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The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, January 4 2014 1:00 AM UTC +00:00
Marianne DolanBy Marianne Dolan
First created
Marianne DolanBy Marianne Dolan
First created
$601
pledged of $20,000pledged of $20,000 goal
15
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sat, January 4 2014 1:00 AM UTC +00:00

About

Houseboat Wars is the story of one small community in Sausalito, CA that fought against developers, politicians, and even environmentalists for over 30 years. Against overwhelming odds, it succeeded in gaining the right to live on the water. It is an inspiration to communities worldwide proposing a similar adaptive solution to sea level rise.

I usually make shorter experimental movies like “Damages” which was featured at the Sundance Festival in 2001. (See link to short on my bio page.) Telling the story of my own community’s unique success has been a much larger undertaking.

After seven years of mostly solitary effort, the rough cut of Houseboat Wars is in good enough shape to receive rambunctious approval at two sold-out screenings at the Sausalito Film Festival. Now it needs the expertise and technology beyond my scope to bring it the last mile to a worldwide audience which is why I am asking for your support.

THE STORY -

Houseboat Wars is a folk tale about an artist, a boat-builder, a musician, a troubadour, and a writer who set out to explore new ways of living in the world of the late 1960s. Each has a little streak of outlaw. They migrate to the waterfront of Sausalito, California, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and set about creating their own idea of an idyllic life.

Guns and drugs drift in to their funky paradise. There is a public outcry to clean up the nautical slum. When the law comes huffing and puffing at their doors, they fight back mostly for the sheer fun of it. They also move a bit south to the more traditionally productive areas of the working waterfront.

They are not safe for long. Developers swoop into these boatyards with grandiose propositions to build hotels, condominiums, and substantially increase public coffers. Our youngsters take resistance lessons from the old-time citizen activists who know how to protect the character of their town.

When the developers gain control of the northern waterfront they stage full out agitprop theatre and invite the media. They lose the battle to stop the development but local citizens begin to see them as a group of creative energetic young people with a vision for enhancing Sausalito’s mythical status as an artists’ colony.

They form an association to negotiate with their landlord at Bob’s Boatyard and the Napa Street Pier.

They knock on doors up and down the hillsides tellling their story. They win a few supporters and all seems to be moving forward. Then, without warning the boatyard is destroyed in a pre-dawn bulldozer blitz.

They jump on the groundswell of civic shame following the destruction of Bob’s Boatyard. They form an action group with prominent townspeople to promote their vision of a waterfront zone revitalized by the artists and maritime crafts people who gave the city it’s unique character.

A developer successfully evicts one group from their shops and homes proclaiming them a public nuisance preventing affluent tenants from leasing waterfront offices. The City evicts the the other little group trying to rebuild around the destroyed boatyard. They realize that their weapon of choice must be a counter-suit. The County Court orders all parties to work together.

Years of learning how politics really works follow. Group members meet weekly with City committees. They stage celebrations of maritime heritage and invite the whole town. The City denies their first bid for an ocupancy permit, but after a few more years of demonstrating their worthiness and strengthening strategic alliances, the goal of a live-work community of artists and maritime workers on the waterfront seems close to fruition.

Then an environmental regulatory agency of the State sues each of the fifty members of the community and fines them each $5000 for every day they have lived on the water. They fight back using all the lessons they have learned about public relations, civic engagement, counter-suits and the importance of maximizing the public trust uses of their property.  They thrive today as Galilee Harbor.

These lessons are important to share because variations of this story are going on in every coastal community and neighborhood targeted for redevelopment.  Municipalities are using scare tactics like the absence of sewers that they themselves have not permitted and intended confusion around maritime vessel definitions to challenge the very existence of these communities. Amazingly one would think that with global warming, rising sea levels, and unabated population growth; floating home communities would be enjoying an enthusiastic expansion.

Living on the water is the solution.  Canals and bodies of water with houseboats are a familiar site throughout the world in places as diverse as Hong Kong and Holland. Houseboat Wars documents the struggles of the early American pioneers of this style of living.

THE CHARACTERS - 

Peter
Peter

Peter Bailey is the boat builder in the story. When his Coast Guard tour of duty ended in 1968, Peter moved to Sausalito to pursue his dream of building a sailing homestead. He learned boatbuilding skills from old timers on the waterfront. After building Bertie, he turned his skills to model making for films, most recently at ILM for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy. Peter and his wife, Heidi, sailed off to Port Townsend in 2008.

Chris
Chris

Chris Hardman is the troubadour and a visionary optimist. His passion for agitprop theater was the engine driving many protest plays on the waterfront. His Cardboard Madonnas literally “flipped the script” when they stopped a bulldozer. His dramatic sound designs revolutionized audio tours in museums and historic sites. At Antenna Theater, he has created more than 30 experimental performance works. Chris and his wife, Annette Rose, live at Fort Cronkite.

Tom
Tom

Tom Hoover is the writer. He added the dimension of Gandhi style non-violence to the earliest demonstrations against development. As a member of the “Art Zone” movement, he wrote newspaper columns tracking the details of waterfront politics and edited “Scuttlebutt,” a weekly bulletin. His leadership in developing co-op rules of governance is a key factor in its continued success. He lives at Galilee Harbor on the historic “Dragon Boat.”

Joe
Joe

Joe Tate is the musician. He has been the leader of the legendary Redleg Boogie Band since the 60s and often the sparkplug for musical events. After a stint as Galilee Harbormaster in the 80s, Joe went on to a more lucrative career as a research sound engineer. Joe continues to perform with the Redlegs, often at the No Name Bar in downtown Sausalito. He lives with his wife Donna at Waldo Point Harbor. “I just tricked the bad guys.”

Heather
Heather

Heather Wilcoxon is the artist. She first came to the waterfront as an art student and continued on the academic track earning a Master’s Degree at the San Francisco Art Institute and teaching at UC Berkeley. The quirky characters in her paintings, simultaneously playful and brutal, have earned her prestigious awards and gallery representation. Heather is the prime mover of restoration efforts on Mono Street Marsh. She lives at Galilee Harbor on the historic “Delta Queen.”

Supporting Characters The townsfolk and politicians have plenty to say about all this. 

ENDORSEMENTS -

The San Francisco Film Society

“The San Francisco Film Society proudly endorses this project and urges you to support it.”

Richardson’s Bay Maritime Association

“This film will be a tool to give the next generation an understanding of the history and the difficulties they will face and the successful strategies they will need to continue the preservation fight."

Sausalito Historical Society

“The “Houseboat Wars” era was a defining period when Sausalito’s long-time practice of living on the water was rigorously challenged. The successful and tenacious efforts to maintain the right to live on the water provided the bridge that allows the houseboat community to thrive today. We look forward to the completion of Ms. Dolan’s film so that this particular period can be shared and discovered by all of the community and beyond.”

Galilee Harbor Community Association

“We sincerely hope that our story may be useful to communities facing similar redevelopment pressures."

San Francisco Bay Marinas For All

"We are so glad that Marianne Dolan has produced this wonderful historical and very timely documentary.  It has allowed us to learn from those that came before us."

Risks and challenges

Houseboat Wars has been funded to the point where it is now 95% complete. The Kickstarter funds will enable me to hire technicians in sound design and standards conversion which will make it suitable for submission to film festivals and distributors. While we expect acceptance at some film festivals and expect that exposure to lead to distribution to domestic and international television, these outcomes are not guaranteed. Screening at interested community groups are already taking place. DVD sales are guaranteed as evidenced by a waiting list that grows daily.

The successful marketing of an independent film is always strongly dependent on successful application and selection to prestigious film festivals both domestically and internationally. We feel that although an unknown at present because of current interest in sea level rise adaptive living solutions and population growth solutions this is a very timely historic documentary.

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Funding period

- (22 days)