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Ravenswood Media

Ravenswood Media Newsletter

October 2015 - Great Lakes Issue

Providing a conduit between science and the public

Publisher - Ravenswood Media
Writers - David Cottrell and Eric Koppen
Layout/design - Ken Redeker

Ravenswood Media Programs

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Water In Its Place

It’s a thirsty world and a lot of eyes have turned to the Great Lakes.

Read more »

Great Lakes Research and Education Center

Ravenswood Media partnered with the GLREC to produce a series of short films about scientific research on National Park land in the Great Lakes region and its impact on park management.

Read more »

Imagine

Very cool vision for the Great Lakes.

Read more »

Great Lakes Protection Fund

The films produced by Ravenswood Media for the Great Lakes Protection Fund are a part of a co-branding initiative between the Fund and their grantee teams.

Read more »

One Health in Action

By David Cottrell

The One Health concept promises to take human health and conservation into a better future.

Read more »

Climate Change and Dune Vegetation

By Eric Koppen

Researchers at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan are studying the effects of altered precipitation at the park, and how that will begin affecting the diversity of native plant life.

Read more »

Ravenswood Media to National Geographic

I first met Steve 8 years ago when he came to Chicago from Western Kentucky University to intern at Ravenswood Media.

Read more »

The Ali Files

My brother, Bill McGowan, published his first book, The Ali Files about his good friend and artist Ali Akbar.

Read more »

 

Ravenswood Media
Peter Johnson, Gov. Doyle, David Naftzger, Dave McGowan

Water in its Place

It’s a thirsty world and a lot of eyes have turned to the Great Lakes. No one has built a water pipe from the Great Lakes to drier regions but the potential was always there. Now, thanks to the Great Lakes Compact long distance diversions are banned.  And, any plan to move water to areas outside, but near, the watershed divide would be strictly regulated and need the unanimous consent of all eight Great Lakes Governors. It’s a very high hurdle and helps ensure that Great lakes water will remain in place for the future.

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Dave McGowan Jon Allan

The Compact was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2008 making it a federal law. Behind that simple stroke of a pen lies a Herculean effort led by the Council of Great Lakes Governors and a consortium of politicians, policy makers, environmentalists, industry leaders and foundations. They came together over several years to craft a document that would provide a solid legal framework for Great Lakes water. The waters of the Great Lakes transcend being simply a commodity, as Jon Allan, Director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes, says “Water in its place has value”. The people behind the Compact recognized that value and did the hard work to make sure the value is never diminished. We owe them a big “thank you”.


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Bahman Saless, founder and director of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra.

The music was composed by Bahman Saless, founder and director of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra. “It’s ‘momentum music’” says Bahman, “with lots of bass that fits with the grand expanse of the Great Lakes. Horns traditionally have been used in ‘momentum music’ to convey energy and things being accomplished while holding the harmony together.”

Coulter Mitchell provided the cinematography, including a bitter cold day at Niagara Falls. Tom Clayton made expert use of a small lighting package and window gels to balance the indoor/outdoor light levels. Special thanks to the Shedd Aquarium for providing a beautiful backdrop for the interviews.

Al Rasho did the camera work for Governor Doyle’s interview. Al also manages the Tip Top Tavern in Madison, Wisconsin.



Great Lakes Research and Education Center

Ravenswood Media partnered with the GLREC to produce a series of short films about scientific research on National Park land in the Great Lakes region and its impact on park management.

Fishing for Answers:  Researching Coaster Brook Trout at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Coulter Mitchell and I spent a blustery day last October at the Hurricane River in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore with Dr. Jill Leonard from Marquette University. Jill is investigating the impact of non-indigenous species on the native populations of Coaster Brook trout. The Coaster Brook trout was thought to be extirpated in the Great Lakes but has been recently discovered in small numbers in streams feeding Lake Superior, some of them on National Park Service land. Bruce Leutcher, Chief of Science and Natural Resources NPS, is keenly interested in Jill’s research because it is important information for Park management of the Coaster Brook trout.

The short film demonstrates that not all invasive species are accidental. Some, like Coho and Steelhead are introduced on purpose and can put tremendous pressure on the native species. NPS managers must navigate the delicate balance between the needs of native species and what the public wants for their park.


The Shedd Aquarium deserves big thanks for allowing us to film their display of Coasters and Coho.

Partnering for the Birds:  Investigating Avian Botulism at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Ravenswood Media
Harvey Bootsma PhD UW Milw. School of Freshwater Science

The National Park Service, University of Wisconsin’s School of Freshwater Science, and the National Wildlife Health Center are partnering together and with others to track the causes of avian botulism in the Great Lakes. There have been huge changes in the near shore food web in the last few years from invasive species. These changes have led to alarming number of bird deaths on the beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Great Lakes Research and Education Center has produced with Ravenswood Media a short film that explains the problem and how the partners are confronting the issue. The first line of defense is monitoring. Sue Jennings and Dan Ray, biologists at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, have gathered teams of volunteers who monitor the beach for dead birds. The information they gather is added to a database along with data from other teams throughout the Great Lakes. The database provides NPS management with information they need to address the health of the Great Lakes and its Parks.


Scientists and Citizens: Investigating Aquatic Insects in Great Lakes National Parks

I’ve filmed a lot of streams in my career but none were as clear and clean as the Crystal River in Sleeping Bear Dunes. Coulter and I spent a day with Ed DeWalt Phd, Illinois Natural History Survey, and Fei Xiong, a visiting scholar from China, as they surveyed the river for invertebrates, particularly Stonefly larva. Ed is interested in whether the stream is healthier within the boundaries of the National Park than through private lands.

The Great Lakes Research and Education Center provides Ed with volunteers who help him monitor insect populations in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. In the film below, Victoria Brinson describes her work collecting and analyzing specimens for the research. Joy Marburger, Phd. explains why it’s important for the Great Lakes Research and Education Center to encourage citizen science.



Imagine

Very cool vision for the Great Lakes from Phil Enquist.



Ravenswood Media
Carol Miller interview Wayne State

Great Lakes Protection Fund

Working Toward a Healthier Great Lakes

The films produced by Ravenswood Media for the Great Lakes Protection Fund are a part of a co-branding initiative between the Fund and their grantee teams. The goal with co-branding is to communicate the news from funded projects and to relay the stories within those projects to a wider audience than the teams would ordinarily reach. The hope is to create a buzz around the projects within audiences that may not otherwise be familiar with the work that GLPF funds.


Smart Energy For A Cleaner Great Lakes

Dr. Carol Miller, Wayne State University, demonstrates how the Real Time Energy Monitoring project team is using the Smart Grid to mine Big Data for environmental benefits. The Great Lakes Protection Fund supported the project because they saw the order of magnitude consequence for providing the public with some options to change their energy use to coincide with clean power sources.


Dr. Miller used the film at a symposium in Chicago, Diving Deeper Into LEEM, that was attended by energy experts from several states. The film was also part of the I-Corp Nextenergy meeting, where entrepreneurs are trained in science. “We strongly urged participants to review the film before attending sessions,” said Dr. Miller “it gives them background about how LEEM works.”

Animation demonstrating how the apps work was produced by John Mallett. Music was composed by Julie Nichols.

Vacant to Vibrant

The Cleveland Botanical Garden's Vacant to Vibrant project has produced a way to turn vacant city lots into green infrastructure that mitigates the overflow of storm water while beautifying urban landscapes. The Great Lakes Protection Fund supported the project because of its potential to improve the health of the Great Lakes while addressing the quality of life for its residents.


Coulter Mitchell provided excellent drone camera maneuverings. It’s not as easy as it looks. “I had to train for over a hundred hours on a simulator before I had even the basics down,” Coulter stated. Now, he intends to move on to far more elaborate (and expensive) systems.

Music is incredibly important for a film, especially the opening piece. It informs the viewer about the tone of what they are about to see. For Vacant to Vibrant we wanted something whimsical and happy, yet classical and precise. Bahman Saless suggested Strauss’ Pizzicato Polka that he conducted with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra. It was a perfect fit.

How Clean Is Clean?

The Northeast-Midwest Institute and Great Ships Initiative have created a new tool in the fight against invasive species with support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund. Their facility in Superior, Wisconsin allows them to conduct research on what constitutes safe levels of aquatic invasive species in ship’s ballast water. The work is critically important for setting the standards of “how clean is clean?’ for ballast water.


Ravenswood Media
Julie B. NIchols, Composer

We were very fortunate to have the cooperation of Dr. Ai Nihongi and Dr. Harvey Bootsma at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. Dr. Nihongi shared videos of microscopic organisms that were created at the Great Lakes WATER Institute. Dr. Bootsma shared video of gobies carpeting the lake floor off of the shore of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Composer Julie Nichols did a wonderful riff on Saint-Saens’ Aquarium for the opening and close of the film.

Ravenswood Media
Rudi Strickler PhD
UW Milw. School of Freshwater Science
Ravenswood Media
Ai Nihongi PhD UW Milw. School of Freshwater Science


One Health in Action

Ravenswood Media
Podcast with Julius Nziza
Listen
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Podcast with Kirsten Gilardi
Listen

By David Cottrell

The One Health concept promises to take human health and conservation into a better future. The good news is that it is already being implemented. Dr. Julius Nziza, Mountain Gorilla Doctors, outlines in the Podcast below how One Health has been embraced by the Rwandan government.

Ravenswood Media
Jonathan Sleeman, Julius Nziza, Dave McGowan, Michael Bartonjo at National Wildlife Health Center

PREDICT is a worldwide project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats Program, which has provided over $75 million of funding to predict and prevent viruses that emerge from wildlife populations and pose a potential pandemic threat.

The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) implements the PREDICT project in Rwanda, Uganda, and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Its partnership with the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at UC Davis and Gorilla Doctors, protects mountain gorillas by providing much needed research on “crossover” diseases to maintain healthy gorilla populations.

Dr. Julius Nziza, head veterinarian for the Gorilla Doctors in Rwanda, is working everyday toward promoting the “One Health” paradigm, which recognizes the interconnectedness of the health of wildlife and humans. “There’s a need for cooperation between medical doctors, environmentalists and veterinarians, in the spirit of the one health paradigm that can bring together all these different cooperators to share resources and to share knowledge so that we can tackle complex disease issues” says Dr. Nziza. “It will be very helpful if we work across sectors so that we can makes sure we solve all of these health issues that are affecting many of our regions.”

Founded in 1986, thanks to the efforts of the famous gorilla researcher Dian Fossey, the Gorilla Doctors’ veterinary team works on saving the lives of primates. And since humans and gorillas live so close to each other, the “One Health” initiatives are perfect to implement in Rwanda. Dr. Nziza says their location in central-east Africa is also aided by a local government, working to help solve some of the challenges they face. “We have a high population density and good conservation areas. We are working hand in hand to practice one health and solve complex disease issues as a team.”

With animal ecosystems being so interconnected to areas of human population, the “One Health” paradigm is important for future generations to adhere to in order to ensure healthy co-existence of human and animal habitat. Dr. Nziza points out that modern travel realities of people can cause diseases to move around the world within hours. There is also the risk of pathogens from zoonotic diseases to be passed by local populations eating wild meat, so there are many threats to pay attention to. “We don’t want to miss anything, so that we are always ahead of diseases before they become outbreaks.”

Ravenswood Media
Veterinarian Kirsten Gilardi knows what it takes to protect all creatures great and small — endangered mountain gorillas, sea birds, marine mammals and more. At the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, she approaches health problems with the understanding that we’re all connected as “one.”

During the summer of 2014, Dr. Nziza visited Chicago, where he studied bats at the Field Museum with Dr. Bill Stanley. Julius says “I became interested in Bill’s crash course on bats and how to identify them”, which is critical because caves that are home to local bat populations in Rwanda are nearby the mountain gorilla’s homes. And when people visit the bat caves, as well as the mountain gorillas, there’s a risk of certain diseases present in bat feces to potentially spread amongst the animals as well as local human population.” Thanks to his visit to Chicago, Dr. Nziza will now “be able to identify the right bats with the right diagnosis of any cross over diseases that may affect the mountain gorillas, as well as the people.” 

Dr. Nziza and his team are constantly doing routine health checks on the gorillas, as well as observing social structures and behaviors. Their work is creating hope for a strong future population in the wild. “We work to maintain their freedom and prevent disease transmission between us and them, and there are good signs that their population is going up.”

Ravenswood Media is working with Drs. Val Beasley and Alonso Aguirre on a proposal for a One Health documentary. Dave McGowan met Dr. Beasley while filming Why Frogs Call. They later worked together on a short film Envirovet: Vision For Tomorrow. Envirovet is a wildlife veterinary training program begun by Dr. Beasley to bring veterinary medicine to wildlife health issues (Dr. Nziza is an alum of Envirovet). Dr. Aguirre has co-authored the seminal One Health textbook, Conservation Medicine: Ecological Health in Practice. He is on the faculty at George Mason University in the Dept. of Environmental Science and Policy. McGowan also had the remarkable pleasure of meeting Dr. Tom Lovejoy, a powerful advocate of the One Health paradigm, in Washington, DC last summer.

Ravenswood Media
Dr. Val Beasley
Ravenswood Media
Dave McGowan & Dr. Tom Lovejoy
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Dr. Alonso Aguirre


Climate Change and Dune Vegetation

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

By Eric Koppen

Researchers at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Michigan are studying the effects of altered precipitation at the Park, and how that will begin affecting the diversity of native plant life, including such plants as common Beach Grass, Milkweed and Willow. Through Ravenswood Media, I was asked by Joy Marburger, Great Lakes Research and Education Center, to create a 10 minute film about the research being done that could serve to educate Park managers and staff about the research being done. The first day Lukas Bell-Dereske, the head researcher, took us out to his plots, which were situated about 100 yards off of the beach, to give us a tour of the location and a primer about his particular study. This gave me an opportunity to develop a plan of attack for the next day when we would begin filming.

Ravenswood Media
Lukas Bell-Dreske and Eric Koppen
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore


Filming went smoothly the next day. The first, most important task, was getting Lukas comfortable on camera, making him forget that he is being filmed and instead just having a conversation with him about his work. His work was quite fascinating, especially as he began describing the intricate irrigation system that he had constructed to create different levels of rainfall for each plot. The location itself was beautiful. The entire time we could hear the waves gently rolling into the shore. Also, when I got down to the ground to shoot closeup; of all the plants, I was able to focus in and appreciate the smaller details, spotting Monarch caterpillars feeding on Milkweed plants, colonies of ants tending aphids on a Willow plant and several different species of dragonfly and damselfly.

The experience has left me with an appreciation of the work being done at the Park, as well as the beauty of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park itself. It was the first time that I have had the opportunity to visit the Park. I also came away from the experience making valuable contacts for the future at Ravenswood Media, the National Park Service as well as local researchers and staff.



Ravenswood Media
Steve Spence Cameraman National Geographic

Ravenswood Media to National Geographic

The Intrepid Journey of Steven Spence

I first met Steve 8 years ago when he came to Chicago from Western Kentucky University to intern at Ravenswood Media. We spent the summer working on a film for the Blue River office of The Nature Conservancy. We had a lot of time to talk while driving through southern Indiana.

The most remarkable thing about Steve is his tenacity. Once he gets an idea he doesn’t let go. Eight years later, he’s giving me a tour of his office at National Geographic in Washington, DC. He was a walking smile as he introduced me to his new colleagues. “Everyone’s cool here,” he whispered to me.

Steve is finishing up a paper for his MFA from Montana State University in Science and Natural History Filmmaking. His duties at Nat Geo include camera work and equipment management.



The Ali Files

My brother, Bill McGowan, published his first book, The Ali Files about his good friend and artist Ali Akbar. Ali passed away and as a celebration of his life, we produced a short memorial film. Sara Cho, an intern from Lake Forest College, did an excellent job of editing the interviews. Ali was an inspiring figure for all who knew him and especially for his fellow artists of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bill also manages the No Se bookstore in Antigua, Guatemala. Al Rasho edited a short film about the bookstore.


Ravenswood Media
Sara Cho, Editor, Revenswood Media