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Up Thornton Creek
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by Chris Parry

"Big business destroys the world it depends on - yet again."
3 stars

Thank God for the Crawfords. Who are they? They're a couple of folks who bought a home near a salmon-fileld creek in Shoreline Washington, who got royally peeved when a development company bought the property next door and decided to buld an old folks home on it. No, the Crawfords weren't just being nosey neighbors - rather, they were concerned about the environmental rules that the company was ignoring as it bulldozed the area, then built a parking lot right on the edge of the creek. So they went to court seeking enforcement of local laws. And that's where the battle began.

I live in a part of the world where, once a year, the local creek comes alive with thrashing. That thrashing comes from thousands of salmon, coming in from the open ocean to find the place where they were born, lay eggs and, essentially die from the effort. It's one of the most awesome things you'll ever see in nature; that a fish could navigate its way up a creek to find the exact place it was born is incredible enough. That they would endure so much, and put themsleves through such a struggle, swimming against the flow, leaping up waterfalls, working their way around obstacles, is nothing short of incredible. And I consider myself lucky to live in a city that values this natural phenomona enough to protect it.

Unfortunately, the city of Shoreline Washington isn't cut from the same cloth as I. Shoreline is the city where developers Aegis decided to build their new 'facility for the aged', irrespective of local laws that say you need to leave a 75 foot buffer zone around the waterway. Shoreline is also the city that the Crawfords appealed to in order to have local environmental laws enforced and the building work stopped.

So Shoreline told the builders to stop building. Yet the building did not stop.

So the Crawfords went to court, and the courts said they were right, but he building did not stop.

See, Shoreline knows where the money is, and a big development bringing in hundreds of new residents means big cash for the fat cats that run the show, so they simply changed the rules, had the creek reclassified as a 'drainage ditch', and let the corporate boys keep on pouring concrete. Thankfully, Shoreline didn't reckon on the Crawfords, who refused to stop fighting, would not let the situation go, and turned the situation into a large local news event.

So did the Crawfords win? That's not for me to reveal here, but what I will say is that, in a situation like this, there can never really be a winner. The people that ignore rules get slapped on the wrist with onehand, while they're being patted on the back with the other, and the average Joe's who just want their corner of the world to stay beautiful get nothing but grief.

A documentary that is important more for the message than the artistry behind it, Up Thornton Creek is a good hour of TV, in my opinion, and one that could have been shot in any town in America. We're losing the fight, folks...

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originally posted: 06/12/04 18:44:39
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

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  01-Jan-2004 (NR)
  DVD: 00--0000



Directed by
  Peter Vogt

Written by
  Peter Vogt

  Patty Crawford
  Tim Crawford
  Freeman House

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