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Remembering peninsula of plenty
Marlin Holden, a member of the Jamestown Klallam Tribe, is one of the community elders featured in a short film on the dwindling resources of the Olympic Peninsula. Photo courtesy of John Cambalik
Environmental awareness takes on new form in a 15-minute video sponsored by the Feiro Marine Life Center and Puget Sound Partnership and produced in Port Townsend.
“Voices of the Strait” is a short film produced by Mountainstone Production that gathers the memories of community elders to provide a look at what was once a peninsula of plenty, producer Al Bergstein said.
“Most of the people (interviewed) had grown up poor and worked at typical peninsula jobs like logging, fishing and at the mills,” he said. “Across the board, they had — without any prompting — a strong conservation ethic. They are surprised they lost all this because it happened before their eyes without realizing how significant the changes were.”
Bergstein said he first visited the peninsula in the 1970s, at the tail end of the area’s “era of plenty” where fishing, logging and other resource-dependent industries thrived.
About 30 hours of footage were shot for the 15-minute film, he said. The decision of what to cut and what to include was difficult, he said.
Bergstein worked with Betsy Wharton, a board member at the marine life center.
Wharton said she started making contact with potential interviewees from January through March and conducted 35 interviews in April and May.
The interviews were conducted with community elders from Neah Bay to Port Townsend.
“I think it’s always important to listen to our elders because they’ve seen some of the same issues that we face today,” she said. “They’re slightly different but kind of a repeat of what we’ve already lived through. The perspective of living in an area over a lifetime can be important and it’s easy to miss that.”
Wharton said participants in the video encouraged conservation and cooperation to restore the area’s natural resources.
“A lot of these elders would say times were tough economically and no one had very much, but there was this abundance that came from the Earth,” she said. “They’ve seen it dwindle.”
The video was paid for by a grant from the Puget Sound Partnership, said Deborah Moriarty, of the marine center.
Moriarty said the center was in charge of the fiscal aspects of the project, which she feels very strongly about.
“I think for us to hear our neighbors talk about what has changed in their lifetime is so much more valuable than us hearing it from politicians or scientists,” she said. “Here our neighbors are talking about the changes they’ve seen to our ecosystem.”
A second video was made by Port Angeles High School student Cameron Little, who interviewed scuba divers about changes beneath the surface and produced an impressive six-minute film, Bergstein said.
“Trying to explain to people what a serious problem we have without making it overwhelmingly depressing is a challenge,” he said.
Both videos will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25, at the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.
For more information, call the Feiro Marine Life Center at 417-6254.