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The Unforeseen

by on May 18th, 2009
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How does a community measure progress?  Is progress the growth and development of residential and commercial properties?  The number of roads?  An increase in population? In The Unforeseen, these notions of community progress are questioned in Austin, Texas as a popular swimming hole and fresh water resource, Barton Springs, is threatened by real estate developer Gary Bradley and the corporation Freeport-McMoran. The documentary follows the battle between the developers and the community.  Long city council meetings, referendums, protests, state laws, Gov. Ann Richards’ veto, and Gov. George W. Bush are all involved.  The film includes interviews with Robert Redford, Willie Nelson, Ann Richards, and a reading of Wendell Berry’s "Santa Clara Valley."

I found the story of the community’s struggle with protecting the land powerful and I wished the documentary focused solely on that.  The Unforeseen could have provided more information about the creek and spring, facts about the pollution from the developments, and its impact on the wildlife.  Apparently there is a rare salamander that lives in Barton Creek, but the film did not discuss any effects on the amphibian.  Instead, the documentary contained too many metaphors, such as suburban development is like a cancer.  The actual story of the spring is compelling enough! However, the film does raise questions on what is important to communities in the long run.

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