Saving Lake Ontario- a love story
I visited the beach as a child, sampling a small piece of the lake as I pushed aside the dead alewives to go wading. As I grew older, sailing revealed the lake as a whole to me. It's wide waters and distant headlands drew me to explore it. I began to study it. The lake has revealed much and given me amazing gifts.
A famous French philosopher Jean Vanier once wrote “Love is not to do things for people. It is not to tell people what to do. It is to reveal.” That is the goal of this work. To show the lake's beauty, gifts, our thoughtless use of it, and to reveal an alternate way and possible new relationship with our water.
Why a video?
Lake Ontario is part of the planet's largest fresh water ecosystem. It has shaped the history economy and culture of two nations. And it's in trouble. It is now the most polluted of the five great lakes. Before any problems can be solved, people must become aware of them. Once art and science show the way, collective action can begin the healing of our great lake. This documentary will help to raise awareness and suggest directed effective individual and group action on behalf of our water.
The Plan For the Documentary
With the help of an environmental studies under grad named Audrey Royce and an old schooner named "Sara B," I will take the viewers on a voyage of discovery on an inland sea. Viewers will learn of the lake's many gifts to the region as they witness a great lake's power and beauty. They will also see first hand some of the problems that threaten its life and the health of more nine million people who drink its water. After the cruise, we will talk with three women “water warriors” working on the lake's behalf.
Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor at Fredonia State University, was first to document the presence of massive amounts of plastic in the Great Lakes. Her widely publicized findings have already resulted in legislation banning some types of plastic in the Great Lakes.
Joanne Hemeister has worked with others for nearly forty years on the Valley of the Casks, the worst radioactive waste dump in the Great Lakes basin. Digitup.org and the West Valley Alliance took the federal government to court several times and helped to initiate a multi billion dollar clean up program.
Jean Siracusa, a biology instructor at a two year college, began an informal trash pick up effort along a Lake Ontario tributary twenty years ago. That grew into a non profit organization that has transformed a neglected neighborhood dumping site into a healthy wetland and stream, an example of what can be done in concert with nature's own resilience that could be duplicated in many other locations. She once told me while discussing her work “never hold back love”.
We will then interview an internationally known author who will explain a possible game changer for water resource management everywhere- a revival of the ancient wisdom of The Commons and with it a restoration and re-inforcement of the doctrine of the public trust. The Commons and public trust doctrine are based on respect and responsibility and were employed for thousands of years by indigenous First Nation peoples to manage land and water resources for the good of all rather than for the profit of a few.
Together we can clean up this lake. We must clean up this lake. There is no other choice. We are water, too. If our lakes and rivers are tainted and toxic, so, too, will our bodies brains and spirits be.
At the end of the video we will share a possible grassroots action plan promoted by the Blue Planet Project for individuals, groups, and voters to help begin the healing
More About The Issues-
Lake Ontario, is now stressed by invasive species and multiple pollutants from the upper lakes and its own watershed. Seventeen nuclear facilities and two radioactive waste repositories exist in its watershed. Another nuclear nightmare, one of the biggest collections of rad waste in the Northeast, lies just upstream. It is now leaking strontium 90. The cumulative impacts of chemical and agricultural wastes from runoff and sewage along with on going invasions of non native animals and plants are pushing the lake's ecosystem to a tipping point and threaten our own health.
Many of the most urgent issues on Lake Ontario are related to energy production. Early abundant hydropower at Niagara Falls fostered chemical intensive manufacturing and helped fuel the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb. Military and industrial activity created large amounts of hazardous wastes. A giant hydropower dam at the lake's east end has caused the near extinction of one of the lake's most valuable and abundant fishes.
During our cruise and on expeditions ashore we will see restoration and clean up work. We will see how outreach innovation and litigation has prompted funding and legislation. We will also learn how a growing grassroots “open source everything” movement is building support for sustainable management of our shared waters as a true commons.
How we will raise awareness
This video will be made available at no charge to schools, museums, and other interested groups and DVD's will be produced and placed in libraries throughout the Lake Ontario region. If our campaign exceeds the minimum goal, we will use excess funds to begin production and seek partners for an expanded version of the video to be distributed to regional public TV affiliates in the U.S. and Canada.
We expect to complete the 40 minute version for free classroom distribution throughout the Lake Ontario region by early 2016. We will make the video available for free download to contributors and ultimately to any other interested parties.
We have begun filming this spring, documenting the rich natural life of this glorious body of water and its watershed. After recording seasonal and shoreline highlights and lake effect weather, we'll photograph visual evidence of some of the lake's problems during the cruise to Canada aboard Sara B. After the interviews, we'll edit and prepare the work for distribution.
Susan Peterson Gateley (www.susanpgateley.com) scriptwriter, and co-producer. I have extensive background on Lake Ontario's maritime history and environment and have published a half dozen books on it. I have a MS in fisheries science, have sailed Lake Ontario for forty years, work as a charter captain and sailing instructor and sometimes skipper of Sara B. I believe I can reach a larger audience through a video documentary than has been possible with print media. I and my husband have already invested several thousand dollars of our own money into this effort and have raised approximately 3000 dollars worth of pledged services and volunteer contributions.
Chris Gateley is our project's ace software wiz, camera man, back office support, UAV pilot, all around handyman, co-producer, engineer and schooner skipper. Chris is the number one problem solver on the team.
Our student-apprentice sailor, Audrey Royce, another upstate New York native like myself, is an undergraduate in environmental studies at Cayuga Community College. Audrey will be our investigator and seeker of solutions for Lake Ontario.
Brad Muise is a volunteer consultant, camera man, and educator who is a curriculum development specialist at Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Joseph Spaid is a project consultant and advisor and an experienced producer and video maker of award winning documentary Kiran Over Mongolia and other credits
Anna Halldorsdottir is a project consultant on sound design and engineering
Lee Hanford is a project consultant and advisor who is also an instructor of visual arts and working painter and board member of nonprofit Fair Haven Community Art Center
Scientific Consultants Dr. John Casselman Queens University, Dr. Ed Mills, Cornell, Dr. Sherri Mason, Fredonia State U, and Eugenia Siracusa Cayuga Community College instructor ( Mason and Siracusa will also be interviewed) members of the Schooner Sara B LLC for their assistance and support of the vessel
We are seeking 5500 total for the project.
Some of the funding will be used for travel and interviews in New York and Canada- approximately $2000
Also for editing, sound, and music production costs -approximately $2000
And some will be needed for distribution, presentations and travel associated with same - approximately $1000
$ 500 will cover Kickstarter's percentage and other fees and costs associated with incentives and other expenses
Thanks for your interest!
Risks and challenges
As we work towards completion and (with your help) to raise funds to finish the film, we’ll be pursuing distribution and partnerships for same. Another challenge is that of the great lake itself. We will be cruising it aboard a small boat for some of the filming, and travel may be subject to delays and schedule changes as we must always respect the water.
All delivery dates are estimates and subject to change at any time. However, we have a dedicated team behind this campaign. If we are behind schedule, we will promptly notify everyone.
- (30 days)