In Memoriam

educating the public on environmental issues

Heroes of the Coast – the Documentary

Heroes of the Coast – the Documentary tells the story of how the people of California organized to save the coast.

In the late 60s, the coast was rapidly changing. Development of high-rise hotels and exclusive seaside housing was rampant. Then came the 1969 Santa Barbara oil blowout.

Efforts to pass legislation failed repeatedly (1970-1972) and the Coastal Alliance launched an initiative, Proposition 20. It qualified for the ballot through the efforts of thousands of unpaid signature gatherers and passed successfully in the November 1972 election.

The victory created the California Coastal Commission and lead to passage of the Coastal Act in 1976. These governing forces have since prevented unrestrained coastal development and protected beach access for the past 40 years. Our documentary celebrates the leadership that enabled average Californians to protect the coast for all to enjoy.

The documentary brings the story to life with stunning coastal footage and the dramatic personalities of those who made Prop. 20 happen.

Earlier this year, Earth Alert raised $10,000 through Kickstarter and with major support from the League for Coastal Protection. The documentary is currently in post-production. Check back here for presentation dates, or follow us on Facebook.

Earth Alert Seeks Support
for Documentary
July 28, 2012
read the article

Documenting Our
Coastal Legacy
August 4, 2012
read the article

Earth Alert Seeks Support for Documentary

July 28, 2012 7:45 AM

The California coastline is an asset many have fought to protect.

Educational nonprofit Earth Alert wants to chronicle a particular era of environmental activism with a new documentary on Proposition 20, the California initiative that established the California Coastal Commission.

"We're talking about history that has been extremely important in California and especially in the Santa Barbara Channel area," said Janet Bridgers, Earth Alert co-founder and president.

The legislation also led to passage of the Coastal Act in 1976.

"If it weren't for Proposition 20, (the beachfront) would look very different," Ms. Bridgers said.

The 30-day campaign for $10,000 to fund the documentary will run until Aug. 17, using a website called Kickstarter, an all-or-nothing funding method. If Earth First doesn't meet its goal of $10,000 in donations, all money must be returned.

On Thursday, Ms. Bridgers was told by Mel Nutter, chairman of the California League for Coastal Protection, that the league will match the grant with $5,000, lowering the needed funding by half.

Earth Alert hopes to finish the project by November to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Proposition 20.

The documentary's working title is "Saving the California Coast." It will draw from 35 interviews with major environmental activists conducted by Ms. Bridgers between 2004 and 2011.

The footage includes interviews with Ellen Stern Harris, known for first suggesting the California Coastal Conservation Act of 1972; Dorothy Green, founding board president of the Heal the Bay movement in Santa Monica; Naomi Schwartz, member and chair in the California Coastal Commission; and Peter Douglas, the main author of the Proposition 20 initiative and the executive director of the California Coastal Commission for more than 25 years.

All four activists have died, leaving a gap in the environmental movement. Ms. Bridgers hopes to influence young people with the new project.

"We need a new generation of activists," she said.

Describing a lack of activism today, Ms. Bridgers said many of the young California hippies from the 1960s "grew up to be business people," leaving a vacuum.

"There's a transition occurring where more and more interests that are not concerned with the environment are involved," she said.

The documentary's director, Toby Younis, wants the film to affect the younger generation as well, specifically those under age 30. He cited this generation's powerful use of social networking as an important factor.

"If you can motivate them, give them something passionate to believe in, they have the tools to influence," Mr. Younis said. "They haven't had the need to be passionate about anything but their own comfort yet."

Ms. Bridgers met Mr. Younis while taking a class called "Shoestring Documentaries" that he was teaching at a public access broadcast television station in Albuquerque, N.M. The two became a team, and this new film will be their second documentary together.

"Janet had a short time frame and a limited budget (on the first documentary), but she was so passionate about what needed to be achieved," Mr. Younis said.

The projects combine her passion and knowledge with his expertise, he said.

"Saving the California Coast" is intended to be both informative and enjoyable.

"We want to make this something that's accessible to ordinary people," Ms. Bridgers said.

In the process, Mr. Younis writes an outline rather than a script to build a story, he said. He will use the interview footage to make a complete narrative, integrating it with some new material to make it interesting and coherent for viewers.

"The magic happens in the editing room. You have to tell a story."

For more information, go to www.earthalert.org.

To donate, go to www.kickstarter.com and search for Janet Bridgers, or click here.

email: jecarma@newspress.com

Documenting Our Coastal Legacy

by Alan Sanders
Ventura County Star
Posted August 4, 2012 at 11:45 a.m.

Just over 40 years ago, California Assemblyman Alan Sieroty made several attempts to pass legislation to protect the California coastline from unrestrained development.

While his legislation made it through the Assembly three years in a row, it never passed the Senate, which was dominated by big money. But a flame still burned. Sieroty then hired a young lawyer, Peter Douglas, to help with the effort.

The Coastal Alliance, which had been advocating for the legislation, decided to go the initiative route after the Legislature failed to pass Sieroty's bill in 1972. Douglas revised the legislation for the initiative.

Thus was born Proposition 20, the landmark legislation that diverted some power over coastal development away from local agencies and the Legislature by creating the California Coastal Commission.

On Nov. 7, 1972, Proposition 20 passed by a significant 56 percent. Now, 40 years later, many of the key players have passed on. Those who remain continue to act on behalf of the public trust to protect special places for the benefit of people, wildlife, the environment and the future.

The positive benefits derived from Proposition 20 can be seen today in every coastal county.

The place I know best is Ormond Beach in Oxnard. The precious site was abused in many ways before Proposition 20. Even after its passage, many projects — including LNG facilities, a marina and hotels, residential development, film production — were proposed for Ormond Beach.

Any one of these projectsmight have succeeded, except for provisions in the Coastal Act and the local coastal plans created by Proposition 20.

Portions of Ormond Beach has been purchased and are now being protected through actions taken by the California Coastal Conservancy. The conservancy has also acted to acquire property along the Ventura and Santa Clara rivers.

I believe that without Proposition 20, none of these goals would have been fulfilled. Ormond Beach certainly would have been developed and perhaps all of coastal Ventura County as well.

All of us can enjoy coastal access today thanks, in part, to those who supported Proposition 20, including many people who live inland. Opportunities to visit coastal areas for recreation was a key provision of the initiative.

One of the key figures in the campaign was Ellen Stern Harris, who also served on the early Coastal Commission.

Ellen saw that the story behind Proposition 20 was in danger of disappearing, along with its key figures. She acted by encouraging Oxnard resident Janet Bridgers of Earth Alert to begin documenting the stories of the individuals and their combined efforts that led to the passage of Proposition 20.

Bridgers' first interview was with Ellen. This project titled "Heroes of the Coast" has now expanded to nearly 40 interviews, including more than two hours with Peter Douglas, who died early this year. The effort continues to this day. The first 19 episodes are available online at www.heroesofthecoast.com.

Additionally, Bridgers has produced "Ormond Wetland Wonderland" and "Stories of the Spill," which looks at the 1969 Santa Barbara oil blowout. Both can be accessed at www.earthalert.org. Bridgers and director/editor Toby Younis have also embarked on a documentary to commemorate the initiative's 40th anniversary. It is expected to be completed this year.

Peter Douglas always thought we would fail if reform required going to the people again. I hope he was wrong. It's now time for a new generation to revisit our desire to manage coastal issues. Who is up for the job?