A couple of Slow Food USA staffers attended the viewing of Red Gold at Lincoln Center last week. Aside from being extremely impressed by the beautiful images of the Alaskan wilderness, I was also moved by the story of the fisherman who are fighting to protect their home, community and livelihood. The passion these fishermen feel about protecting Bristol Bay and their crusade against the Pebble Mine, reminded me of a month I spent in Melbourne, Australia, working with the environmental activist organization, Blue Wedges.

During my junior year of college, I spent 5 months in Australia, traveling the eastern coast of the country, exploring environmental sustainability, hiking through the outback, feasting with farmers and working with Blue Wedges to protect the Port of Melbourne. The activists behind Blue Wedges are determined to save their bay from dredging, which would allow larger barges into the Port bringing more imports. The proposed dredging in the Port of Melbourne threatens exotic coral reefs and traditional fish populations both of which bring big money to the bay communities through eco – tourism and commercial fishing.

Photo The Age Craig Abraham (Sept 2005)

Photo The Age Craig Abraham (Sept 2005)

The activists, like those featured in Red Gold, are constantly fighting against scientific evidence from scientists paid for by the corporation behind the proposed dredging. In both Melbourne and Bristol Bay, the communities work tirelessly to protect their community and are funded and organized by generous donations from their community. Those proposing the dredging and the pebble mine are supported by major corporations that have far larger budgets and resources available at their fingertips. I find the resourcefulness of both communities inspiring and a testament to the power of how a small group of people committed to protecting the environment and their livelihoods can make a difference.

The Red Gold filmmakers have provided the Alaskan story with a national stage to gain support in opposition to the Pebble Mine. Activist efforts amongst Slow Food on Campus chapters are brewing. What will you defend in 2009?