deer, wildfowl and other creatures, and for the land, water, and air all living things depend on. Pikiawish is our responsibility as human beings. To act accordingly requires a range of actions from clearing streams to repairing relationships with people from rival tribes so that we can work together on what concerns us all.

This is an idea whose time has come, but it has barely begun to reach people on the necessary scale. Public education is needed to build support for the elimination of environmentally harmful dams and their replacement with power from sun, wind, biofuels, and geothermal sources, all of which are abundant in the Klamath Basin: a ten-and-a-half-million-acre region that is larger than nine of the fifty states.

Working with Jennifer Thompson on Green21 puts this book & film project into a more inclusive perspective. For I’ve told one story within a global mosaic of responses to the challenge of our time. Green21, which will be available to the public via the web as well as on TV, will present many pieces of the mosaic in ways that will open minds to the big picture.

That’s a tall order. No one label like Climate Change encompasses this challenge, since the changes include the extinction of species, widespread pollution of land, fresh water, and the atmosphere, and acidification of the oceans. The fundamental relationship between civilization and nature is, I believe, undergoing a transformation, and much is at stake, including the web of life as we know it. That’s why I am so supportive of Green21 and happy to be contributing to its eventual success, awaiting the day when that series begins its satellite uplink to audiences across the country and around the world. That series will show many pieces of the mosaic, including inspiring stories of ecologically wise ventures in alternative energy, transportation, housing and other basic aspects of life, in ways that offer examples for all of us, via media that are interactive and open-ended as well as entertaining and educational.

Like River of Renewal, the title of Green21 expresses an aspiration, that this will become a green century. And each project that puts solutions rather than pollution into the world brings us closer to that goal.

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