PORT ORFORD andndash; Saturday's capacity crowd at Savoy Theatre celebrated citizen efforts to preserve the ocean environment and local jobs it sustains.
Those who watched the premier showing of "Ocean Frontiers: The Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship" gave filmmakers Karen and Ralf Meyer a standing ovation when the 80-minute documentary ended.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes were among those who rose to their feet in appreciation.
The film, which launched its national tour from the westernmost town in the continental U.S., depicts seaports and watersheds from Oregon to Massachusetts and Florida, telling the story of people working together to preserve their coastal homes and livelihoods.
That includes recounting efforts by the Port Orford Resource Team that recently earned the offshore Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve designation from the Oregon Legislature. It puts consumptive uses there off-limits.
Port Orford residents also were instrumental in gaining protected wilderness status for the upper Elk River, a key part of the local watershed.Several Port Orford fishermen and citizens were featured in the film, including 10-year resident Aaron Longton.
"We wake up every morning in such a beautiful place," he said. "It's important to protect it."
Kitzhaber and Hayes toured the marine reserve Sunday by boat. Both were impressed with the contributions of Port Orford residents.
"What you have done here in Port Orford is truly remarkable and is worth repeating across our state and across the nation," Kitzhaber said.
He added that attaining economic prosperity for everyone will require a thoughtful approach that blends good science, strong leadership and a commitment to conserving resources.
"I am sure America can do it," he said.
Hayes said the film is important because it shows environmental and economic success stories that can encourage others to get involved.
"We need to illustrate that communities are taking steps to invest in their own economic futures and in the conservation of our shared natural resources," she said. "Not only can this garner additional support for these grassroots efforts, but hopefully it will inspire communities across the state and beyond.
"I'm proud to be an Oregonian. It doesn't surprise me that Oregon is one of the states featured in this film, because we have an incredible story to tell."
The documentary also explores advances in Massachusetts Bay, where industrial shippers agreed to alter their transport lanes to avoid prime feeding areas for whales, significantly reducing whale deaths from collisions.
Florida residents pushed to put a sensitive coral reef area into a sanctuary, preserving a vital component of the ocean ecosystem.
Even Iowa farmers got involved. They created wetlands on their land and planted strips of prairie grasses to reduce the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen entering waterways from the fields and eventually reaching the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.
State Rep. Wayne Krieger attended Saturday's film premier. He lauded Port Orford residents for creating the marine reserve, which he said can be a laboratory for learning and better understanding of "what actually is happening in the ocean itself."
Emily Platt drove from Corvallis with her boyfriend to attend the screening.
"I was really impressed and surprised," she said. "I had no idea of the need for ocean planning."
Another audience member, Tim Palmer of Port Orford, called the film "fabulous" because it shows positive actions to solve problems.
"We tend to live out the stories we tell about ourselves," he said.
"It was inspiring," agreed Jamie Rassmann of Florence. "It's nice to see that something positive can be done, rather than just looking at the negative."
Karen Meyer said what's most impressive about the stories in the film is that good results came from citizens themselves without involvement by the government.
She learned about Port Orford residents' commitment to the environment about 15 years ago after they formed Friends of the Elk River, she said. Meyer stayed in touch with the community and came back to tell yet another success story there.
A trailer of the film, along with upcoming screening sites and other information, are available at www.ocean-frontiers.org. DVD copies of the film also are available for purchase through the website.