Becoming California Premieres Sept. 10

Documentary tells epic story of environmental change

In California a new story of environmental change is emerging. It is a story that tells how nature and civilization are no longer adversaries but partners, together creating healthy environments amid vibrant economies.

A new documentary funded largely by the National Science Foundation offers this hopeful vision for a sustainable future in its public television premiere showing Wednesday, Sept. 10 on PBS station KQED 9 (San Francisco/Bay Area).

Narrated by Jane Fonda with original music by the jazz musician Pat Metheny, Becoming California takes audiences on an epic journey of change across 250 million years of natural history and examines Californians’ relationship with their environment.

Director and producer Kit Tyler brings the story of environmental change to life through stunning aerials and cinematography across the state and interviews with more than 40 leaders in science, education and business.

The two-hour film tells the story in three acts. Assembling California illustrates how California’s geologic past and how it came to be one of the most resource-rich and biologically diverse places on Earth – and how the rapid build-up of carbon dioxide on the planet today portends catastrophe for many species, from coast redwoods to oysters grown in Drake’s Bay.

Reinventing California shows how the large-scale and often reckless exploitation of those resources – gold, oil, timber, rangelands, salmon and water – made California the wealthiest, most populated and most radically changed region in North America.

The third act, Reconciling California, begins with the somber admission that we have almost completely transformed California. Yet rather than dwell on what has been lost, the last hour highlights opportunities for meeting nature half way – like turning Bay Area rooftops into living meadows, revitalizing the Los Angeles River and removing old logging roads from redwood forests to reconnect their fragmented ecosystems.

Becoming California is scheduled for broadcast later this month and early October on public television stations in Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego.

The production is part of the California Environmental Legacy Project, a pioneering initiative that uses artful storytelling and state-of-the art digital media to raise public understanding of environmental change and stimulate a new culture of stewardship. Sacramento State and Humboldt State University are the lead institutions. Collaborators on the project include California State Parks, the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.


Upcoming Bay Area broadcasts (see KQED schedule here)

  • KQED 9: Wednesday, Sept. 10, 10 p.m.
  • KQED 9: Thursday, Sept. 11, 4 a.m.
  • KQED Life: Thursday, Sept. 11, 9 p.m.
  • KQED Life: Friday, Sept. 12, 3 a.m.
  • KQED World: Saturday, Sept. 13, 10 p.m.
  • KQED World: Sunday, Sept. 14, 3 p.m.

 Premiere broadcasts elsewhere

Los Angeles

  • KOCE, Thursday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m.
  • KOCE Plus, Sunday, Sept. 28, 10 p.m.
  • KLCS, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m.


  • KVIE, Monday, Oct. 6, 10 p.m.

San Bernardino

  • KVCR, Thursday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m.

San Diego

  • KPBS, Sunday, Oct. 19, 10 p.m.



Additional information:

Media contact:

Jim Baxter, Executive Producer, (530) 902-7259

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