“Saving the Sierra: Voices of Conservation in Action” hits the road this summer.

Saving the Sierra, a project of The Sierra Fund, explores the geographic, political and philosophical boundaries of the new Sierra Nevada Conservancy using the tools of public media and story-based community development. A six-part public radio series and a national hour-long documentary sheds light on the role of conservation in preserving regional heritage and character while connecting people to the land and to each other. A series of regional storytelling workshops and project listening sessions promote deeper community engagement with the issues. The project website permanently archives stories and provides a public forum for continued interaction and sharing.

Project Activities

Story Booth (starting Summer 2006)

A mobile audio recording studio travels throughout the Sierra to conservation events, community meetings and environmental gatherings to collect stories of the Sierra from those who know and love it.

World Wide Web (launch Summer 2006)

An interactive website offering a ground level view of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy through photographs and narratives generated in the Storybooth and Storytelling Workshops (see below), radio profiles, a blog of “postcards” essays and images from visitors inspired to share their own stories.

Storytelling Workshops (Summer – Fall 2006)

Hands-on training in producing powerful short audio narratives and still images, designed to build the capacity of rural conservation groups to effectively communicate their issues and perspectives.

Exhibitions (March – November 2007)

A traveling public art installation featuring photographs, soundscapes, audio narratives, archival images, and interpretive information collected throughout the project and displayed at both traditional (museums, libraries,) and non-traditional (park visitor centers, city halls) arts venues throughout California.

Listening Sessions (August – November 2007)

Public events where diverse community members come together and hear a range of local stories, meet the storytellers, discuss conservation opportunities and challenges, and envision a shared future in the Sierra.

Public Radio Programs (summer 2006 – October 2007)

National broadcast of a six-part public radio series on NPR’s Living on Earth. Regional broadcast of radio features on KQED-FM’s The California Report. National distribution of hour-long documentary through the Public Radio Exchange.

Project Participants

Saving the Sierra focuses on the rural and remote communities of the Sierra Nevada mountain range where more than 2 million Californians reside. The radio series will highlight 6 community conservation partnerships within the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Sierra College students will collaborate with graphic artists to design the project Web site and train to run the Storybooth. Members of Sierran conservation organizations and the general public will engage in a series of storytelling workshops and listening sessions. Youth from rural and urban areas of California will contribute audio pieces to the website.

Expected Outcomes

  • Build an engaged, informed constituency that cares about conservation of the Sierra Nevada and has the tools to develop, understand and implement creative solutions that meet a wide range of community needs.
  • Increase understanding of Sierra conservation issues and expand opportunities for diverse stakeholders to hear each other’s perspectives, struggles, and concerns.
  • Create forums for residents of California and the US to discover how community members come together to find local solutions to regional conservation issues.
  • Generate public radio programming, Web content, and public art that honors the history, traditions and views of Sierra while giving voice to Californians traditionally ignored or stereotyped in the mass media.
  • Strengthen a sense of connection to the Sierra Nevada among project participants and radio listeners, helping them to understand that the issues facing the mountain range affect the health of the entire state of California and that everyone, rural and urban alike, has a reason to care about conservation of the Sierra.

Project Partners

  • The Sierra Fund
  • The Center for Sierra Nevada Studies at Sierra College
  • Sierra Nevada Alliance

Project Advisors

  • David Beesley Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Sierra College
  • Joan Clayburgh, Executive Director, The Sierra Nevada Alliance
  • Dee Davis, President, Center for Rural Strategies
  • Timothy P. Duane Ph.D., Associate Professor, Energy and Resource, City and Regional Planning, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley
  • Elizabeth Martin, CEO, The Sierra Fund
  • Carolyn Merchant Ph.D., Chair, Division of Society and Environment, UC Berkeley
  • Lucy Parker, Chair, California Indian Basketweavers Association
  • Patricia A. Stowkowski, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont

For more information on Saving The Sierra contact project co-directors jesikah maria ross & Catherine Stifter



This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities as part of the Council's State-wide California Stories Initiative. Learn more by checking out their website: www.californiastories.org