What does it feel like to jump out of a plane and fight a forest fire with only your tools and your wits about you? Or work a year's worth of hours in only six months, sleeping in the dirt alongside twenty other people? How about felling a burning tree 150 feet tall? Can you imagine working alongside flames taller than your average office building?
Short of quitting your job and starting a new career in firefighting, the best way to experience wildland fire is to hear it from the experts - from men and women who spend their days out on the fireline. Be part of this rich history by sending The Smokey Generation to the 75th Smokejumping Anniversary/Reunion (and beyond) - to collect stories and oral histories from some of the nation's best firefighters. Already sold? We don't blame you - check out our rewards and read about our $100 Pledge Competition below!
Why is The Smokey Generation special? By using digital storytelling techniques, TheSmokeyGeneration.com builds context around wildland firefighting. Unlike many oral history collections, which are limited to audio recordings archived in libraries, our interviews are filmed, edited, and presented in a format perfectly suited to the internet medium - at the click of a button, folks around the globe can access engaging, approachable segments and participate in the greater narrative of wildland fire.
Storytelling and oral history are traditions as old as civilization itself and the stories in this collection are, and will remain, available to the public, scholars, and current/future generations of wildland firefighters for years to come. With these stories at our fingertips, we have an opportunity to examine our relationship with the natural world, exploring the important role wildland fire plays in keeping our landscapes healthy and beautiful.
Like our lives, fire is dynamic: Its story is more than what's told on the evening news. Many people only experience wildland fire through the media or when their homes or properties are affected, but wildland fire deserves to be given context outside of these emergencies. By sharing the stories of wildland fire professionals, we're able to educate ourselves about the broader reality of wildland fire. The stories are out there, it's just a matter of capturing them in a way that can be shared. Engaging stories, living history, accessible content -- just waiting to be told, shared, and preserved.
Our interactive website rises to a new level by providing anecdotes, lessons learned, and cultural reflections through The Smokey Generation's unique Talking Maps, ConTEXTualized Stories, and more. We capture wildland firefighters talking about their experiences, describing close calls, showcasing their camaraderie, and exploring their various histories—with a view towards their shared future. The stories ignite the imagination, provide intriguing perspective, and showcase the fascinating culture of wildland firefighters.
The Goal:Help us collect stories at the 75th Anniversary of Smokejumping (National Reunion), and beyond! Smokejumpers are firefighters who parachute into wildland fires (yes, it's as hardcore as it sounds) -- the program is highly revered within the wildland fire community and attracts some of the best firefighters in the country. The smokejumpers are celebrating their 75th anniversary with a reunion in Missoula, Montana on the 17-19th of July, 2015. This Kickstarter campaign will fund the collection of interviews and stories during the reunion and beyond. More than 350 current and former smokejumpers are already registered to attend (including some that were jumping in the 1950s and on). There is no better opportunity to capture the stories of these men and women than during an event like this.
Become a part of the story:Your contribution will help us preserve irreplaceable wildland firefighting history. The wildland firefighting industry is rich in experiences, fascinating in its culture, and incredibly insightful about role of fire in the environment. There are so many skilled and gifted wildland firefighters and leaders whose stories we risk losing due to illness and/or age, not to mention the great stories from current firefighters at all points in their careers. Your contribution will enable us to tap into the fount of knowledge these fascinating firefighters possess - and share these stories for years to come.
The Pledge Competition: By contributing to the Hotshot, Smokejumper, Flight Crew, or Engine Mod level ($100 pledge level), you help direct the types of stories we will pursue during our next batch of interviews. If you want to hear more Hotshot stories, pledge as a Hotshot. The same goes for Smokejumper, Flight (Helitack) Crew, or Engine Mod. The group with the highest number of contributions wins!
Further Reward Details: Every pledge level includes recognition on TheSmokeyGeneration.com's Supporter and Sponsor page. At the higher levels ($250+), contributors will be able to have their logos (or other image) posted at different sizes, depending on the level. Sponsors and Supporters will be recognized on the site for 12 months. Here is an example of what the different levels include (not to scale):
Talking Map image: Talking maps, like the one shown below, are part of the The Smokey Generation website. A custom print is included at the Incident Commander and Storykeeper levels.
Charred Wood Sculpture: For Historian level and above. Bethany, the founder, makes these sculptures (below, center) by hand from wood burned during the 2014 King Fire in California. An image of The Smokey Generation tree is sun-printed on one face.
Origin Story: The Smokey Generation
The Smokey Generation is a passion project founded in 2014 by Bethany Hannah, former USFS and BLM Hotshot firefighter and EMT. Bethany has a unique background that meanders between wildland firefighting, conservation, small business, consulting, directing training departments at a tech company, emergency medicine, managing logistics for a music festival, teaching chainsaw workshops, and more. The common thread: she loves helping people, thrives on finding solutions, and believes she can contribute to making this world a better place (even if it means going about it in unconventional ways).
Blending her BA in English with a background in firefighting and emergency management (including six years as a Hotshot), Bethany founded Wildland Fire Careers in 2007, a resume writing and career development company that serves individuals in high reliability organizations and land management agencies. She has recently completed her MA in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Wildland Fire Management and Communications at Prescott College. This website was designed as part of her Master’s thesis project.
On a personal note, she’s a sucker for chainsaws and high heels (though doesn’t promote their use together). She owns a VW Karmann Ghia that’s five years older than she is. She loves pasta and really loves desserts. And, she resides in California with her husband (a USFS wildland firefighter), an adorable Irish Setter, and three house cats named Ash, Chauncey, and Moxxie (aka ‘the wicked P pissah’).
Want to see more? Bethany was recently featured as part of STIHL’s ‘Real People, STIHL People’ campaign and you can view her video here.
Help spread the word:
Be a voice in history and help spread the word about this Kickstarter campaign and TheSmokeyGeneration.com. Share among your colleagues, friends, and family - via social media, word-of-mouth, or whatever works best for you! Here is a little blurb you can include on your social network: I support The Smokey Generation in its mission to collect, preserve, and share the stories of wildland firefighters. Help me light this project on fire: pledge on Kickstarter and share today!
Share and like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheSmokeyGeneration
Our website URL is: TheSmokeyGeneration.com
Risks and challenges
The wildland firefighting community is broad and widely accessible to The Smokey Generation. If an unavoidable complication arises and attendance at the 75th Smokejumper reunion is impossible, we will use the funds collected during this campaign to gather interviews and stories from other events and sources this year (such as visiting smokejumper bases, meeting with retired hotshot superintendents, traveling to USFS stations, etc.). The only challenges that come from interviewing firefighters are those associated with interviews getting interrupted by dispatches to fire assignments. To accommodate that, we generally schedule a mix of current and retired firefighters during our trips. That way, we can ensure each trip yields valuable, new material.
If you know of a wildland firefighter who should be interviewed, please let us know!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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