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REDEFINING PROSPERITY is the story of how a mining town recovered from its legacy of pollution and prospered by building community around the battle to save their beautiful river.


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Born in the California Gold Rush, Nevada City was once the scene of some of the most destructive environmental practices on earth. By the 1960s, the town was a backwater, its extractive industries dying. Then it was discovered by the "back to the land movement." It was a second gold rush but with a different idea of gold based on nature, community and a sense of place.

The fight to save the Yuba River from proposed power dams brought conflicting factions of the community together while different ideas about the meaning of wealth have led to changes in local food production, education, arts, music and a commitment to building community. Once a place whose essence was individualism, competition and extractive industries, Nevada City is now moving toward a future of solidarity, stewardship, and livelihoods based on renewable resources, husbandry and sustainability.

Featuring two dozen of Nevada City's most active citizens and their stories, REDEFINING PROSPERITY is the remarkable story of a beautiful California town and the outward-looking, creative people who call it home and forged its new identity.

57 minutes
SDH Captioning for the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing

Directed by John de Graaf
Produced by Jennifer Ekstrom, John de Graaf
Writer: John de Graaf
Photographer / Editor: Greg Davis
Narrator: Jackie O'Ryan


Screening options:
$29.95 Home Use DVD purchase (private use only)

COMMUNITY SCREENINGS (single events with license to charge admission)

$100 Small Community Screening (1-50 people)
$200 Medium Community Screening (51-100 people)
$350 Large Community Screening (100+ people)

"Provides a valuable window into the evolution of a historic part of California from gold mining to community scale agriculture and local community development. It weaves in the legacy of gold mining and Native American displacement and genocide with the region's revival through the influx of the 60's generation 'Back to the Earthers.' It shows the possibility of cooperation and reaching over ideological divides to preserve the beloved Yuba River and environmental attributes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains."
Stephanie Pincetl, Founding Director, California Center for Sustainable Communities, Professor, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California - Los Angeles

"A beautiful story of community, activism, economics, conflict, and ultimately, coming together. With the nearly two-decade experience of protecting the Yuba River as the lens, the film shares a broader lesson of how we find common ground and common value around the natural resources that sustain us all. And, the film's characters stick with you!"
Brady Walkinshaw, CEO and Publisher, Grist

"By showing the story of a mountain region in historical perspective, REDEFINING PROSPERITY offers the gift of hope. This inspiring film reveals a transformation of values from destructive greed during the Gold Rush to community creativity that draws strength from the defense of a wild river and prosperity from the renewal of lands and lives."
Stephen Most, writer and filmmaker, Author, Stories Make the World

"All too often in the environmental movement we focus on what is not working, rather than what is working. Redefining Prosperity celebrates local movements to preserve natural beauty and nourish healthy communities. Beyond politics and ideology, we all long for beauty. A new 'Gold Rush' in Nevada City, California sought to heal wounds created by centuries of resource exploitation and destruction to land and indigenous communities. Through an effort to save the beloved Yuba River, the community restored unity and collaboration. Nevada City now sees its natural spaces as valuable not for resource extraction, but as treasures of their own."
Allen Myers, Director, Earth Day Film Festival

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