Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 19.

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The tar sands. A drama of epic proportions that we'll tell story by story over one year.

We met our first goal on New Year's Eve. Your continued support will mean we can afford to make a film to go along with our reporting.

Oil workers from Canada's 2 coasts. Photo by Zack Embree
Oil workers from Canada's 2 coasts. Photo by Zack Embree

The Power of Story

The Vancouver Observer's award-winning team seeks to create one year of stories about the people, places and conflicts associated with Canada's tar sands that go deeper than daily journalism.

Story-by-story, we'll illuminate the lives of workers in the tar sands, the love-hate relationship with industry on Canada's West Coast, the resistance by First Nations leaders, and the difficult relationship between activists and the industry.

We believe that stories can make all the difference in reaching peoples' hearts and minds.

And we hope that you believe this, too.

"Refine it here." Graffiti on highway leading into the tar sands. Photo by Zack Embree
"Refine it here." Graffiti on highway leading into the tar sands. Photo by Zack Embree

What this Kickstarter Will Do

This Kickstarter will give us the opportunity to go to the tar sands and along the route of proposed tar sands pipelines.  It'll allow us to: 

  • Go deep into peoples' lives: First Nations, environmentalists, academics, those impacted by pollution from the tar sands, those profiting personally from its economic benefits. 

  • Visit oil workers and environmentalists in their homes and capture the conversations taking place over dinner tables and to tell these stories to our audience.

  • Provide an ongoing record of the challenges environmental groups are facing as they battle tar sands projects and the changes the Canadian government undergoes in its determination to get Canada's bitumen to Asian and U.S. markets.

  • Explore tar sands water pollution's affects on communities and families and look at what industry is doing to mitigate this.

The more funds we can raise, the better we can make  these stories.

What's the Vancouver Observer?

The Vancouver Observer's reporting is independent. We don't accept advertising from oil companies or related industries and we aren't funded by the government or any political parties.  This may often mean that we will tell sides of the story that industry and government would prefer not to be told.

The Vancouver Observer reaches a monthly audience of 140,000 people. Our readers come from around the world with the largest concentration  in Canada and the United States. We engage with 35,000 people on social media. 

Our stories are referenced and/or aggregated by  Huffington Post, Postmedia, Bourque, The Tyee, The Globe and Mail, Sun News, Yahoo, The Real News, TruthOut, Foreign Affairs, DemocracyNow and The New York Times.   

Tar sands worker and family.  Photo by Zack Embree
Tar sands worker and family. Photo by Zack Embree

The Vancouver Observer was recognized by the Canadian Journalism Foundation with its prestigious Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2012 and an honourable mention by the foundation in 2013. CJF cited The Vancouver Observer for "courage", "accountability", "fairness",  and "accuracy", saying VO operates on small resources  and punches "far above its weight." 

STRETCH Goal: FILM

On New Year's Eve, less than 30 days after launching "The Tar Sands Reporting Project" on Kickstarter, we reached our first goal thanks to 283 amazing people. We're so grateful to have the opportunity to be reaching now for our next goal.

Bill Weaver (pictured below) shot our extraordinary Kickstarter video. Now, we want to take this Peabody award-winning filmmaker to where change really happens: in homes and at dinner tables across British Columbia.

Bill Weaver
Bill Weaver

It’s in this intimate setting where environmentalists, industrial workers, and ordinary people like you and me talk with each other about how we feel about the environment, the economy, our values our hopes, and our country's future.

Then, we'll take it back to the blockades, the corporate offices, the marches, the parties, and the gas pump -- where all of us put our talk into action.

With your help, we’ll produce and distribute a provocative film that will go beyond the issues, to the very DNA of change, and encourage constructive discussion across all points of view. It’s the only way we’re going to find the innovative solutions we so badly need.

New to Kickstarter? Here's how the process works. 

A person who supports a project is called a "backer." The process of giving money to the project is called a "pledge." In return for your pledge, we (the creators of the campaign) are able to offer "rewards," depending on the amount you pledge.

We're deeply grateful for support at whatever level is right for you. 

Pledge $25 and get a signed copy of Extract, our book on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline controversy.

You can also pledge $50 to receive a Tar Sands Reporting Project T-shirt. 

Pledge $350 or more and receive a print of Zack Embree's iconic photo from the 2013 Healing Walk in Fort McMurray. 

For a pledge of $350 or more, you'll receive a signed, limited edition poster of Zack Embree's iconic photograph
For a pledge of $350 or more, you'll receive a signed, limited edition poster of Zack Embree's iconic photograph

Get a special print of this photograph of the Spirit Bear of the Great Bear Rainforest when you pledge $500 or more.

Look who backed The Tar Sands Reporting Project!!!!

Ruth Ozeki, author, Tale for the Time Being, short-listed for 2013 Booker Prize for literature
Ruth Ozeki, author, Tale for the Time Being, short-listed for 2013 Booker Prize for literature
Grimes, electro music sensation, Tar Sands Reporting Project backer
Grimes, electro music sensation, Tar Sands Reporting Project backer
 

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Everything's harder in practice than it is in theory when it comes to creating great reporting.

These are stories unfolding out in the real world. Nothing is scripted, and anything can happen. This can turn out to be a really beautiful and amazing thing, but also a really trying, difficult and sometimes dangerous thing. We appreciate your patience and support through the year.

In traveling to the tar sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and in Northern BC along pipeline routes, it's bitter cold in winter, and conditions are unpredictable. This can make everything much harder.

Another challenge at this point is funding for completing the film we've started and would like to complete. We set our Kickstarter goal to cover the bare minimum of getting us back to the tar sands and to Northern B.C. and through a year of reporting and writing. It will NOT cover costs such as paying to have the film completed, or paying for short videos we really need to do along with the written stories.

So -- all funds beyond our goal will help greatly! They'll go toward film and video so we can craft the story in moving pictures, too, and get it out to the world.

Thank you for believing in this project and for being a part of telling this very important story.

FAQ

  • Backers, Friends,

    Thank you all for supporting The Tar Sands Reporting Project! Today Margaret Atwood tweeted about us, so we reached all sorts of new people! (Welcome!) Last week, Grimes asked her fans to support us, so we met a lot of new people through her, too. (Thank you, Grimes!)

    We've made remarkable progress over the past two weeks, but we still need to raise over $6,000 in to reach our goal. Remember that Kickstarter is all or nothing, so if we don't reach $32,000 we lose it all. If we can rapidly reach our goal, we can start reaching for our stretch goal, which is to make a film to go along with our reporting.

    Here's how you can help:

    - Post the project to Facebook and Twitter. If you do it today you can say, what a great way to celebrate the holiday!

    - Send emails to your friends encouraging them to support the project.

    Thank you again! With your help, we can reach our goal and get to work on The Tar Sands Reporting Project!

    All the best,
    Linda

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    53 backers

    ENORMOUS THANKS. We have your dollar. You have our love. We will stay in touch with you through the year and share exciting milestones.

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    57 backers

    We give you a big shout out on our twitter feed and we hope you inspire others to give $5, too. Just think, if all of our 27,000 twitter followers gave $5, what a wonderful thing that would be. So many shout outs, so much love.

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    109 backers

    For the price of a movie ticket, help us create stories that capture the depth and complexity of this epic drama. We’ll send you an email with our favourite quotes about the power of storytelling. It will include three tips on how to write a great story. We'll also give you a big shout out on social media.

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    171 backers

    A signed paperback copy of "Extract: The Pipeline Wars, Vol. 1 Enbridge."

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    69 backers

    What a great conversation starter whether you're in Manhattan or Regina! Wear it proudly across your chest! Tar Sands Reporting Project T-shirt.

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    29 backers

    What's your story? You will receive a call from a Vancouver Observer reporter who will interview you about what your hopes and dreams are for the energy future. We'll talk with you about what you think about when you fuel up your car, or see a catastrophic storm or imagine the future. You get our T-shirt, too.

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    23 backers

    You will be listed on credits at end of all the short videos VO produces as part of The Tar Sands Reporting project. You get a T-shirt and a book.

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    3 backers

    You will receive all previous rewards plus a limited edition poster by Zack Embree from the 2013 Healing Walk in Fort McMurray. You get a T-shirt, too.

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    10 backers

    An iconic photograph of the Spirit Bear that inhabits the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia will be your reward. You also get Tar Sands Reporting Project T-shirt, 1 signed book, and special mention on our "Tar Sands Reporting Project Supporters" page.

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    5 backers

    Become a VO environment reporter co-pilot. You'll get the chance to be a guest editor, joining our team on an assignment and helping us shape a story from the very start. For those who don't have time to jump into the co-pilot seat here is your alternate reward: you get a short (100-200 word) article on the Vancouver Observer profiling you or your business or your favourite non profit organization. Everybody at this level gets an iconic photograph of the Spirit Bear that inhabits the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Tar Sands Reporting Project T-shirt, 2 signed books.

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    1 backer

    Spend a day with the "Tar Sands Reporting Project" team, as we interview a local experts and a prominent environmentalist about the economic pros and cons of projects. End the day as our guest at dinner with our team. Or, you get a medium-sized (500 word) article on the Vancouver Observer profiling you or your business or your favourite non profit organization. You can also use this text on your website or however you wish, after we publish it. You also get a photograph of the Spirit Bear, 2 signed books, and 2 T-shirts.

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    1 backer

    For your INCREDIBLE generosity, join VO editor-in-chief Linda Solomon Wood on a trip to Fort McMurray to view the Alberta tar sands by air. We'll have plenty of time to talk over what we're seeing. Plus, you will receive all previous rewards. Travel to Ft. Mac and hotel at your expense. Coordinating schedules, we will make this happen before the end of 2014. You also get a photograph of the Spirit Bear, a 2013 Healing Walk poster, 2 signed books, and 4 T-shirts.

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    0 backers

    You become a Tar Sands Reporting Project Angel. Linda Solomon will come to your university, radio station, or business to talk about politics, government, media, and The Tar Sands Reporting Project. Plan a day of speeches, guest lectures, student gatherings, etc. (Travel and lodging additional. Subject to conflict-of-interest evaluation.) You also get a photograph of the Spirit Bear, a 2013 Healing Walk poster, 2 signed books, and 4 T-shirts.

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Funding period

- (40 days)