When Dick Goin turned six, the Dust Bowl ravaged his family farm. His folks, hungry and desperate, took him and his sisters west. There, they found the Elwha River, where the family survived on salmon. Fishing became as natural to Goin as eating, breathing, surviving.
Goin matured fishing that river—and every river on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Even as venture capitalists built two hydroelectric dams blocking the salmons’ path to the upstream breeding grounds, he fished. After earning his high school diploma, he found work in one of the mills powered by the dams. He worked at that mill every day for 41-and-a-half years. Whenever he could, he fished. Goin noticed a change in the river as days passed. The salmon that had nurtured him and his family began to disappear. Some were even placed on the Endangered Species List. The dams stood as a concrete wall blocking their return.
So began one millworker’s lifelong struggle to free a river. Filmmaker Jennifer Galvin elegantly tells the story of Goin’s life of accidental advocacy in her documentary The Memory of Fish.
“Young people wanted to listen to him,” Galvin says. “People his age did too. It’s just the way he interacted with people.”
Galvin spent six years constructing The Memory of Fish. She will present the North Carolina premiere of the award-winning documentary on Saturday, September 9, at The Collider in downtown Asheville, with a reception that begins at 6 p.m. The event is sponsored by Hunter Subaru.
“We don’t get a lot of second chances in life and a part of the beauty of this story is that Dick, in his lifetime, saw the river get a second chance,” Galvin says. “I want to bring that message to The Collider, which tackles something as big and as daunting as climate change.”
Dick Goin passed away in 2015. His legacy swims through the Elwha River. “People think, ‘How can I make a difference?’” Galvin says. “I watch Dick and his persistence and constant observation of his home. I find it inspiring. I think a lot of audiences will too.”
The Collider is located at 1 Haywood Street. Proceeds from the screening benefit the Thomas R. Karl Internship Program to develop the next generation of climate solution leaders. For tickets, visit thecollider.org/internship-fundraiser.