About this project
Today, 12/21, we reached our initial funding goal with FOUR DAYS STILL TO GO thanks to the amazing community of Monarch Movers that has gathered here on Kickstarter!
And...in many ways, this is just the beginning!
Today, the winter solstice, is a perfect day for new beginnings--it's a time when the earth turns to preparation for new life from the midst of a deep, slumbering winter. It's the beginning of an awakening...
To view "Moving for Monarchs: The Awakening," click here!
The next four days could be extraordinary. Will you join us in seeing just how far we can go?
Move with us!
With deep gratitude,
The M4M Team
Moving for Monarchs: The Dance of Life
"Saving the world one butterfly at a time..."
Sounds ambitious, right? Right! But what if we could save the world one small butterfly at a time, and what if we could do it by dancing and planting gardens? Perhaps you’re going to say, “What?! That’s too easy! Saving the world is supposed to be complicated!” Well, remember the expression “the butterfly effect”? That idea that small actions can have big repercussions? Let us show you what we mean...
The Problem: From 2012-2013 the North American monarch butterfly population declined 59%. These creatures are quietly disappearing at an unprecedented rate; most people don’t know it’s happening or that their disappearance has significant consequences.
The Solution: You, us, a little patch of ground, a whole lot of seeds...and, yes—dancing! But before we get ahead of ourselves, let us share with you why we’re here on Kickstarter.
What is “Moving for Monarchs”?
Moving for Monarchs is a dance, film, and photography project for monarch butterfly conservation— a collaboration of artists and scientists dedicated to “saving the world one butterfly at a time.” We believe in the “Butterfly Effect.” Essentially, we know that the small collective actions of many can cause ripples that turn into big change for the better.
Interdisciplinary, intercultural, intergenerational, and international in its approach, Moving for Monarchs seeks to make visible the critical challenges facing monarch butterflies and other pollinators--challenges that, if unmet, will impact the survival of countless species, including human beings. The goal of the project is to inspire grassroots action to reverse the declining numbers of monarchs and other pollinators.
What can we do about the declining monarch population? What is already being done?
At this critical time, a massive crusade to raise public awareness and inspire previously unheard of levels of grassroots participation is necessary. The challenges facing the monarch butterfly, and all pollinating species, require careful, committed attention and deliberate, widespread conservation action.
Conservation organizations such as Monarch Watch and Pollinator Partnership have been and are working tirelessly on behalf of pollinators. However, not enough people know that each individual, family, and community can take simple steps to be part of the solution by planting pollinator “victory gardens” of milkweed and other nectar plants.
This is where “Moving for Monarchs” comes in.
What do we plan to do?
Metamorphosis of the Project: From social media campaign to “A Million Monarchs on the Mall”
Phase One: Moving for Monarchs begins as a film and photo social media campaign, including a series of short film pieces that explore the “movements” of pollinators on the earth and our relationship (our partnered dance) with them. Part dance film, part documentary, these short films capture the “dance of life” through a process that takes “crowd-sourced choreography” (“monarch moves” contributed by members of the general public) and weaves these movement phrases into dances through the storytelling of choreographers and professional dancers.
What we have accomplished so far in "Phase One": In June 2013 we shot our first short film, "First Flight," and photographs on location on the Konza Prairie (8,600 acres of native tall grass prairie) in Manhattan, Kansas. (See images above and sample of footage in our Kickstarter video.) "First Flight" is nearly finished; we have the final cut and we are about to begin the finishing touches of color correction and finalizing sound design. We are hoping to make an early release of "First Flight" to our contributors (see Rewards section for category details) immediately following our Kickstarter fundraising, with a wide internet release on January 1st, 2014.
Phase Two: Phase Two is the development of a dance concert series, Dances of the Danaidae, or, Ballet of the Butterflies, incorporating various genres of dance and music on the theme of pollinators, from ethnic and traditional dances to modern and balletic pieces. Again, parts of the choreography will have been “crowd-sourced,” as in the pieces for film. Simultaneously, grassroots “Plant n’ Dance” community events will take place, leading up to National Pollinator Week in June 2014 with “A Million Monarchs on the Mall.” These family-friendly events (across the country) will organize volunteers to plant Monarch Waystations (a program developed by Monarch Watch for pollinator gardens) and then gather for an “after-planting” dance event with live music and dance performances involving local and guest musicians/artists. “A Million Monarchs on the Mall” is a community-building flash mob style "dance-demonstration" in Washington D.C. to show policymakers that our pollinators are a national priority. The goal is to get thousands of people to “turn out” and “move for monarchs” on the Mall in monarch colors and costume as well as thousands more to “tune in” via the internet and appear in their own flash mobs in cities across the country.
As you can imagine, every project starts out taking “caterpillar steps” at first—so we are currently in the early parts of "Phase One"!
The goal we have set here on Kickstarter (for $15,000.00) will fund the bare-bones expenses of that second short dance-film piece. It will also help us set up our website, which we need to house the work we produce.
IF we have the good fortune to meet and EXCEED our goal here on Kickstarter, we have the ability to go farther with the production of the second piece (taking artistic liberties we could not otherwise), and we will then apply additional funds to the rest of the film/photo series and "Phase Two" of the project (see above for details). There’s much to do!
Why use dance to address this ecological issue?
This is all about pollination, and the process of pollination is a dance. In fact, it is the dance of life. As pollinators spin from flower to flower, their intricate movements and flight patterns resemble choreography. Likewise, dance imagery often draws inspiration from these creatures. From classical ballets to Native American traditional dances, butterflies appear throughout the spectrum of humankind’s dances. Furthermore, the focus of the project is to get audiences literally “moving for monarchs”—both dancing and digging their hands into the dirt in order to plant pollinator friendly (meaning nectar producing, rather than ornamental) flower gardens.
Who are we? Meet the Moving for Monarchs Team!
We are a group of artists and scientists from various backgrounds who share a common sense of stewardship. (For more on members of the team, see the “Bio” section on the right hand side of the page.)
The M4M Team:
Director Gwynedd Vetter-Drusch, Producer Jo Vetter, Director of Photography Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Cinematography Jaime Schirmer with additional footage by Carolina Pardo, Scientific Advisor Chip Taylor (Director of Monarch Watch) Costume/Wing Design Maureen Trotto, Costume Fabrication Arnold Levine, Music Gabriel Anderson ("First Flight") and Paul Szent-Miklosy ("The Milkweed Song"), Technical Advisor Duane Langenwalter, Production Coordinators LynMarie Berntson and Mark Drusch.
Why do the monarch butterflies need us to “move” on their behalf?
The science demonstrates that they need our help:
The North American Monarch butterfly population is in severe decline. These graceful, delicately-winged, orange and black fixtures of summer gardens, prairies, and meadows are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. The 2012 monarch butterfly census was “the smallest recorded since the monarch colonies came to the attention of scientists in 1975” (Taylor). On March 13th, 2013, The World Wildlife Fund-Mexico/Telcel Alliance and Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) announced that the number of hectares occupied by the monarch colonies which overwinter in the oyamel forests of Mexico had declined “almost 59% from the area occupied the previous winter” (NY Times).
Why are monarch butterflies important?
The monarchs journey from Canada to the United States to Mexico and back again each year in what has been called "the most amazing migratory phenomenon in nature” (National Geographic).
In addition to our fascination with this beautiful species and their migration, monarchs also perform an almost-hidden function necessary to life on Earth—and their disappearance is nature’s alarm bell. Ecologist Orley “Chip” Taylor, University of Kansas professor and director of Monarch Watch, calls butterflies and other pollinators (including bees, hummingbirds, moths, flies, and bats) critical “vectors of life.” They fulfill fundamental roles in the cycle of plant reproduction. The flourishing of these species is linked to the health and survival not only of plant species, but of every animal that depends on those plants in order to live (Pollinator Webinar, 2013). The activities of pollinators affect “approximately 75 percent of the crop plants grown worldwide for food, fiber, beverages, condiments, spices, and medicines” (NRCS). Hence, the fate of pollinators is inexorably linked to our own.
Are you a musician, dancer, business owner, or other creative or professional feeling "moved to move" for monarchs? Our small-but-mighty team would love to hear from you! We recognize that non-monetary contributions of time and talent can be just as valuable as monetary contributions, and as we continue to build our team, we are looking for artists and professionals with whom to partner. At this time we are potentially looking for a colorist for "First Flight" and a sound designer...perhaps it's you!
Our deepest gratitude to those who have helped us already, and to all who are about to join us in “moving for monarchs”!
Special Thanks to:
Toni Taylor (for her generous support of our efforts), Greg Gordon (for production consultation), David Wanner (University of Kansas Theatre Department for the generous loaning and painting of platforms), Emilietta Ettlin and Joe Williams (for choreographic advice), Ivan Salcedo (for loans of camera equipment), Kevin Boatright (University of Kansas), Frank Barthell (University of Kansas) John Briggs Thomas and Barbara Van Slyke (Kansas State University), Konza Prairie Biological Station, Linda and Dan Haney (for allowing us to film on their land). Julie Denesha (Kansas City Public Radio), Steve Hill (University of Kansas Alumni Magazine), Susan Rendall (University of Kansas Theatre Department).
The dedicated team of scientists and volunteers at Monarch Watch.
And to parents everywhere, especially the parents of Stella (Paulina and Peter) and Maddie (Frances and Nico), for doing what they can to ensure their children’s children will see and appreciate the monarch butteflies for generations to come.
And YOU, for your support.
New York Times
Director Louie Schwartzberg's Earth Day Webinar on Best Gardening Practices in Support of the Pollinators & the New Disneynature Film "Wings of Life." Vicki Wojcik, Ph.D., Research Program Manager, Pollinator Partnership; Orley R. "Chip" Taylor, Founder and Director of Monarch Watch; and Professor Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Sunday, April 21, 2013 from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM (PDT)
National Resources Conservation Service Native Pollinators PDF http://plants.usda.gov/pollinators/Native_Pollinators.pdf
Monarch Watch, Chip Taylor http://monarchwatch.org/blog/2013/03/monarch-population-status-18/
Risks and challenges
General risks unique to the nature of producing art and working with artists in the realm of film/photo production and dance performance include: weather delays, unexpected production set backs (it’s a creative process, and sometimes when making something new, unforeseen challenges arise—but that’s part of the excitement!), loss and damages to equipment, costumes, and data (we make it our policy to insure our productions), and potential illness/injury of performing artists (dancers are highly trained athletes and as such, we are committed to taking care of our artists by minimizing any hazardous conditions). This project is unique in the aspect that we are involving large numbers of the public at various levels along the way. To this end, we will take any necessary measures to ensure that “monarch movers” are safe and all documents are in place to cover their participation in “Moving for Monarchs.”
Perhaps the greatest factor of risk in this project is that even if we succeed in meeting all of our goals to facilitate monarch habitat restoration (the photos, films, live performances), we may fail to engage enough people to reach a tipping point and make a difference for monarch butterflies. If we do nothing, we certainly will fail, so in order to counter this risk, we are COMBINING ART WITH ACTION.
Rather than educating a passive audience, we are providing people with immediate opportunities to take action. This is where the “Dance n’ Plant” events become so important. We are invested in making conservation work and milkweed planting into an experience so dynamic that people cannot resist. By participating in the events, they will join us and we will all “dance” our way to making a difference.
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