Process Paper

            After deciding to start my project, the first obstacle was to find a topic. I asked many people what popped first into their minds as a great debate or diplomatic event in history. I wrote all of these down and after gathering many ideas, I began crossing off any less desirable topics and finally whittled it down to one: the debate over whether or not to dam Hetch Hetchy Valley. I liked doing a nature based topic because I am a Boy Scout and love camping and learning about wilderness survival. Additionally, my parents have cultivated my love of the outdoors my whole life. Our family has gone on many camping trips including several at State and National parks. So when I heard about what had happened to the Hetch Hetchy Valley, it was hard to believe.
             I conducted my research in many ways, utilizing letters, emails, books, websites, and databases. Through letters and emails I contacted the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the municipal water company which controls the Hetch Hetchy water system. I also contacted, through business letters, the National Parks Service, the California State Archives, and the California Indian Museum. I also combed through information on all their websites. Additionally, I contacted through e-mails, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, descendants of the natives who had inhabited Hetch Hetchy Valley, and the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein. I took notes on biographies of John Muir, as well as many expert articles and primary sources from websites and databases such as the Library of Congress, HighBeam and the Sierra Club. Finally, I used many videos I found on YouTube and other sites. During my research, I came across a piece of music written specifically about the Hetch Hetchy Valley.
            I selected the website category because I had done a website project before and had made it to the state-level competition for National History Day. I created my project, first, by accessing the National History Day web portal and creating an account. I then proceeded to pick a website theme that matched my topic and started creating the different pages. Next, I made the annotated bibliography of the sources I had. The most work intensive portion was writing, editing and proofreading the text. The last job was to embed pictures and videos into the site. I embedded videos using the Weebly Pro software after capturing and shortening video files.       
            My project is based on the debate portion of the 2011 theme, Debate and Diplomacy in history. The debate over whether or not to put a dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley was fought over for many years. The debate continues today, but now it is a question over whether or not to remove the dam and restore the valley to its former state. The verbal battle between Preservationists like John Muir and Conservationists like Gifford Pinchot was a bitter one and led to many successes and failures. The consequences of the damming had positives and negatives for both sides, but oddly the losers of the debate, the Preservationists, may have benefited the most in the long run, using Hetch Hetchy as a rally cry against National Park alteration and destruction.