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Dot Fisher Smith 1996 - file photo

Film follows life of activist

Eighty-two-year-old Ashland activist Dot Fisher-Smith is the subject of a new documentary film.

"Dot: An Ordinary Life, an Extraordinary Person" will premiere at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 at Havurah Shir Hadash, 185 N. Mountain Ave., Ashland. Tickets, $15, are available at Paddington Station, Music Coop and Treehouse Books in Ashland.

Fisher-Smith has spent much of her life protesting injustice, but probably her most famous moment came in 1996 when she was chained by the neck to a logging truck near the Croman Mill in Ashland.

She and 12 others were arrested that day for protesting one of a hundred timber sales Congress had exempted from environmental constraints and administrative challenges. A Mail Tribune photo of Fisher-Smith with a bicycle lock around her neck flashed around the world, evoking sympathy, humor and support for the archetypal "little old lady" raging nonviolently against the machine.

"The picture made people stop and think," Fisher-Smith recalls from her Ashland home. "I had people come up to me and thank me and say it's what made them get informed about the rape of the ancient forests and the heedlessness of the timber industry."

Director Pat Somers and producer Willow Denker say the film shows how much a difference one thoughtful, commited citizen can make in the world.

"She's an example of how to live your life in ways that are consistent with what you believe," says Somers.

Somers and Denker plan to show the film at festivals and possibly on public or cable television.

The film goes back to segregation-era Louisiana, where Fisher-Smith, a Jew, was raised. She worked in New York, was a Foreign Service wife in Iran, had children in Mill Valley, Calif., in the 1950s. In 1967, her life changed. She took up yoga, tried LSD and backpacked in the wilderness. She protested the draft and fasted at the Oakland Induction Center, earning her and other protesters 10 days in jail.

Like so many of the group loosely classified as boomer-peacenik-hippies, Fisher-Smith dropped out of political work and sought inner peace and simplicity with the back-to-the-land movement of the early '70s, buying land near Wolf Creek and living and farming communally.

She moved to Ashland in the early '80s.

— John Darling, for the Mail Tribune

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