Dare to be 100: DamNation; What Would John Gardner Say?
HuffPost Blog / November 17, 2014
Last night I had the opportunity to check out the important new documentary film DamNation, that has already won honors at first-rank film festivals nationwide. It is a precise retelling of the history of American dam building which reached a fever pitch in the early 1920s. Thousands were built all over America. It seems that no river or creek was exempt. The thirst for power jaded any consideration of unintentional consequences into the future which number many, but the worst offense to me is the desecration of some of our most precious ecosystems, particularly for the fish whose existence in a healthy stream and river bed is essential.
This grim development of thousands of dams, most of which originally were well intended, but are now mostly derelict remnants, has resulted in the havoc that has cost the lives of billions of fish who were thirsty for living space.
This issue was important but remote to me until last night, when my neighborhood gathered to view the release of this wonderful film. Right there, hidden but central to our neighborhood is the Searsville Dam, built in 1892, simply to abet the water supply of San Francisco, 30 miles to the north. Not surprisingly, such intention was never fulfilled. It was subsequently acquired by Stanford. This dam which sits astride the San Francisquito Creek has languished into disrepair. Its only present usage is to supply water for the Stanford University golf course. Meanwhile untold millions of migratory salmon are obstructed from their original habitat. Their existence is held hostage to the caprice of Stanford.
Stanford University is my home church and to millions of alumni, faculty, and other neighbors and friends. All of us are immensely proud of its grandeur. One of its most esteemed members was John Gardner, who is still listed in its pantheon. John delivered the commencement address at the 100th graduation. Stanford accorded him their highest distinction that of the Uncommon Man. John served in Lyndon Johnson's cabinet as Secretary of HEW 1963-1969, and among other things brought in Medicare.
I often reflect what would John have to say about X,Y or Z. What would John Gardner say about Stanford's dereliction in preserving this decrepit relic so that it can water its golf course? I am certain that John, like thousands of others, would cringe in embarrassment. Stanford, please deserve your exalted reputation in society, and tear down the dam.
Read more at: