by Dave McGowan
25 years ago the governors of the Great Lakes states came together to create the Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF). The environmental spirit of the 70's was alive and the bipartisan political will followed the popular support for “cleaning up the Lakes”. The Fund has been a game changer in the policies and practices effecting the health of the Great Lakes basin ever since.
The challenge for Ravenswood Media was to collapse that rich history into a 10 minute film. We drove over 1500 miles and interviewed a dozen people, including governors, farmers and academians. Mike, our editor, was confronted with 40 hours of footage and nearly 400 pages of transcripts. Amy Elledge, GLPF project manager, helped Mike craft a deft, forceful narrative that captures the enthusiasm and conviction of the people who make the Great Lakes Protection Fund an instrument of positive change.
The Fund is committed to finding real solutions to problems that require deep, systemic implementation. They confronted invasive species by funding research into ballast technologies that not only will protect the Great Lakes but will have an impact on preventing invasive species across the globe. The Fund is a gift from the governors of the 1980s to the administrations of today and even the ones that are yet to come. The Great Lakes Protection Fund is serious about attracting new ideas and talent to prepare for the challenges of the 21st century.
My wish is that the GLPF model of cooperation across political parties and borders can be replicated in other areas. There are many great lakes areas in the world; Lake Victoria, the Baltic Sea and the Aral Sea to name a few, that are under ecological assault and might find the GLPF template useful.
Travis Mangan, Great Ships Initiative, Duluth, MN
Photo by Robert Teetsov
Dave McGowan at Montreal Falls, Upper Peninsula, MI
Photo by Robert Teetsov
Photo by Mike Brockway
Mike Brockway & Becca Castanada
Photo by Ken Redeker
by David McGowan
Too many eagles, too little time. That was the challenge for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources since the eagle population in the state has dramatically increased in the last few years. There are not enough state biologists to monitor all of the nests. Stephanie Shephard, Iowa DNR biologist, came up with the idea of enlisting the help of citizen scientists. "We already had a Raptor Nest Monitoring Module as part of the Nature Mapping citizen science program. I simply modified this to have a little more focus on eagle nests." Iowans have enthusiastically pitched in to monitor state wildlife, particularly frogs, toads and birds.
Ravenswood Media was contracted to make a training program to show volunteers how to gather data on eagle nests. The data is critical in assessing threats to eagle populations at the state and federal levels. The goal is to expand volunteer monitoring to other states where eagle populations are on the increase. The program is supported through a grant from the American Eagle Foundation.
Stephanie provided Ravenswood Media with an extensive list of known nests. I picked the ones most accessible to park my bird blind and wait... and wait..., and wait. The camera rolled constantly. I only stopped it to feed it another tape. Many times I wasn't sure what I had gotten because I had nodded off while filming the nest. It was a tedious but effective method of capturing eagle behavior. I got great shots of the eagles building the nest, bringing in food, and chicks being goofy feather balls.
It wouldn't be a Ravenswood production without interviews. The most gratifying aspect of the project is the high level of cooperation between the Iowa DNR, US Fish & Wildlife Service and the volunteers. I was impressed with the commitment the volunteers bring to eagle nest monitoring. They have both the passion and resolve necessary to effectively gather nesting behavior that is critical to the survival of bald eagles. With over 150 nests in Iowa alone, state and federal biologists welcome the input of citizen scientists.People love eagles. An indication of how much is the popularity of the Decorah, Iowa eaglecam. Bob Anderson of the Raptor Resource Project set up a camera on an eagle nest and streams the video live on the Internet. The site is visited by millions of viewers across the globe. Bob generously donated some of his video for our project. Also contributing video and bird calls to our project was the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Macauley Library. Cornell has an extensive user friendly website for finding the call of nearly any bird species. We also used video from the Public Domain library of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Bald Eagle recovery is a wonderful success story. We should be proud that government and private citizens can rely on one another to address important conservation issues. Wildlife and wild places are enjoyed by all and its conservation for the future is the responsibility of all. The Iowa Bald Eagle Volunteer Monitoring program is great example of that idea.
Photo by Lisa Yu
Photo by Ken Redeker
OCD and Me: The International OCD Conference
by Ken Redeker
In 1986, a small group of dedicated individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) got together and created the OCD Foundation. This summer I attended the annual conference in Chicago and discovered a wealth of resources to help me live with OCD. Therapy is absolutely essential to my mental health, I'm terrified to be without it but I can't afford it. With the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation (IOCDF) I have found a life line.
I was terrified when I walked through the crowded lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Chicago. Teenagers, adults, therapists, and researchers walked past me with badges that declared IOCDF. When I got my ID I felt like I had joined a battalion of courageous souls and conjoined with a fellowship of survivors. But my anxiety was rocketing through the roof.
I knew less than a half dozen people through brief emails, and there were over a thousand strangers here. My first challenge was to introduce myself to Jeff Bell, the author of Rewind, Replay, Repeat, and founder of Adversity 2 Advocacy. Jeff has OCD, and his book has helped me immensely. Throughout the past year, Jeff and I had written several emails to each other, but I had never met him in person. Along with OCD, I also struggle with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). So this was going to be a difficult exposure to anxiety. I had to face my fears.
After the orientation, I took a deep breath and introduced myself to Jeff. We talked briefly, and made plans for his interview. Then I attended Dr. Roberto Olivardia's lecture on OCD and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is another disorder which falls under my OCD umbrella alongside SAD. After his enlightening discussion I introduced myself, and scheduled an interview with him for noon on Saturday. I had cleared my first hurdles by introducing myself to Jeff Bell and Dr. Olivardia. The next hurdle—or maybe pole vaulting is a better description of how I felt about these interviews—was going to be one of the greatest challenges in my life.
I had chosen each of these people for their unique perspective on OCD. Author, Jeff Bell, is a popular, news radio co-anchor for KCBS in San Francisco, and has OCD. Dr. Jenny C. Yip also has OCD and is executive director for the Renewed Freedom Center, and frequently writes a blog for Psychology Today. OCD therapist, Dr. Olivardia has ADHD, and is co-author of The Adonis Complex. I was extremely nervous about these interviews, and I knew it was going to show. The agonizing What ifs looped relentlessly in my head.
I had imagined all kinds of dreadful disasters and every disasterous what if seemed a likely possibility. Saturday arrived, and I had survived. Not a single one of my foreshadowed catastrophes materialized. My anxiety did show during the interviews, but it mattered to no one, and I learned a lot.
I have edited the interviews into downloadable PodCasts. I hope that these interviews will help others with this dibilitating disorder, and raise awareness. Currently, our goal is to do one podcast every month. On September 24th I interviewed neuroscientist Dr. Christopher Pittenger, and it will be available as a podcast this fall.
Could this be the genesis of OCD-TV?
Help Yourself by Helping Others: Exploring the Power of Turning OCD Adversity into OCD Advocacy with Shannon Shy, JD; Jeff Smith; Patti Lowery, RN; Chris Trondsen; Susan Dailey; and Jeff Bell (Roberto Farren Photography, photo courtesy the IOCDF)
Ravenswood Media is working on a documentary about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder called "Embrace the Fear." Ken Redeker, editor of our newsletter, suffers from OCD and is sharing highlights of his 40 years of living with a severe case of OCD. -- Dave McGowan
Crossing Bridges: Portrait of an Artist
by Dave McGowan
Crossing the Bridge began as a down-time exercise at Ravenswood Media and turned into a poignant, thoughtful reflection on art and risk. Filmmakers Lisa Yu and Kristen Kane became interested in Ric Laurent's work by passing his studio on their way to our office in the Fine Arts Building. They decided to invest their talent into a short film on what motivates an artist.
Kristen and Lisa worked together on the interviews and camerawork. They both labored over the transcripts and organized the footage. It soon became apparent that they had the beginnings of a really interesting short film. Ric shared a lot of himself and his approach to creating art. Unfortunately, Lisa and Kristen had to move on to other projects before they could complete Crossing the Bridge.The film languished on a hard drive until Robert Teetsov became interested in the project earlier this year. He was working with Ravenswood Media on Leadership in Action as a production manager. Robert had limited experience with editing but wanted to give it a shot. He spent a lot of time getting to know Ric personally and through the transcripts. He approached the project with a deft touch and showed a particular sensitivity to Ric's work.
What Ric says in Crossing the Bridge can be applied to any endeavor. It begins with overcoming the fear of the first step. I know that was true for the start of Ravenswood Media and continues to be true for every new project that comes through our door. You have to take that first step.
by Dave McGowan
We arrived at the Neda Mine in central Wisconsin in late afternoon. Paul White, WI DNR, lead us to the ancient opening of the closed iron ore mine. I had heard of bat swarms but had no idea what to expect. Starting in late August, bats collect outside their hibernaculum to mate before settling in for their long winter sleep.
It was sunny but cold. I had a hard time believing that we'd see any bats that night. Paul would just give me a knowing smile and say “oh, we'll see 'em”. And, boy, was he right. By nine o'clock we had a cloud of hundreds of bats flying around our heads, feeling the breeze of their wings on our cheeks.
This was the first day of production for our follow-up film to The Battle For Bats. Cynthia Sandeno, National Cave and Karst Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service, has put together an impressive team of White Nose Syndrome experts. A lot has been learned about White Nose Syndrome since we made the first film and the U.S. Forest Service feels it is important to make the latest information available to the public. The U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state agencies continue to fight for solutions to this devastating disease that threatens bat populations throughout the United States. This up-dated film will show how White Nose Syndrome has progressed throughout the United States and Canada, the threat that this disease poses to our bat species, and why our bats are so important to the health of ecosystems both above and below ground. The film will also document the work
I was awed by the experience that night. Twenty feet under our feet, in the miles of mine passages nearly 150,000 bats are preparing for hibernation. If WNS hits Wisconsin, it could be the last time that bats fly over Neda Mine and that hurts.
by Dave McGowan
Conductor/composer Bahman Saless has been collaborating with Ravenswood Media for the last 15 years by creating beautiful scores for our programs. His latest works were for Leadership in Action and Crossing the Bridge. Ravenswood Media colleague, Jacek Lupina, produced a short film about the Boulder Chamber Orchestra which Bahman founded and conducts.
Bahman is the co-director of the International Conducting Institute. The Institute teaches students how to conduct and manage an orchestra. It is one of the few organizations that provides students with a professional orchestra with which they can gain practical experience in conducting.
Intern Experience at Ravenswood Media
by Maggie Evenson
I feel fortunate to have been selected as a summer intern at Ravenswood Media. My internship was a great learning experience, something which will immensely compliment my academic studies at the University of Iowa.
While many of my classmates sought a large media firm to work at, I have personally found that a smaller operation such as Ravenswood Media is a much better fit. Being a smaller company, the main point that appealed to me was the high level of responsibility given to me enabling me to learn much more. At a larger firm I would likely have been given less challenging, more mundane tasks.
Dave McGowan and Mike Brockway were excellent mentors, giving me a large amount of freedom as to how to edit the films we worked on. In classes I've taken at Iowa, we are often given assignments with specific structures and requirements. But in the working world I've learned that the focus is more on the content and making sure that certain motifs are highlighted in the work. We were working to fit a lot of information into short videos, so every second and frame counted.
I've learned a lot of great things from Ravenswood Media, but the greatest piece of advice I received was that every detail was important. Whether it was cutting one frame earlier or later or even what interviewees were used in the final product, every detail was analyzed and had a reason for being in the film.
Another thing I learned is that Ravenswood has a different approach to projects than I initially expected. They first conducted an interview with a subject, and then they had the interview transcribed and printed out the paper copy. These transcripts were useful to know exactly when the interviewee said a particular phrase and enabled us to easily find it on our tapes. The paper edits were also very helpful in visualizing what our script was and how we were structuring the projects through each interviewee.
All of the technology utilized this summer was also a wonderful surprise! I learned about all of the filming equipment; what cameras to use, which sound and lighting equipment fit which setting, and what computer programs would aid our work. I had never worked in Color and Soundtrack Pro before this summer and now I can use both for my future school projects! I'm so grateful to have learned these invaluable new programs! Even learning keyboard shortcuts in Final Cut Pro will save me hours of time this year at school and in the future.
Overall, it was a unique and wonderful experience to be the intern for Ravenswood Media. I can honestly say that my summer was infinitely better than those of my classmates because I had hands-on experience in filming, editing, and producing films with experts nearby to guide me. Every day at Ravenswood we were working on something different, so I never felt unhelpful or bored, and I learned some great new skills that will help me in my future career. This summer internship taught me a lot, not only about filmmaking and equipment, but also about the importance of a good work ethic, problem-solving, networking, and how to be proactive. These are things I would never have learned from reading a book.