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Caspar on BBC Radio
Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 15:46 GMT
Julian Pettifer - California dreaming?
Caspar is a small village on the north coast.
Once it provided hundreds of jobs for men who cut down the redwood forests and shipped the timber south to rebuild San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906.
As the trees were logged out, Caspar declined and became depopulated.
Seven years ago about 500 residents (they call themselves the Casparados) realised they were facing a crisis.
They found that they were living on one of the last remaining undeveloped stretches of California coast and the man who owned it wanted to sell.
The Casparados came to the environmental rescue
Unless they could do something to stop it, their quiet village could fall into the hands of developers and become a tourist trap like neighbouring Mendocino.
Michael Potts, a 57- year-old publisher, was one of the Casparados who decided they must take control of their own destiny.
He explained what might have happened if the developers had moved in. They were not given the chance.
The Casparados forged themselves into a community and put together a master plan for Caspar that looks ahead for the next 100 years. They were determined to protect their stunning environment.
Jerry (Muppets) and Susan Juhl - passionate about Caspar
Somehow, they got together $3.5 million from state and federal grants to buy the land and safeguard its character forever.
I attended a town meeting, in the new Community Centre, where Prof. Randy Hester, the landscape architect they enlisted to help, presented his ideas and drawings for approval.
I was also introduced to Caspar's unusual style of governance.
Everything is done by consensus. Nothing happens unless everyone agrees.
It is time-consuming but it seems to work.
This may have something to do with the sort of people who live in Caspar: people like Jerry Juhl who was principle screenwriter for the Muppets and who now invests his creative imagination in Caspar.
This achievement could prove to be even more durable than Miss Piggy.
Crossing Continents: California
Thursday 26 December 2002 on BBC Radio 4 at 1100 GMT
The programme is repeated on Monday 30 December 2002 on BBC Radio 4 at 2030 GMT
Correspondent: Julian Pettifer
Producer: Lynne R Jones
Editor: Maria Balinska
Online Producer: Andrew Jeffrey
written by Julian Pettifer for the BBC Radio 4, 26 December 2002
Article mirrored from the BBC website
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