Update 1: Thank you
To family, friends, and strangers who have backed this project,
Thank you so much.
As of Tuesday night, we reached our funding goal of $3,000. It took us a mere six days, and we are humbled by the swell of support that you have all shown for this endeavor.
We urge you, though, to continue to spread the word about this project. Our full summer budget is $5,000 – the four of us were committed to spending $500 each of our own money to make this project happen. We didn’t know how much we'd be able to raise through Kickstarter when we set the goal of $3,000.
So, in the 23 days remaining on our funding timeline, we hope to get as close to our full budget of $5,000 as is possible. Your continued support is greatly appreciated, and we can’t wait to share our work with all of you, and others, as donations roll in.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Andrew, Lauren, Nick and Jacob
Fly Over Me, an extended online documentary project, focuses on Valentine, a small town in the Nebraska Sandhills, where life moves with the seasons: through a busy spring for ranchers birthing calves, to summer when the town is filled with tourists seeking a trip down the Niobrara River or a hike through one of the numerous wildlife refuges in the area, to a relatively calmer fall and winter, when the town returns to a slower pace more familiar to rural towns across the state.
From the beginning of June through the middle of August--Valentine’s busy season--we will immerse ourselves in the community in order to explore the people and the circumstances that make the Valentine and Sandhills lifestyle so unique. Throughout the summer, we will maintain a website to put forth a full and accurate portrait of the community’s identity, conveying stories through video, photography, audio clips, and writing. The regularly updated website will feature two interactive online-zines as milestones over the course of our project. Our efforts will culminate in a short documentary, as well as handcrafted books featuring work from the project.
Valentine in Brief
The grassy and empty prairie of the Sandhills provides tens of thousands of square miles for cattle-ranching, a business and lifestyle reaching back to the late 1800s. The unique environment has bred a unique people, many of whom take their roles as stewards as a lifelong commitment to the community, the history, and the sustainability of the town. “We’re environmentalists, we take care of the land,” said Rob Lee, who runs his family's ranch, “It’s the one thing we have.” While generations of families, like the Lee family, have labored the land, Valentine still sees an influx of new faces every summer season with the prosperous canoeing and tubing opportunities on the Niobrara River in addition to numerous wildlife refuges that surround the town.
To the north of Valentine sits the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which, according to some locals, helps keep Valentine’s economy afloat in the non-summer months. Despite the symbiotic relationship, a difference in attitudes between the people of Valentine and Native Americans can breed misunderstanding on both sides of the border. “Our people live day to day,” said Todd Hay, owner of Derby Bar in Valentine, “They don’t try to amass things, it’s just totally the opposite,” speaking of cultural differences between the populations. Hay recognizes there may be a stigma surrounding reservations, but said “don’t ever be afraid to go up there, no matter what anyone says. It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people.” Given its geography and the seasonal ebb and flow of ecotourism, Valentine exists as a place where seemingly contradictory attitudes coincide: between ranch-life and town-life, between locals and Rosebud Natives, proponents of ecotourism and land preservationists.
We want to explore these relationships and their implications, including how life in Valentine is tied to the land, as well as the particular conflicts within the community, in order to put forth an accurate picture of contemporary rural America, as well as share what makes Valentine, and the Sandhills, such a unique and valuable piece of American culture.
How we're going to do it
Our group's past experience will allow us to act cohesively as a team, and we are confident that we can complete this digital narrative for Valentine in the two and a half months allotted.
Both Andrew and Lauren have experience on similar projects, understand the importance of meeting rolling deadlines as they come, and are prepared to do so.
Risks and challenges
While we do our best to plan for mishaps and roll with what we’re given, circumstances are always changing. Interviewees could cancel, access for stories could not come through, production of each online zine could take more time than expected, or gear could break down.
We can’t account for everything, but, because we will be working on the project for nearly three months, we’ll be engaged with these stories and the subjects involved throughout the summer. We're prepared to make up for any change in plans that might arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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