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$5,513 pledged of $39,000 goal
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By Eric Ellman
$5,513 pledged of $39,000 goal
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About this project

Help build infrastructure & a program that showcases enduring relationships between the U.S. and Mexico, replacing stereotypes with events that promote cultural exchange, recreation and education on our shared international border.

Legal justification for our work

Article VII of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, states, "...navigation shall be free and common to the citizens of both countries."

As long as they are floating on the river, musicians, actors or speakers are all technically "navigating", and can perform for (or with) people on the U.S. shore.

Why this project is needed.

Tourism to border towns like Nuevo Laredo has plummeted since the outbreak of narco-violence around ten years ago.  Few people have suffered as visibly as the street musicians of Nuevo Laredo.

"It takes a month to earn what we used to earn in a weekend," says Juan Martell, from El Cielo Norteño, who plays in the video. 

That's Juan paddling, on the day he reunited with friends, one year after they'd staged a riverside "Posada Norteña" for an audience that included U.S. Border Patrol, to demonstrate how the river belongs to everyone, and how cross-border exchange can restore lost connections.

Afredo Patiño, from "Los Troqueros de Linares", warms up on the U.S. side, while his bandmates get ready to cross.
Afredo Patiño, from "Los Troqueros de Linares", warms up on the U.S. side, while his bandmates get ready to cross.

More importantly, creating performance venues on the river challenges deeply ingrained misconceptions of the region that permit some to contemplate construction of a border wall.

(Click here to see results of a decade-long study drawing on data from 1400 police departments which concludes that U.S. border cities are among the safest in the nation).

Laredo is the perfect place to demonstrate how direct experience can trump rumor and television news, and lead to a future where both nations take full advantage of the river that is their shared resource.

The critical infrastructure to begin this process is a lightweight aluminum modular stage that can be transported between sites we have identified for binational events at half a dozen cities along the Lower Rio Gran de (the wooden stage used in the Posada Norteńa was a wooden prototype, disassembled three years ago).

Steve McGarraugh, principal of RGV Architecture, with a sketch of an aluminum, modular stage for easy assembly and disassembly that will fit on a utility trailer, to be towed to future “ruckuses” along the Rio Grande.
Steve McGarraugh, principal of RGV Architecture, with a sketch of an aluminum, modular stage for easy assembly and disassembly that will fit on a utility trailer, to be towed to future “ruckuses” along the Rio Grande.

Materials and construction of the stage is a one-time expense, and accounts for a large portion of our $39,000 budget.  Insurance, transportation, consultant's fees, purchase of a used truck and trailer, and the cost to film and produce a video of the October 9 event at Laredo/Nuevo Laredo account for the rest. 

Subsequent events at other sister cities will cost less than $10,000, and will be funded by host cities and private entities who represent the principal beneficiaries. 

But we need the Kickstarter community to pay for this first one in Laredo.

We start in Laredo because of our history working there, because of the presence of a small natural amphitheater on the U.S. side of the border, and because the proximity of the Tex-Mex Railroad Bridge, the oldest trestle crossing into Mexico, provides a backdrop that symbolizes inter-dependence between nations.

The Tex-Mex Railroad Bridge, historically the backbone of U.S. commerce with Mexico, provides the theme for October 9 events.
The Tex-Mex Railroad Bridge, historically the backbone of U.S. commerce with Mexico, provides the theme for October 9 events.

The program for our first October 9 "Ruckus" includes music, food, recreation and culture.

  • Music will be provided by a double brass quintet, comprised of musicians from Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, performing "A Little Bridge Music", scored by Laredo-born George Saenz, a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and trombonist with multiple grammy-award winner Lila Downs
  • Nuevo Laredo-based Laberintus Teatro will perform "Cruzando Los Dias", their award-winning short play about emigration and lost love on the Border.
  • Historical tours of surrounding St. Peters District, Fort MacIntosh and Nuevo Laredo neighborhoods. will be provided by the Webb County Historical Commission
  • Vendors on the Mexican shore will provide food. Transport to the vendors will be provided via kayak and paddle raft, captained by Laredo and Nuevo Laredo city lifeguards trained by Jaime Wright of Xaman Expeditions.
  • Mexican Canoe Federation and U.S. Canoe and Kayak Association paddlers will compete in head-to-head sprints on the river. 
  • For the benefit of other sister cities, filmmaker Miguel Garcia will direct LISD student cameramen in documenting how the cities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo work together to stage this paradigm-shifting event.

Coming 4 weeks prior to the U.S. general election, the event offers a timely opportunity to sponsor reasoned discussion of immigration and border security issues.  Performance sites have been scouted at multiple sister cities along the lower 400 miles of the Rio Grande. Each locale, provides an opportunity for artists and entertainers from both sides of the border to perform together in safe, beautiful and utterly unique settings on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Numerous sister cities along the Rio Grande are potential sites for follow-up events.
Numerous sister cities along the Rio Grande are potential sites for follow-up events.

Help the world discover a Rio Grande few know about, a river that's a haven for endangered, threatened, and listed species, a potential venue for international dialogue … and a great place to party when the sun goes down. 

Partners in this effort include cities, non-profit organizations, champion kayak racers from the United States and Mexico ... and you. Check out our rewards page, and see what we offer you for becoming part of this historic effort.

See you in Laredo!

Risks and challenges

Skepticism and disbelief are the initial reactions of many when they hear what we're doing. (Including locals are victims of the media hype about the danger of the river as much as anyone.) We overcome their objections with a virtual avalanche of media that attests to our collective experience conducting thousands of people on Rio Grande kayak tours, (see our Facebook page, "Kayaking Laredo") along with multiple binational races (Google "Los Caminos del Rio" "Big River Foundation" and "Rio Grande") as well as even more unlikely events (for information about our floating binational wedding packages, see www.bigriverprojects.us)

All of our activities are undertaken in accordance with the law and in regular communication with U.S. officials: No one entering a boat from the Mexican shore can set foot on U.S. soil. Anyone who leaves the U.S. shore and sets foot in Mexico has to return through a formal port of entry.

Any event involving water is inherently risky, of course, and to assure safety for all involved, on both sides of the river, we will have City of Laredo and City of Nuevo Laredo lifeguards, trained in river rescue as part of our program, present throughout the event.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    A NICE WARM FEELING

    is what you'll get every time you see press coverage of the project and realize that your $1 contribution helped make it possible.

    And there will be LOTS of press. Coming in the middle of a presidential election where the border is the principal topic of discussion, coverage will be YUUUGE.

    Join 38,999 other people in knowing that your contribution helped project a more balanced image of life along the Rio Grande, and what would be sacrificed through construction of a Border Wall.

    39,000 people giving $1 each, this is the way Bernie Sanders showed us it could be done. And for the same simoleon we'll put you on our mailing list and send you regular updates about how your contribution is getting us closer to our goal.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A FRONT ROW SEAT

    We can't accommodate everyone at this first event, but the modular aluminum stage built with your contribution will last for years and be re-utilized up and down the river. Contribute $5 and we'll keep your name on a list of those who will be able to call ahead and have a seat reserved for whatever musical event is coming up, so long as the river flows and we are on it.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A POSTCARD FOR YOUR REFRIGERATOR DOOR

    that warm feeling will burn a little brighter every time you walk through your kitchen and see a commemorative postcard from the event on your refrigerator door.

    We'll put your name on the list of future guests, and you'll get a daily update of how the program is evolving, delivered to your inbox each morning,

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    CHAT WITH GEORGE SAENZ

    Ruckus on the Rio Musical Director George Saenz plays with two Grammy award winning bands (Lila Downs and the Gregorio Uribe Band). For $20 you get a copy of his side project, "Mic the Robot," and a phone call to thank you for backing our project.

    (plus the the daily updates, and your name on our perpetual guest list).

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    RUCKUS ON THE RIO PROGRAM

    An event program, signed and suitable for framing.

    plus our daily updates in your inbox and your name on the perpetual guest list.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    RUCKUS ON THE RIO T-SHIRTS

    A COMMEMORATIVE T-SHIRT from our first event.

    We'll send you a program as well. and you'll be able to start each day knowing the latest project developments, delivered to your inbox

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    PARTY WITH THE PERFORMERS

    Toast the musicians, on the river, on our floating stage, at the conclusion of the program. Youll have 1/2 an hour to join everyone on the stage and imagine the show from their perspective.

    and we'll keep you abreast of project progress with our daily updates of course.

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    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    FOUNDERS PARTY

    Dinner and drinks at the Rio Grande Plaza, poolside with the team that organized the event, on October 8, on the eve of the first Ruckus on the Rio.

    You'll have a front row seat at a future event, and get our regular email updates.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    HAVE A HAVANA

    CUBAN CIGAR PARTY. Enjoy a legal Havana, riverside on the stage. Cuban cigars are legal in Mexico. We'll cater a selection of fine cigars and aged Cuban rum, the evening of October 9, after the orchestra clears the stage.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    BECOME AN OFFICIAL SPONSOR

    BECOME AN OFFICIAL SPONSOR OF OUR OCTOBER 9 EVENT.

    We'll list your name on the program and mail it to you, with signed thanks from people who made the event possible.

    You can join us on the stage with the musicians if you make the show, and we'll send the daily updates.

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Funding period

- (24 days)