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[personal|travel] At the Mountains of Madness - more thoughts on Antarctica - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-09-08 05:28
Subject: [personal|travel] At the Mountains of Madness - more thoughts on Antarctica
Security: Public
Tags:antarctica, cancer, child, health, personal, travel
I've given some more thought to the idea of going to Antarctica, and done some additional research.

First of all, if I am going to do this, I simply have to take [info]the_child. I can't imagine not doing that, but it literally doubles the cost of the effort, which makes the fundraising that much more daunting.

Second of all, my original thumb in the air estimate of costs was about right for a basic trip through Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. $15,000 will get a person there from the United States by air, keep them in hotels and daily expenses as needed, and put them on a cruise across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic peninsula with some opportunities for landing on the Antarctic shore, with a bit left over for clothing and gear. That's a two- to three-week trip, door to door from the United States.

The other obvious option is to leave from New Zealand (which for several reasons I find mildly preferable), but the base cost is rather higher for that trip than for the Argentina option, running closer to $30,000 per person. It also takes more time.

The South Pole is possible, by the way, but is closer to $50,000 per person by the time it's all rolled up.

And then, of course, double the cost for including [info]the_child.

Even the most basic approach is $30,000 under these parameters. That seems like an awful lot of money for a Kickstarter effort, though it's well within their parameters. (I checked.)

The other issue, of course, is the creative positioning. That's essential for the Kickstarter funding model, but also very important for me.

I see several angles here, both positive and negative. One is the journey through from the cancer being taken by me and [info]the_child. The idea of going to extremes to celebrate having gone to extremes. Another is a continuation of the travel blogging and photo blogging I've been doing for years, on my trips to China and New Zealand and around the United States. Another is bringing the adventure aspect home to all of my readers with the same prosaic approach I've brought to the cancer journey and everything else.

On the flip side, I'm already a well-off American white male with all the privilege that implies. It's hard to escape an appearance, and even a reality, of entitlement and privilege, regardless of my conscious motivations. If I am going to ask other people to pay for this, I have to deliver some specific, focused value — in the form of entertainment and education, pace my role in the world as a writer and blogger and a creative artist.

So I'm thinking the creative output has to be layered and meaningful. For example, a high-end, limited edition hardcover book of photography and essays and some Antarctic specific fiction for top tier-donors, and possibly later limited sale. The donors would receive some personalized premium content from me as well. I'd produce a more accessible trade edition of the same book for mid-tier donors and general sale. An ebook edition for all donors, and general sale.

The name of the project, naturally, would be At the Mountains of Madness.

All of this has to include [info]the_child of course, her essays and her art and photography. And I'd being blogging the entire process from the very beginning, so the donor experience would be a reader experience, along for the ride on my metaphorical shoulder.

A question that I need to wrestle with is how much to frame this as a cancer/post-cancer project? From my internal perspective, that's kind of the point — aiming myself at something audacious. So there's an emotional journey here, from a hospital bed in Portland, Oregon to the polar ice cap, that would seem to underpin everything. At the same time, I don't want it to be morbid.

Likewise, do I seek direct sponsorships instead of Kickstarter, or try to build a more traditional nonfiction trade book deal to support this project? Etc. etc. etc.

A lot to think about in order to make this make sense.

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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2011-09-08 13:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm surprised it's so expensive. I believe it cost about $12K for two when we went in 2003 or so. We booked the trip through Mountain Travel-Sobek, though it was actually run by an Aussie company, and went on the Alademik Ioffe, which had been built as a Russian research vessel (which was awesome because it had an active damping system to resist too much motion. I don't think normal cruise ships have those.)
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Dichroic
User: dichroic
Date: 2011-09-08 13:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry, the previous anon comment was from me. Unfortuantely I just found out it looks like my older blog site has been hacked, so until I can fix that it's not possible to see the trip reports.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-08 13:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
$12K is the low end of the cost for two to cruise now. I figured $16K for the cruise (for two), but then there's airfare (almost $6K more for two), expenses on the ground, gear, etc. I will look into your booking resource. Thanks!
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scarlettina: Airplane
User: scarlettina
Date: 2011-09-08 14:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Airplane
Mountain Travel-Sobek was founded by the awesome Richard Bangs (someone I used to work with at Expedia lo these many years ago), who does a lot of environmentally responsible travel and is generally a cool person. Going that way could be a great option.

You might also consider going as a volunteer, the way I went to Kenya. I suspect it's not what you're looking for, but it could add a different dimension to the trip. Here are a couple of ideas, just for kicking around:

Climate Change at the Arctic Edge
Climate Change in the Mackenzie Mountains
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2011-09-08 13:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I may have missed this, but why, specifically the Antarctic Peninsula (which I think of as Graham Land because that's the name on older maps)? I think it's a marvellous idea, and I might kick in a bob or two if I have any funds (and my wife lets me).

I'm in favour of creativity. I think it's a good idea.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-08 13:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To go as far as I can, basically. In a perfect world, I'd aim for the South Pole, but that requires immensely more money.
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russ: lyles constant
User: goulo
Date: 2011-09-08 18:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lyles constant
Then according to http://www.antipodemap.com/ you should go to some place southeast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, not to the South Pole! :P
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Twilight: Bright Outlook
User: twilight2000
Date: 2011-09-08 14:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bright Outlook
I think the high end coffee table book for top tier donors makes sense - with your writing a bit about each photograph (what it is, why you took it, where it fits in the story) - but remember, with Kickstarter you'll need to ask for almost 10% more to cover your fees.

As for "post cancer" - you can make that a celebration of life - it doesn't need to be morbid at all.

You might also consider doing this both ways - so kickstarter for a portion (the cruise, for example) and a non-fic trade book for the other portion (or whatever mix works) - that would give you a little more wiggle room with funds.
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chris_gerrib
User: chris_gerrib
Date: 2011-09-08 14:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I guess I wouldn't worry too much about the "privilege white guy" aspect. Your donors also have the privilege of not giving.

Regarding the funding - let me second the idea of splitting the project into multiple parts. Having a limited edition book for the Kickstarter crowd while others just get the trade book seems reasonable to me.

Lastly, I do recommend researching the ship you take down to Antarctica. Those are notoriously stormy waters, and damage (to include sinking) is a real threat.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-09-08 15:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'll third this recommendation of splitting the project. That makes it doable.

And I strongly recommend an REI membership if you don't have one already...for that matter, once you've got this down in a more tangible form, it might be worth looking to REI/pitching to REI for a sponsorship of some sort. REI, Teton Gravity Research (video!). Granted, TGR would be more interested if you were a skier looking for Antarctic first descents, but you never know what you could put together...it's very possible you could put something together with some of these extreme video companies that could appeal. I'm not sure--need to probe around my connections on the Mountain--but I would not be surprised to find a local company that could end up providing you with resources. The Mountain would be the place to look. Let me poke around.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-08 17:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for looking in to that.
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User: xjenavivex
Date: 2011-09-08 15:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have nothing more to offer than excitement at the idea of it

Love your hopeful reader at home
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Clint Harris
User: wendigomountain
Date: 2011-09-08 15:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
All I can say is that a trip to Antarctica will make some really cool "Moment of Zen" pics for your blog. My only suggestion would be to research the travel companies before you go. Some of them are notorious polluters and are ruining the entire shoreline.
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Jeff
User: jeffreyab
Date: 2011-09-08 17:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Can you take the Kim Stanley Robinson route and get a grant to write about Antarctica after a visit?
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Ruthanne Reid
User: ruthannereid
Date: 2011-09-08 19:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is TOTALLY worth a Kickstarter effort, and I seriously hope you make it.
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history_monk
User: history_monk
Date: 2011-09-08 20:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The layered structure seems to be quite common for Kickstarter: both the projects I've given money had that, via signed editions, prints, and so on. But the costs of a hardcover will be significant.
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Tyellas
User: tyellas
Date: 2011-09-09 01:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Much as we'd love to see you again in New Zealand, don't knock Argentina as an interesting (and budget friendly) travel destination. If you have the energy to do a bit of couch surfing in Buenos Aires on your way through, I recommend it. It would also give your trip a much greater feeling of surreality. New Zealanders are so pragmatic...

I looked into going to Antarctica myself - applied for a job, etc. They have the world's most overqualified janitors on the Antarctic bases.
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mectech
User: mectech
Date: 2011-09-09 05:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
FWIW, B also falls into somewhat different circles on the Venn diagram of privilege compared to you. However, that this is something that has to be earned remains a fair statement.
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That Which Fights Entropy: future life
User: amberite
Date: 2011-09-09 07:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:future life
There is a scholarship for artists/writers, though I don't know the parameters...

Also: I have an idea, though it might be too ambitious. But then again, with these things, sometimes more ambitious means the project goes farther and gains more traction.

It would involve working with one of the major "athletes against cancer" type charities (you know the sort of thing I mean) to set a target amount at double or more of what it would cost to go, with the rest of the money going to cancer research... You might very well be able to get a large organization behind you if you make it that kind of enormous publicity stunt, because they could get some of their own fundraising out of it. And it could be the kind of awareness-increasing move that is needed for colon cancer to make it into the news spotlight.

It might not be the way you're interested in framing it and it might also prove unfeasible for various reasons. But... I think that there is a chance if it is framed the right way it could click with the cheerleadery public awareness organization set, and gain public traction beyond what is achievable by sticking with your own networks.

I dunno. I think if the prospect doesn't repel you, you could write up a proposal and see if anyone bites.
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Tom
User: voidampersand
Date: 2011-09-09 14:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The Love Craft soon will be making another run
The Love Craft promises something for everyone
Set a course for madness,
Your mind on a new plateau.
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Elizabeth Coleman
User: criada
Date: 2011-09-10 16:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you can throw together a proposal in two days, there's this: http://www.usap.gov/News/ContentHandler.cfm?id=2451
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-10 16:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wow, I wish I'd known this a week or two ago. I'm on chemo this weekend, and it's highly unlikely I could manage anything by tomorrow.
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Elizabeth Coleman
User: criada
Date: 2011-09-10 16:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I just read about it this morning in the book I'm reading (about the Mars simulation station up in the Canadian Arctic), which just said, "the NSF funds artists and writers to go to Antarctica." I wish I'd read it a week ago!
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Amanda
User: cissa
Date: 2011-09-11 02:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I must admit to some jealousy/envy here. Not that I wish you ill!

15 years or so ago, my husband and i were planning on doing an Antarctic cruise for our 30th anniversary- mostly because I was keen, and that's one continent he hadn't visited (before our marriage). I'd read "Antarctica" and fell in love.

And... we got older, and the economy tanked so our investment for this went nowhere, and TSA made flying so unpleasant that i just didn't want to deal with it, and... so it's a lost dream.

I have a drawer full of "Antarctic" gems and stones (I'm a jeweler/metalsmith), and a notebook full of sketches... but it's just not going to happen for me.

I wish you the best in doing this, and if you manage it, I will follow your postings passionately... while also regretting all the things I've missed- sensibly so, but I still regret.

I'll shut up now.
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