"Sustainability is nothing more than putting in place the age-old desire to live richly, equitably, and peaceably with each other and with our natural surroundings so that our 'home' may offer itself to the imaginations and tables of generations to come."
Ted Bernard, Hope and Hard Times
These images explore one particular community featured in Hope and Hard Times, the Mattole Valley in Northern California. The Mattole river flows through a watershed of approximately 300 square miles and into the Pacific just south of Point Mendocina. Three tectonic plates meet along the northern California coast and push the land to heights and angles that coastal road builders dodged while sending Highway 1 up to Oregon. This techtonic blessing has hindered developement but has not stopped certain parties from seeking resources.
Decades of intensive clearcutting of old growth forest along steep hillsides, aggressive grazing of livestock on slanting lanscapes, and reckless harvesting of salmon from the Mattole have lead to a tired landscape with little to give to a growing population.
In 1990, frustrations with logging practices in the region led thousands of protestors to descend on the area in what has been coined the "Redwood Summer." Ranchers and loggers, who owned much the land and saw the clearcutting as an honest day's work, formed alliances to defend themselves. Who were these outsiders telling them what they should and shouldn't do with their property? They found themselves up against the homesteaders and environmentalists who were fighting for the restoration of the land and most importantly the watershed.
Fortunately, the two teams found common ground: the Mattole River. Everyone involved wanted the river to be healthy, and everyone recognized the interdependence of the river with the nature surrounding it. Conflicting groups, therefore, began to form colaborive organizations around this theme which they could agree.