Hello friends and history lovers!
My name is Jennifer Goodland. Two years ago I started Big Year Colorado as a love letter to the cultures and communities of Colorado. To date I have been to and photographed over 700 different cities, towns, and ghost towns in this state alone.
While photography is the most obvious product, I also have built the Big Year Colorado Collection: thousands of artifacts, interviews, memoirs, and other items recording the widest possible diversity of Colorado life, all of it slated to go to the Auraria Library Archives & Special Collections Department so that future generations and scholars may learn about vanishing cultures and towns. Many of these items are one-of-a-kind, gathered with the help of local contacts. Far more valuable is the intangible benefit: a project that fosters a sense of historical importance for each town and community without requiring a building or a large population.
In far too many cases, I have visited and photographed a town... and the next year, the next month, or the next week, the town has disappeared due to fire or flood. Towns also experience a different kind of death before my eyes: the children move out, the schools and museums consolidate or vanish, the cultural institutions leave for lack of funding or patrons or both. The one holdout still left on Main Street dies, and his house crumbles from lack of attention. This is the kind of history that vanishes all too rapidly, and it is not the kind of history that can find a dollar amount to match its significance. It is my mission to ensure that every town has someone with the ability to research, document, and most importantly, ensure that they will be remembered. Where I cannot train local historians, I try to fill that role as best I can.
It has been important for me to self-fund this project from the beginning, even as the expenses reach more than $30,000 every year. I travel in a small camper and truck that lets me stay anywhere. I spend months away from my family - and, let's face it, any hope of a real job - every single year. I have been surrounded by tornadoes and stared down the most concerning end of a rifle (to be fair, by a very nice gentleman who just says hello that way). But I also hear people aching to have their histories recorded by someone, anyone, so that the towns their ancestors built won't be just a dot on an old map nobody knows anything about.
Right now this project is in serious jeopardy. Sixteen months ago, my husband of 18 years, David, started acting impulsively and out-of-character. He progressed to double, and then triple, vision. Eventually he could no longer stand, walk, drive, or exist without excruciating pain. He was forced to take disability from his job, reducing his pay. He was bounced from one specialist to another while also needing round-the-clock care. Our savings and investments vanished.
Eventually Swedish Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, determined that he had a very rare condition known as a Spontaneous Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak Syndrome. He had a large hole in the sheath that protects his spinal cord, and the fluid that cushions and pressurizes his brain as well as his spinal system leaked out throughout his body. His brain was sagging and resting on his spine.
Unfortunately the size and position of the hole left us with two possible specialists, none of whom worked in Colorado. We would have to drive to Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles where Dr. Wouter Schievink, director of Microvascular Neurosurgery, consented to operate. He found that the cause was a calcified disk from when David broke his back as a ten-year-old.
Awesome: David had the operation in late October. He is well on his way to a full, permanent recovery, and will return to work on December 9th. We are dealing well with lingering brain injury issues.
Not-so-Awesome: Between the reduced income, needing a caregiver, the expenses of three weeks on the road and staying close to Cedars-Sinai during hospitalization, and our prior financial commitments to Big Year, David and I are now at risk of losing everything we have worked to build: our house, the truck and camper I need for my work - and Big Year Colorado itself.
But you can help.
Risks and challenges
Your support, whether you decide to buy Big Year Colorado photos through Facebook or eBay, or support this Kickstarter, will mean that recovering from this crisis will take us months and not years.
I have built in a late delivery date for most reward levels to allow room for careful scheduling. I anticipate September as the latest date for delivery of all reward levels requiring travel or reshoots, March for anything requiring writing, research, and existing photography, and all prints will be sent out as soon as the project achieves full funding.
Should this project exceed funding, all money will be used to continue Big Year Colorado's mission.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)