A pair of nesting osprey on the polluted Kalamazoo River have come to symbolize the returning health of the river for an adoring pubilc
"Hope is the thing with feathers" - Emily Dickinson
When a pair of Osprey hatched and fledged three healthy chicks, in an abandoned lot on a contaminated stretch of the Kalamazoo River, directly across from a PCB landfill, it captured the imagination of a community - and gave rise to hope.
The hope that the beleaguered Kalamazoo River, once the waste stream for a booming paper industry, is finally on the mend. Hope that the PCBs that have long contaminated the river's food-chain are no longer a health threat to humans or fish-eating raptors like the Osprey and the Bald Eagle.
For a river that used to be referred to as "old stinky", and recently suffered the worst, inland oil spill in United States history, these hopes are only natural.
But these hopes are in fact really questions. Questions brought about by the unlikely presence of a charismatic bird living in an abandoned lot that was once the site of a polluting paper-mill.
This is their story. And the only way we can tell this story is with the support of the community. Join our team and make a pledge today!
WHEN HOPE HATCHES is an hour long, urban wildlife documentary about a celebrated family of Osprey and their intimate relationship with an "environmentally challenged" river.
The documentary is a natural follow up to my first urban wildlife documentary, ANIMALS AMONG US.
Following a local premiere in Kalamazoo sometime in early 2013, the video is geared towards broadcast on PBS affiliates in Michigan, especially WGVU in Grand Rapids. Following Michigan broadcasts we will consider national broadcast as well as entry into the film-festival circuit.
WHERE YOU COME IN
I began taping the Osprey last spring when the chicks first popped their heads up from the tangle of sticks and twigs. I realized there was something potentially ironic about the Osprey nesting in the former site of a paper mill that once polluted the river with toxins that may have actually hurt Osprey in the past. Perhaps the situation has come full circle.
I've since logged nearly a hundred hours of footage of the birds, and accumulated hours of great coverage, including great interviews with onlookers, footage of the PCB cleanup just upstream, and some prime footage of the surrounding environment. We're well on our way, but there is a lot of work left to do.
YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS WILL SUPPORT THE FOLLOWING:
- Taping the Osprey when they return in 2012
Interviews with experts on Osprey, the K-River and PCBs
- Researching and script-writing
- Hiring camera operators for interviews & special shoots
- Equipment rental
Design, authoring & manufacturing of DVDs
- Purchase a cellular, remote camera for monitoring a new nest platform
A QUICK REVIEW OF KICKSTARTER
WHY All-or-Nothing Funding (As explained by Kickstarter)
Every Kickstarter project must be fully funded before its time expires or no money changes hands. Why?
1. It's less risk for everyone. If you need $5,000, it's tough having $2,000 and a bunch of people expecting you to complete a $5,000 project.
2. It allows people to test concepts (or conditionally sell stuff) without risk. If you don't receive the support you want, you're not compelled to follow through. This is huge!
3. It motivates. If people want to see a project come to life, they're going to spread the word.
A PLOT TWIST FOR THE BIRDS
There's a compelling twist in this unfolding drama: the Kalamazoo Nature Center, working with Georgia-Pacific (the owners of the property), is orchestrating a relocation of the bird's nesting platform to a safer spot across the river. That new spot happens to be right on top of the landfill!
The relocation is to proactively avoid potential conflicts from the construction of a new Kalamazoo Valley River Trail that will run directly next to the Osprey's current nesting pole.
We'll be documenting the entire operation. And if the birds return this Spring (cross our fingers), and take to the new platform (cross our fingers), and lay new eggs (cross our fingers) it will be a moving conclusion to the film. But this is a documentary, and any variation on that scenario provides workable threads for our storyline.
Another beautiful dimension to this story is how the Osprey have become great ambassadors to the natural world, albeit in a rather "un-natural" setting. Some of the people I've interviewed professed to never having seen a large bird or animal outside of a zoo. It's extraordinary that a pair of Osprey, in an apparent wasteland on the outskirts of town, have become a gateway to the wonders of the animal kingdom.
MORE INFO ON A DIET OF PCBs
The lot where the Osprey have been nesting happens to be the former site of a paper mill that heavily polluted the river with a variety of manufacturing wastes, the worst being polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The cumulative pollution from all the paper mills along the Kalamazoo River earned it the unfortunate designation as a federal Superfund site. Specifically, it was the PCBs that contaminated the food chain, impacting the reproductive health of fish eating raptors and some mammals. Much like the effects of DDT and/or DDE, the accumulated PCBs in a raptors system can weaken their egg-shells, which then collapse under the weight of an incubating parent. Thus, no chicks.
Even though dumping has been prohibited for decades now, and the river runs relatively clean, PCBs still remain in the sediment and continue to cycle through the food chain. They're the reason for fish advisories all along the contaminated stretch of the river. Ask anyone about eating Kalamazoo River fish and the general rule of thumb is: don't eat the fish!
Although not as severely impacted as the Bald Eagle, the Osprey have none the less become a symbol of hope for the returning health of the river. Considering a portion of their diet comes directly from the fish in the river, most people equate three healthy chicks with a healthy river. But are they really an accurate barometer? How are the bald eagles nesting along the same stretch of the river doing? Interviews with experts in the field will shed a necessary light on this looming question.
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!
Thank you for exploring our project and pledging to see it through to completion. The beauty of the Kickstarter way is that it creates way more interest, investment, and anticipation surrounding the completion of the project. For a an independent videographer, this is a perfect platform for funding a home-grown documentary. We couldn't do it without you!
ART PLEDGE REWARDS
For the bigger donors we wanted to offer some very unique gifts, and of course gifts that relate back to the themes of the Osprey and the River. So we decided to work with local artists whose art is intimately connected to the Kalamazoo River or aquatic themes. The resulting works of art, all in their unique way, reflect a love and passion for the wonders of our Kalamazoo River, their inhabitants, or the Great Lakes that are the final destinations for our inland rivers.
Below are images of the actual artwork large donors will receive.
PLEDGE $500 OR MORE - You will receive an original, hand-carved fish plaque by Craig "Curly" Spink. Curly's awesome, folkart inspired fish carvings are what he calls "aesthetic versions" of traditional fish decoy art, used for actually luring fish in for a catch. The example below is a brook trout.
PLEDGE $1,000 OR MORE - You will receive an original 17 x 20" oil painting of the Kalamazoo River (or related theme) by Brent Spink. One example is the beautiful "Floodplain", a vibrant, impressionistic vision of irises growing in a rich floodplain of the Kalamazoo River. You can see more of Brent's captivating, plein air paintings by clicking HERE.
PLEDGE $2,500 OR MORE - You'll receive the elegant "Gap" by Mary Brodbeck. A beautiful 14 x 20" Japanese woodblock print of Lake Superior with two towering granite cliffs. Mary specializes in moku hanga - woodblock prints made using all traditional Japanese methods and materials. Most of Mary's prints are of the Great Lakes. Click HERE to see Mary's website.
PLEDGE $5,000 OR MORE - You will receive the "Kalamazoo River Songline" by Lad Hanka. A stunning 60 x 24" etching of the Kalamazoo River. This epic print "traces the Kalamazoo River from it's source near Jackson, Michigan, past the oil spill at Marshall, over the many dams and into Lake Michigan at Saugatuck. It depicts the rich biota encountered along the way as highpoints that might appear in an indigenous songline for the traveler traversing it's length" - Lad Hanka. Click HERE to see Lad's website.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
MINNOW. Yes! You will be honored and recognized in the master donor list on the Osprey website and receive an original, desktop wallpaper of the Osprey. Thank you!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
FAWN. You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list, receive a desktop wallpaper, AND you'll receive an original postcard with a beautiful photograph of the Osprey by Matt. Thank you!Estimated delivery:
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KINGFISHER. You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list, receive a desktop wallpaper and postcard, AND a DVD of the finished documentary! Ain't that what it's all about! Thank you!Estimated delivery:
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MINK. You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list, receive a desktop wallpaper and postcard, DVD of the finished documentary, PLUS one extra DVD for friends and family! Thank you!Estimated delivery:
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SMALL MOUTH BASS! You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list, receive a desktop wallpaper and postcard, 2 DVDs of the documentary, PLUS a custom T-shirt with an original design of the Osprey and a caption of great wisdom and/or wit. Thank you!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
KESTREL. You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list, receive a desktop wallpaper and postcard, 2 DVDs, an Osprey T-shirt, PLUS a signed, 16 x 22" archival print of any one of Matt's wildlife photos from his personal website. Not only will you be recognized in the master donor list on the website, you'll be listed in the Thank You's in the ending credits of the video. Just think: your name on screen! Thank you!Estimated delivery:
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EAGER BEAVER. You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list and ending credits. You'll receive a desktop wallpaper and postcard, 2 DVDs, an Osprey T-shirt, a signed, 16 x 22" archival print, AND 2 reserved seats at the premiere. On top of THAT, you'll receive an original, hand-carved fish plaque by master Kalamazoo woodcarver and craftsman, Craig "Curly" Spink (see REWARD images to the left) .Thank you!Estimated delivery:
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3 backers Limited (2 left of 5)
GREAT BLUE HERON. You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list and ending credits. You'll receive a desktop wallpaper and postcard, 2 DVDs, an Osprey T-shirt, a signed wildlife print, 2 reserved seats at the premiere. PLUS, 2 extra reserved seats at the premiere, AND an original oil painting of the Kalamazoo River (or related theme) by master Kalamazoo painter, Brent Spink. (see REWARD images to the left). Thank you!Estimated delivery:
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0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)
MAMA OSPREY. You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list. You'll receive a desktop wallpaper and postcard, 2 DVDs, an Osprey T-shirt, a signed, wildlife print, 4 reserved seats at the premiere, AS WELL AS exclusive listing as an Associate Producer in the end credits of the video. You've earned that recognition. PLUS, your local artists reward is a limited edition woodblock print of Lake Superior by master Kalamazoo printmaker, Mary Brodbeck. (see REWARD images to the left). Thank you!Estimated delivery:
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0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
BIG DADDY OSPREY. You'll be honored and recognized in the master donor list. You'll receive a desktop wallpaper and postcard, 2 DVDs, an Osprey T-shirt, a signed, wildlife print, 4 reserved seats at the premiere, PLUS exclusive listing as an Executive Producer in the beginning and end credits. You've REALLY helped finance this endeavor. PLUS, your local artist reward is the award winning print "Kalamazoo River Songline" by master printmaker, Ladislav Hanka, of Kalamazoo. (see REWARD images to the left).Estimated delivery:
- (19 days)