Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 29, 2011.

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Photo/Record/write/ 6 pieces on Polar Bear; Wolf; Beluga Whale from an Inuit POV for Living on Earth (heard on 80% of NPR stations).

About North Knife 

I am an independent producer and writer for Public Radio International’s Living on Earth, which is heard on more than 300 Public Radio stations (80% of the NPR market). This August, I have a-once-in-a-lifetime chance to take my sound gear and my cameras to Hudson Bay and head out, on foot, among polar bears at the mouth of the Seal River; don a drysuit and swim frigid water to find beluga whales; walk the tundra among caribou, nesting ptarmigan, arctic foxes; search for wild wolves in the deep woods of North Knife Lake. 

Perhaps the most important thing I will do in the arctic will be the time I spend with Inuit hunters in and around the far north community of Arviat. The relationship between traditional hunters and their prey is as important a part of the picture as anything else. Inuit lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years, exterminating not a single thing. These are the people to whom the land belongs.  They know it and the wildlife there better than anyone does or ever will. It is their perspective I want to reveal.

I will return with enough photography and sound to write, produce and record at least 6 radio segments for national distribution. 

Why this fieldwork is different, and important

What I do is different from most wildlife programming. The camera is my notebook.  Image is the raw material for what I do, not the end product. High-speed stills allow me to record what the human eye is too slow, and the video camera (contrary to what you might expect) too superficial to see. My true work is my writing, and my on air performance of that written work. 

If fully funded, the expedition will take place August 2011 in the midst of that brief period above latitude 58 degrees when the tundra is in flower and open water is ice-free. It will be a chance to catch a glimpse of what the arctic may look like all the time within another couple of decades, which almost automatically raises questions of what will and will not be able to survive. There is a real question of whether the remaining Inuit can survive the coming change. 

But it is not my job to bring you the dark and dire. You can get that anywhere.  What you will be hard-pressed to find is the visceral, emotive experience of what it is like to be in eye contact with wild places and the wild things that live there – things most people never get to see. It is my job - on the broad shoulders of my words and the images and sounds I record - to carry you there with me. With your assistance, that is exactly what I am going to deliver.

In the end it is all and only about eye contact. If you aren't face to face with wildlife there is no hope of real understanding.  To know me look me in the eye.  That message extends to everything that has a face and this knowing is what I strive to acquire and what I intend to share, with you.   

Project Almost Completely Funded

On the strength of my past body of work, Churchill Wild, the premier wildlife company in Hudson Bay (and the only people who can put you on the ground with polar bears), is providing the guides I will need to keep me safe and to get me where I have to go. Churchill Wild is also covering all my in-country expenses, which are substantial, and is arranging transport to the Inuit community at Arviat.  

However, there are critical costs that remain and these are not yet covered.  Living on Earth has no production budget, no travel budget, no seed money to give me. I always find myself scrambling and this time especially, to cross that last piece of ground, to get me to Hudson Bay with the additional equipment I have to have, I need your participation and your help.

Here’s what I’ve already raised for this trip (more than 85%) and what I’m asking you to provide.  I’ve tapped every resource I have, so your help is very real, and necessary.

What I already have:

Equipment

 - All sound gear, camera gear, tripods, long lenses except as noted under “What I Need”

Total Value of Equipment on hand:                                                              $24,000

Soft Costs

-  Guides, shelter, provisions in Churchill and Hudson’s Bay courtesy of Churchill Wild

-  Bush plane to/from North Knife Lake for fieldwork on wolves courtesy of Doug Webber, ice pilot and founder of Webber’s Lodges

-  Airfare Winnipeg to Churchill courtesy of Travel Manitoba

-  Bush plane to and accommodations and guides at Arviat, Nunavut.

Total value of contributed location expenses & airfare:                            $30,000

Total already raised:                                                                                    $54,000

What I need:

Equipment

 - Underwater camera housing & lights, wide-angle lens, [Essential for photographing beluga whales in Hudson Bay], spare equipment rentals [In event of equipment failure – it’s a long way to B&H Photo from North Knife Lake!], extra high capacity compact flashcards.

Total Hard Costs$4360

Soft Costs

 - Travel to/from Winnipeg [transit point for Hudson Bay], lodging and meals in Winnipeg [Includes allowance for likely weather delays], shipping & crating my equipment [too much to carry this time!].                                                         $1875

TOTAL                                                                                                        $6,235

NOTE: Kickstarter does not allow goal reductions. I STILL need to raise $8,625 to fund this project. Excess funds will now go to post production and my next project and toward a new premium for all contributors of $25 and above.  Please see Update #3. 

Your questions and comments are greatly appreciated.  Please email me at MSL@MarkSethLender.com.  And thanks for "Breaking the Ice!"

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    3 backers

    Membership in the Arctic Circle, which entitles you to email notification of my posts to the photographic trip blog, direct from Hudson Bay, and my sincere thanks. Every single contribution counts.

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    4 backers

    Membership in the Arctic Circle, plus your name on my website donor list (if you don’t want your name shown you can be listed as “Anonymous.”).

  • Pledge $25 or more
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    7 backers

    Download of the long version of my audio recording of Allen’s Hummingbirds roosting in a eucalyptus grove on Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, plus everything above.

  • Pledge $75 or more
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    5 backers

    Signed copy of my new book of wildlife writings, Salt Marsh Diary, a year on the Connecticut Coast, personalized thank-you e-postcard with a large JPEG image of one of my photographs, plus everything above. [International donors please contact me for shipping costs]

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    4 backers

    The 4 X 4: Four of my 4-sided full color postcards, with a close sequence of 4 images of a mountain bluebird landing (the sequence in the video in this funding request), plus everything above. [International donors, please contact me for shipping costs]

  • Pledge $500 or more
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    1 backer

    Your choice of one of my best photographs (Fuji Chromira print) from North Knife (signed strictly limited edition of 50, Museum Mounted, 8 X 12 image or larger, plus everything above. [International donors, please contact me for shipping costs]

  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    1 backer

    Your choice of another of my best photographs (Fuji Chromira print) from North Knife (signed strictly limited edition of 50, Museum Mounted, 8 X 12 image or larger) plus if successfully obtained, a hydrophone recording of singing beluga whales, plus everything above. [International donors, please contact me for shipping costs]

  • Pledge $2,500 or more
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    1 backer

    One-on-one, 3 - 4 hour photographic fieldtrip with me to a Connecticut coastal marsh (September 2011) plus homemade lunch on my front porch (yes, I can cook), plus everything above. [You can bring a friend on this one if you like]

Funding period

- (60 days)