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Video project collects tales

Using public radio, storytelling, interviews and the Web, two women want to capture what the Sierra is all about and how to save it.

Catherine Stifter of the San Juan Ridge and Jesikah Maria Ross of Davis have been traveling around the Sierra looking for stories since mid-June and will be here Saturday at the Loma Rica Ranch Harvest Festival.

‘”Saving the Sierra’ is getting people to talk about conservation of cultural and natural resources,” Ross said. It could be history, traditions, lifestyles and the economy, or it could deal with water, soil and trees.



“We’re trying to get to as many parts of the Sierra as we can and talk to as many constituencies as we can,” Ross said. “One of the big groups we’re talking to is ranchers and farmers, their heritage, their economy. It’s similar to oral history in nature.

“We’re not saying the stories will change public policy or impact development,” Ross said. “People won’t get involved in what the issues are, but someone’s personal experience can draw you in and get you to do something.”




Stifter has worked in public radio for 28 years as a reporter and editor. She will produce a documentary and a six-part series for National Public Radio from the body of work she and Ross are gathering.

“When I listen to public radio, I don’t hear voices of people where I live,” Stifter said. “I wanted to change that, I want to tell those stories.

“We can’t talk enough about the resources and history of the area and the people in it,” Stifter said. “The Sierra is an active place politically, environmentally and in building communities. There’s a lot going on but people aren’t hearing about these things.”

The mobile recording studio or story booth that travels to various Sierra gatherings will be at Loma Rica Ranch this weekend. It is just one way of gathering information for the project.

At Loma Rica, the pair will record “video postcards,” about the Sierra that they will share on their Web site, http://www.savingthesierra.org. The site is slated to have a blog start today “that looks at the Sierra as a whole,” Ross said.

“We’ll also do community listening sessions,” in the future, Ross said, where stories will be recorded for video clips. “It could be a logger, a tree sitter and an environmental historian all in one room,” she said. “They could discuss how people feel about change and what it is like to live off the land.”

Traveling exhibitions are also planned where people can see images of the Sierra and its storytellers on video clips and soundscapes.

“There are 2 million people here and many decisions affecting us are made in Sacramento,” Ross said. “People in the Sierra need a way to communicate not only our concerns, but also our experiences, hopes and dreams.”

Saving the Sierra is a two-year project funded by the California Council for Humanities as part of its California Documentary Project. Sierra College interns will be doing much of the work for the project, doing the recording and photography.

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To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

WHAT: Save the Sierra mobile story booth.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Loma Rica Ranch, 10980 Brunswick Road, Grass Valley

INFORMATION: To preserve the history, ecology and economy of the Sierra through the voices of those who live there.


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