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An anthology of fables, tales, ballads, legends and myths collected from the communities in and around 6 of America’s National Parks.
An anthology of fables, tales, ballads, legends and myths collected from the communities in and around 6 of America’s National Parks.
379 backers pledged $20,264 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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What it is you are trying to do?

Campfire Stories is a collection of short stories to be read together around a fire.

The book will be an anthology of fables, tales, ballads, legends and myths collected from the communities in and around 6 of America’s favorite National Parks. The stories will give voice and capture the essence of these lands and the communities that share them—evoking deeper respect for these places.

Because these stories have been collected from the communities in and around the parks, they will capture the diverse history, cultures, people, and experiences of those that that have collectively built, shared and enjoyed these parks across the country. We hope these short stories will reignite our imagination about the wild.

How will you do it?

In May 2016, we are hitting the road and will be spending two weeks in each of these six National Parks, meeting people and camping in these parks, for the research and collection of stories for the book.

  • Acadia National Park (complete!)
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (May 4 - May 19)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park (May 24 - June 8)
  • Zion National Park (June 15 - June 30)
  • Yosemite National Park (July 3 - July 18)
  • Yellowstone National Park (July 29 - August 13)

For each park, we’ll reach out to libraries, museums, historical societies, arts & culture organizations, and long-time residents to start to understand the historic and contemporary context of each place that provides the background for us to be sensitive and emotionally aware of the stories we select.

Workshop with representatives of libraries, museums, historical societies, and arts & culture organizations in and around Acadia National Park
Workshop with representatives of libraries, museums, historical societies, and arts & culture organizations in and around Acadia National Park

By being able to meet face-to-face with all these individuals and organizations, we:

  • Demonstrate our eagerness to listen and share the importance of working with the community in selecting stories
  • Establish our presence in the region to build credibility and trust
  • Hear directly from individuals to uncover stories or points of view that are not immediately evident about the region

This process is vital for us to responsibly select the stories that we hope to share with you, the reader. It’s not a historical, or scientific, or even a folklorists process, but it is our journey to understand and then accurately represent these places to a broader audience.

Because these stories have been collected from the communities in and around the parks, they will capture the diverse history, cultures, people, and experiences of those that that have collectively built, shared and enjoyed these parks across the country. We hope these short stories will reignite our imagination about the wild.

How far is your project?

We are working with a publisher, The Head and the Hand Press – a nonprofit, independent book publisher and writers workshop based in Philadelphia, PA. We just need to complete the research and story collection for rest of the book!

We have spent the last year meeting with anthropologists, storytellers, folklorists, National Park Service employees, literary agents, independent publishers, writers, strategists and designers. These conversations have prepared us for this big adventure (both into the wild and the literary world), informed our approach and validated the need for this book. 

We officially kicked off the project by spending the October 2015 in the first park—Acadia National Park. This month was hugely informative, allowing us to tweak and shape our process for the remaining parks. We are now in the process of selecting stories that capture the essence of Acadia National Park based on our research. You can read more about this experience here. 

Campfire Storytelling Night: Acadia National Park
Campfire Storytelling Night: Acadia National Park

From this trip, and with Head and the Hand Press's help, we will producing a mini "chapbook," that will be a sample chapter of the final book, sharing 20+ pages of stories that we've collected from our time in Acadia. We've obtained the rights to re-publish three stories, and we're offering this "chapbook" as a great backer reward!

The front and back cover of the chapbook - Volume I: Acadia Stories
The front and back cover of the chapbook - Volume I: Acadia Stories

We also hired an illustrator and designer, Melissa McFeeters, to design the cover for the final and full-length Campfire Stories, expected in February 2017.

Cover design mockup, by Melissa McFeeters
Cover design mockup, by Melissa McFeeters

Why National Parks?

  • They’re beautiful and unique places, and it is our hope that these stories generate an interest and impulse for new, unfamiliar audiences to visit and experience nature.
  • And the time is right - in 2016 the National Park Service celebrates its centennial! Much like the intention behind the founding of the National Parks, nature should be protected and made accessible for everyone to enjoy—not just the wealthy or privileged. We feel National Parks serve as a great introduction to the outdoors—providing modern amenities and comforts of home in unfamiliar places. In short, Thoreau is wonderful, but his wilderness experience is not accessible to all.

Why a Book? Why Now?

  • Stories play a powerful role in creating emotional connections necessary in creating individual connections to nature.
  • Stories teach us lessons, build our empathy, and share ideas that are emotionally important in the art of living.
  • We crave stories. Podcasts and television shows are in such high-demand, told with wonderful complexity and high production value. Yet when we held a “Campfire Storytelling” event in Acadia National Park, asking attendees to bring a story to share, we found everyone had come in hopes of hearing a story. We’re surrounded by great narratives, but don’t feel they are ours. We want to collect stories that can be passed down - ones that are simpler to read, simpler to share and relevant for generations to come.
  • Ghost stories dominate the campfire story genre. You’re out in the woods, it’s dark, it makes sense. But there are so many more stories to tell when you’re out in the woods. There are stories of the landscape, the trees and animals that inhabit a place. There’s the human story of the land and ballads for the folks who’ve lived & breathed these places. Campfire stories that can capture all of these ideas can reignite our curiosity for the world, and sharing these stories evokes a camaraderie that we’ve lost - one that lives inside a good campfire story.
  • Whether somebody is reading Campfire Stories from their living room, a local city park or around a campfire in a state or national park, we hope these stories create new individual connections to and positive experiences with nature, especially younger generations who are increasingly disconnected from the outdoors—generations of people who, one day, will be responsible for protecting it.

How the funds will be used.

We need your help to cover the costs of:

  • Printing & production & distribution of the book!
  • Make sure authors are paid for their work, as well as other artists and illustrators that join us on the way to bring this book to life. 
  • Obtaining the rights to republish stories that we collect.
  • We even also plan to have a website custom designed so you can follow us along on our journey this spring and summer.

We believe in the project so much, that we will figure out a way to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves during our 4-month road trip! 

Our qualifications to complete this project.

  • We traveled to Acadia National Park in October 2015 to test and hone our process. From this trip, we published a sample chapter of the book!
  • We’re working with the The Head and the Hand Press, a nonprofit, independent, craft publishing company and writers' workshop based in Philadelphia! The Head and the Hand Press will use their many years of expertise to help us select stories, and print and distribute the final book.
  • In our professional careers, we’ve consulted for organizations like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and have managed public art projects for the City of Philadelphia and the Mural Arts Program with budgets up to $300,000.
  • We’re working art & design professionals with a lot of experience, and we can listen with a different sensibility and perspective than many conservationists.

Our team.

Dave Kyu is a socially-engaged artist & arts administrator. Dave received a BFA in Sculpture from the Tyler School of Art. His creative projects explore the exchange of individuals in public and private space. His latest project, Write Sky (writesky.com), provided community groups the opportunity to write a message in the clouds, 10,000 feet above Philadelphia. Dave has engaged communities in creative practice with his work at the Mural Arts Program, the City of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art Program, and at the Fleisher Art Memorial community art school.

Ilyssa Kyu is a designer and strategist. With a background in industrial design and user experience design, Ilyssa’s human-centered design approach helps individuals and organizations further their impact in the world by finding opportunities and clarity in the chaos and finding unconventional, creative ways of solving problems. She has worked as a designer at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, andCulture and currently works at a design studio called P'unk Ave.

All images and content were created by Kyu Collective, unless noted above, and used with permission. These images in the video were created by:
Smoky_Mtn_View.jpg, by ReverieHikes at en.wikipedia.org, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Zionnationalpark_mountain1.jpg, by selbst gemacht, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Risks and challenges

- Mother nature - some parks can face unpredictable weather or other conditions (i.e. wildfires) that could delay our process. We will be traveling during the summer when the weather is stable, to maximize our useful time in each place.

- Life happens. If we get sick, or are unable to complete the travel, we feel we will not have done the research to compile this book.

- Other opportunities to work with conservation and cultural groups may arise as we travel, that may delay the delivery of the book

- Licensing content - we don’t know yet the stories we’d like to select, and thus the rights/permissions to negotiate. We hope the breadth of our research will give us a number of writers & stories to choose from, so that we can adjust when needed

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    A “Thank You” on our website
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    Chapbook of "Volume I: Stories from Acadia National Park"

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    Chapbook of "Volume I: Stories from Acadia National Park"

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    "Postcard from a Park" - ask us a question about any National Park we’re visiting in 2016, and we’ll send it back to you with an answer when we’re on the road!

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    *Signed* hardcover copy of 'Campfire Stories'
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    'Campfire Stories' t-shirt

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    (2) *signed* hardcover copies of 'Campfire Stories'
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    'Campfire Stories' t-shirt

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    The Head & the Hand Press 'Community Supported Publishing' subscription - choose 2 titles from any of Head & the Hand's books, and also receive 2 staff picks from their various chapbook collections

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    (5) *signed* hardcover copies of 'Campfire Stories'
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    'Campfire Stories' t-shirt

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    Be our pen pal! We'll send you personal mail from each park we visit.

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    The Head & the Hand Press 'Community Supported Publishing' subscription - choose 2 titles from any of Head & the Hand's books, and also receive 2 staff picks from their various chapbook collections

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    (5) *signed* hardcover copies of 'Campfire Stories'
    w/ your name in the book as a contributor

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    'Campfire Stories' t-shirt

    AND

    Be our pen pal! We'll send you personal mail from the road.

    AND

    The Head & the Hand Press 'Community Supported Publishing' subscription - choose 2 titles from any of Head & the Hand's books, and also receive 2 staff picks from their various chapbook collections

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    (5) books donated to a school, library or nonprofit of your choice

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    (5) *signed* hardcover copies of 'Campfire Stories'
    w/ your name in the book as a contributor

    AND

    'Campfire Stories' t-shirt

    AND

    Be our pen pal! We'll send you personal mail from the road.

    AND

    The Head & the Hand Press 'Community Supported Publishing' subscription - choose 2 titles from any of Head & the Hand's books, and also receive 2 staff picks from their various chapbook collections

    AND

    (10) books donated to a school, library or nonprofit of your choice

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Funding period

- (30 days)