Seasons in the Sanctuary: A Crowd-funded Poster Project

The final Seasons in the Sanctuary poster. Image © by and courtesy of Doug Ross and Crystal Birns.
The final Seasons in the Sanctuary poster. Image © by and courtesy of Doug Ross and Crystal Birns.

“When you talk about the seasons, most people think of spring wildflowers, autumn leaves, winter storms… But the ocean, too, has its seasons, which are at least as dramatic as those on land. The difference is that changes in the sea are often invisible to us land dwellers.” Kim Fulton-Bennett author of the website “Seasons in the Sea.”

The existence of the “Seasons in the Sanctuary” poster illustrates what can come from one person with an inspired idea and a crowd-funding source, in this case, Kickstarter.

Crystal Birns has spent many hours running and walking along the Monterey Bay. She knows that every year there’s an underwater animal safari the scale of which is hard to conceive. Humpback whales, dolphins, seals, grey whales, killer whales, sea lions and sea otters, many species of seabirds, even leatherback turtles all migrate through. Her idea was to make a poster that is a beautiful visual aid illustrating which animals are in Monterey Bay at any given time of year.

This project was a labor of love, but in her day job, Crystal works as the Arts Program Manager for the City of Santa Cruz. So she has connections with the right people to make a project happen.

She met with local Santa Cruz artist-illustrator, and marine mammal rescue volunteer, Doug Ross, to flesh out the possibilities. The pair came up with preliminary sketches and then a draft version. Dan Haifley, executive director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey, readily agreed to hand out posters to the 200+ classrooms served by the nonprofit’s ocean science field trips each year. Finally, local videographer Bryan Coleman helped make the required Kickstarter video.

The video was simple and effective. In 3 minutes and 53 seconds, Crystal spoke of her inspiration, Doug of his artwork, and Dan of how O’Neill Sea Odyssey would use the poster to inspire thousands of 4th to 6th grade kids in their  program each year.

Students of the O’Neil Sea Odyssey program learn navigation basics. Photo courtesy of and © O’Neil Sea Odyssey.
Students of the O’Neil Sea Odyssey program learn navigation basics. Photo courtesy of and © O’Neil Sea Odyssey.

In 25 days in late 2012 their Kickstarter campaign raised $4,808 dollars. Their target goal was $4000- pretty much all for printing costs. The thank you gifts ranged from a simple thank you to a framed and signed special print edition of the poster.

View Their Kickstarter Video: Seasons in the Sanctuary

Since funding, 500 posters have been delivered to O’Neill Sea Odyssey. They’ve distributed one to each classroom that goes on the tour. They are a huge hit with teachers and kids. The poster will also be used as an interpretive aid in kiosks at the Santa Cruz Harbor and on the Santa Cruz Wharf. Design for the pocket guides is currently being mocked up by a local printer. Posters can be purchased at Bookshop Santa Cruz, The Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center and Seymour Center. Net proceeds from posters sold at Bookshop Santa Cruz benefit O’Neill Sea Odyssey.

For the funders of the project, they can be happy that this project delivered. It is helping connect thousands of kids and tourists to the Monterey Bay.

The success rate for a Kickstarter project as of October 5th, 2013 is 44% and most funded projects are less than $10,000. If you have a great idea and a few volunteers to help, crowd source funding is definitely something to consider. Here is a link to a post that discusses 10 crowd-funding websites. 10 Crowdfunding Sites to Fuel Your Dream Project

Take the Self-Guided Mobile Tour

This piece is part of the Marine Life Guide. Download the free app with many tours of the Santa Cruz area and beyond.

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About The Author

I really enjoy field trips. I love being in a cool place and having someone tell me about it. The problem is, you can’t always find a professor or park ranger-type to tell you all they know about the local rocks, plants, and history. So I decided to combine my love of things natural with mobile technology.

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7 Comments

  1. Crystal Birns

    Thanks so much for the article! Two more people who were integral to making this project happen are scientists Kim Fulton-Bennett (mentioned above) and Lisa Uttal, Director of NOAA’s Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz. We couldn’t have done it without their help. Huge thanks to Lisa and Kim.

    Reply
  2. Julia Gaudinski

    Thanks Crystal! Thanks to you Kim Fulton-Bennet, Lisa Uttal, and everyone who donated so much time and care to make the poster project a great success! I can’t wait for the pocket guide which I know is coming out soon!

    Reply
  3. Julia Gaudinski

    Glad you want a poster Nic! Posters can be purchased at Bookshop Santa Cruz, The Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center and Seymour Center. Net proceeds from posters sold at Bookshop Santa Cruz benefit O’Neill Sea Odyssey.

    Reply

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