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Miami is drowning. Sam Van Leer is one environmentalist trying to stop it.
87 backers pledged $25,051 to help bring this project to life.

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$25,051

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UPDATE #1: OFFICIAL TRAILER / $4000 MARK

Did you know that Miami is in serious danger of going underwater within the next fifty years? And that no one has any idea how to stop it?

Jimmy and Jack on a rainy day at Everglades Holiday Park
Jimmy and Jack on a rainy day at Everglades Holiday Park

Oh, sorry! We forgot to introduce ourselves. We're Jack and Jimmy. We're filmmakers here to tell you about our new feature length documentary, called Urban Paradise. It’s about – you guessed it – sea level rise in Miami, Florida. 

Our main character is Sam Van Leer. Sam has been fighting the causes and effects of sea level rise in Miami with his volunteer-powered organization, the Urban Paradise Guild, for  the last decade. But Sam and UPG are still looking for the support necessary to make the organization sustainable for the long term.

We previously covered Sam in our short film Naturally Selected, which went on a coast-to-coast festival tour and is now being broadcast nationwide by PBS. You can check it out here:

Now, with Urban Paradise, we will be diving deeper into who Sam is, what UPG does, and why it matters. We will be covering other environmental leaders and we will also demonstrate the science and sociology of sea level rise in Miami with expert interviews and easy to understand animations – and show how the problem in Miami is unlike anywhere else in the world.

We've spent the last year gathering footage and mapping out the story. Now, as we move into the editing phase, we need your help to make this thing happen – it turns out you need some serious funding ($$$) to hire animators and edit a film full-time! 

With your $25k, we'll be able to... 

  • Edit the Film to Completion
  • Color Grade the Film
  • Compose Original Music
  • Create Original Animations
  • Release the Film to Festivals Nationwide

Tax-Deductible!

Are YOU tired of all that "wasteful government spending" we hear so much about? Wanna yank a few bucks out of Uncle Sam's greedy hands and put 'em to good use? Well, thanks to the Urban Paradise Guild, all contributions to this Kickstarter campaign are tax-deductible. We'll email you more info once you join up, but you can also find all legal info regarding UPG at the very bottom of this page. You can also check them out on their facebook page and find volunteer opportunities on their website. Come join us– if you're lucky, you might just end up in the film!

 (You can read more about the story of Urban Paradise towards the bottom of the page) 

Rewards

  •  $25 Digital Zine: "Sam Van Leer's Guide to Invasive Exotic Species" designed by Charly. UPG info about invasives will be available here 
can you believe this sample from page 1
can you believe this sample from page 1
  • Tote Bags by Carlos
gorgeous
gorgeous
  • Shirts by Carlos
stylish
stylish
hate to see you leave... but...
hate to see you leave... but...
  • Hats by Carlos
delicious
delicious

Subjects:

  • Sam Van Leer 

A Miami native, Sam opted out of his career in information systems work over a decade ago when he realized his life's purpose had to be more than "making rich people richer."  He began rediscovering Miami's beautiful ecosystems, particularly by kayaking throughout Biscayne Bay, where he noticed many problems were worse than he was a kid. Since then, he has been reshaping the city's environment and winning over hearts and minds to the cause of "urban paradise." Click here for more information about and volunteer opportunities with the Urban Paradise Guild.

  • Dr. John Van Leer

John Van Leer is an Associate Professor at University Miami RASMUS.  He knows everything there is to know about oceans, especially how those off the coast of Florida are affected by climate change. He is also actively involved in several international organizations who act to mitigate climate change and yes, he is Sam’s father.  Click here to read more about "Miami's father-son climate change duo."

  • Caroline Lewis

Dubbed the “Jane Goodall of climate change,” Caroline is the founder and executive director of the CLEO Institute, a non-profit whose mission is “to empower communities across all levels of society with climate science education and demand climate policies from our elected leaders.” A former science teacher, she is now also the high school director of the Cushman school in Miami, Fl. Click here to read more about the CLEO Institute

  • John Morales

John Morales is the longest tenured broadcast meteorologist in South Florida, serving as a reassuring television presence for nearly three decades. He is also an outspoken climate science advocate, and sits on the CLEO Institute’s board of directors. Follow John on twitter at @JohnMoralesNBC6

And more! We still have topics and storylines we are investigating and will add more characters and experts as we round them out. 

Creatives:

Carlos, Jimmy, Jack, Carly
Carlos, Jimmy, Jack, Carly
  • Jack Edmondson (Director / Producer)

Jack's is interested in deeply personal storytelling through documentary film – his thesis film at UF, titled In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, starkly portayed his own parents in the middle of a divorce while living in the same household. He is currently signed to Elestial Sound record label with his band Edmondson, which has toured twice up and down the east coast of the US and whose album "Turnings" is available on Bandcamp.

  • Jimmy Evans (Director / Producer)

Besides Miami, Jimmy also likes to do film work in other countries – he helped run a film camp for teenagers in the Dominican Republic, worked for a film festival in Chile, and most recently made videos for an eco-lodge in Costa Rica. He started and still runs the Gainesville Latino Film Festival's Short Film Competition. He hopes Urban Paradise will be the first of many films he has a part in creating that catalyze action on climate change in the areas that need it most. You can see more of his work on his Vimeo page. 

  • Carlos Perez – Graphic Design (made our beautiful merch!) and first introduced the filmmakers to Sam.

Carlos interned for the Urban Paradise Guild (landscape architecture) while attending Miami Dade College (go sharks) and currently lives in Gainesville where he studies landscape architecture at the University of Florida. During his spare time he likes to work on art things, skate, and fly his tiny drone. He invites you to slide into his Instagram DMs:  @carlito_incognito 

  • Charly aka Carly Shooster – Sequential Artist (made our beautiful zine!)

Charly describes herself as “23 and confused.” Comics are on her mind 93% of the time, with the other 7% a mix between friends, Sex & the City, and her family. She is currently enrolled at the Sequential Artist Workshop in Gainesville, FL. You can check out more of her work on her Flickr account.

Will the dream of "Urban Paradise" in Miami be lost beneath the waves? 

Miami is projected to experience over a foot of sea level rise by the year 2050, and anywhere from 10 to 30 feet by the end of the century. 

Miami sits on a bed of porous limestone rock, so we are no safer if we build sea walls – the salt water will come up through the ground. There has not been a single viable solution proposed that would keep Miami above water at current sea level rise projections. 

Sea level rise will cause life to become increasingly difficult for Miamians, as it leads to more flooding, stronger and more frequent hurricanes, an increase in storm surge, contamination from sewer systems, salt water intrusion into our drinking water, and climate gentrification, among other things.

What, then, is to be done?

For now, adapt and mitigate. Healthier ecosystems are more resilient to severe weather events, like hurricane storm surge. A greater number of trees—particularly mangroves—helps to mitigate storm surge and prevent land erosion. 

This is why Sam van Leer has been leading volunteers in planting mangroves both at and above the current sea level for ten years, in anticipation of water entering our urban areas. 

His volunteer-powered organization, the Urban Paradise Guild, provides hands-on learning experiences where people of all ages work in urban areas to restore native habitat, grow fruits and vegetables, educate and advocate for communities in local government, and provide disaster relief. Sam has a dream of turning Miami into a place where all people and wildlife can live harmoniously and sustainably. 

There are others with similar dreams. Caroline Lewis founded the CLEO Institute to bring climate science to Miami’s most underserved communities. Communities, once aware of the problems on their horizon, can advocate for their rights in local government to defend themselves from the effects of climate change. Caroline has a dream of Miami becoming a resilient city that adapts to its threats and functions as the world’s hub for climate solutions. 

But support for this work, which seems so essential to Miami’s survival, has been hard to come by. Some blame the rampant materialism and narcissism that seems to dominate Miami’s culture, others the disengagement borne out of having the highest level of income inequality in the country, but actions that address the causes and effects of sea level rise have been extremely difficult to make happen in Miami, while construction of luxury condos and six-lane highways continue unabated. 

Which is why we need your support. Urban Paradise will put you in the shoes of these activists. It will show you simply and thoroughly the threats facing Miami – the same threats that will soon be faced by too many other parts of our world. And it will inspire you to see these threats as opportunities to turn whichever place you call home into an Urban Paradise. 

At this crucial moment in our film, we are asking you to join our effort. The funds from this crowdfunding campaign will allow us to turn our footage (and dreams) into a finished film. Join us in making Urban Paradise. 

Official Non-Profit Registrations

IRS (United States Government)
             Urban Paradise Guild, Inc.
             EIN 90-0539102

– – – – – – – – – – – –
State of Florida
             URBAN PARADISE GUILD, INCORPORATED
             REGISTRATION#: CH37485

(This text is required by Florida law.)
             A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

Risks and challenges

This is our first time running a crowdfunding campaign and making a feature film, so it's nearly impossible for us to predict exactly how things will go. Our estimates for when the film will be complete are the best guesses we have, but it's entirely possible it will take longer. What we can promise you is that we will make the best film we possibly can and we hope that the last year of our lives we spent working on the film mostly self-funded will convince you of how dedicated we are to this project.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Family Member

    Thank you. You are officially a member of the Urban Paradise family. We will shout you out on social media send you updates.

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    Well-Respected Family Member

    Thank you! You're officially a member of the Urban Paradise family, and then some. We will shout you out, send you updates, plus we'll send you exclusive video content.

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    Music Video Digital Download

    Co-Director Jack Edmondson is not only a skilled director of motion pictures, but a master musician. Pledge $15 or more and you will receive an exclusive download of his song "Water Hyacinth" about the invasive-exotic species found throughout Florida, complete with a music video! Plus the $10 reward.

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    The Artistic Process

    Take a peek behind the curtain! We'll send you exclusive behind-the-scenes videos of the making of our trailers. Plus all rewards $15 and less.

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    Digital Zine!

    You will get a digital download of a 5-page watercolor comic by Charly Shooster, titled "Sam Van Leer's Guide to Invasive Exotic Species," about the importance of native habitat! Scroll down a bit to take a peek at the first page. Plus everything $15 and less.

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    Stream the Film!

    For the low low price of $30, you will be one of the first people on planet Earth to see our film! We'll send you a private screener link as soon as it's finished. Plus everything $25 and less.

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    Tote Bag

    Heading to the farmers' market? We've got you covered! Here's a beautiful bag that'll make you the talk of the town. But don't just take our word for it - scroll down the page to see for yourself. Plus you'll get all rewards $25 and less.

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    Thank You in the Credits

    We'll thank you now, and we'll thank you later! As the credits roll, look for your name under the "Special Thanks" section. Plus all rewards $30 and less.

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    Personal Thank You from Sam

    Sam will personally thank you in a video we record of him. Want him to say something special? Maybe tell your Mom happy birthday? We are more than happy to accomodate. Plus everything $30 and less.

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    T-Shirt

    Let everyone know what kind of world you want to live in with our extremely snazzy t-shirts! Scroll down just a little bit to see what it looks like. Plus everything $30 and less.

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    Personalized Phone Call from Sam

    Having trouble telling that special someone how you feel? Need someone to deliver bad news? Or maybe you just need someone to talk to? Regardless, we have you covered. Just give us the phone number and Sam will make the call. Plus a Thank You in the credits and all rewards $30 and less.

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    Hat

    Keep your face shaded and your skull covered with our stylish Urban Paradise caps! Scroll down a few clicks to take a look. Plus everything $30 and less.

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    Tree Dedication

    Sam and friends will dedicate a tree planting in your name! We will send you a video of the tree being planted, information on why it's important, and provide a way for you to find it. Plus a Thank You in the credits and all rewards $30 and less.

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    Private Sneak-Peek Screening

    Your ticket to a private premiere screening of the finished film in Miami (or Gainesville), where the filmmakers and subjects will be present! Plus all rewards $30 and less.

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    THE FULL PACKAGE

    You *can* have it all! Hat, T-Shirt, and Tote Bag plus anything else you'd like $50 and less.

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    Pie Sam in the Face

    Sam is being a real team player here! This is your one and only chance to pie Sam in the face. The only stipulation is you have to come to him! Oh and please don't hurt him – he has important work to do. Plus a Thank You in the credits and all rewards $30 and less.

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    Rough Cut Viewing

    We'll show you a cut of our unfinished film and you can tell us what you think! Can be in person for Floridians, virtually for elsewhere. Plus a Thank You in the credits and everything $30 or less.

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    Tree Planting in Your Yard

    Sam will come plant a native species tree in your yard! Dade and Broward Counties only.
    Plus anything you want $60 or less.

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    Guided Kayak Tour with Sam (for 1-2)

    See Miami's ecosystems through Sam's eyes with a guided tour of Biscayne Bay or the Oleta River. Plus any rewards you want $100 or less.

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    Guided Canoe Trip with Sam (for 3-4)

    Miami's ecosystems through Sam's eyes with a guided tour of Biscayne Bay or the Oleta River and bring your friends! Plus any rewards you want $100 or less.

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    Tickets to the Premiere

    Join us at our festival premiere! (travel and lodging not included). Plus anything you want $100 or less.

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    Associate Producer Credit

    Wow! You're a full-fledged movie producer now, and we'll let everyone know in our credits. Congratulations. Plus anything else you want $200 and less.

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    Executive Producer Credit

    Well hello there, big shot! For your generous contribution you'll get an Executive Producer credit complete with an IMDB page. Plus anything else you want.

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    Anything You Want

    Seriously. Just name it. If it doesn't violate any laws, seriously violate our morals, or reduce the quality of the film, we guarantee that we will do it. Just please contact the filmmakers with your request before making the contribution.

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Funding period

- (30 days)