Get yourself a Bee Badge!

Image of eight different Bee Badges.

A few days ago, we posed a question: In these last two weeks of crowdfunding for the Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante, how many more people can help pollinate this project with $5 of support?

Well, let’s sweeten the deal: Anyone who contributes $5 or more in the next 5 days (through Tuesday, April 23) will receive a kick-ass Bee Badge!

These digital badges are based on Joe Wilson’s amazing photo work and represent just a sliver of the immense diversity of bees in the national monument. We have eight Bee Badges to choose from! Perfect for profile photos or wearing on the digital lapel of your web presence.

To date, we’ve had only two $5 contributions. And that is just surprising! Because if there’s one thing we can learn from the bees around us, it’s that the tiniest things often make a huge difference.

So lend your support with just $5 in the next 5 days, and get a Bee Badge that will make you the envy of all your digital friends. (Not to mention earning our deepest gratitude for helping to move this project forward.)

Thank you, friends!

To get your Bee Badge: Make a donation of $5 or more by April 23, 2019, through our ioby fundraising page. On the last step of the checkout process, do two things. 1. Type the name of your preferred bee in the “Display me publicly as” box; you can include your name and the bee name, or just the bee name. 2. Make sure the “Please share my email address with the leader(s) of this project” box is checked; Bee Badges will be delivered by email, so we need to know your address. When all that is complete, start thinking of all the ways you can digitally display your Badge!

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With two weeks left, it’s the little things that make a big difference

Image of tiny bee on a quarter.

The snow has melted. Tax Day is over. No more waiting for Game of Thrones. These distractions have passed and now we can focus on something really important: There are only two more weeks in our ioby crowdfunding campaign for the Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante!

The level of support we’ve received over the past month and a half has been astounding. But there’s an interesting fact hidden in this outpouring of generosity: We’ve only had two $5 contributions. This is really surprising! Because if there’s one thing we can learn from the bees around us, it’s that the tiniest things often make a huge difference!

So let’s give a special shout-out to our $5 contributors – high-fives and many thanks for making a difference! In these last two weeks, how many more people can help pollinate this project with $5 of support?

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Collecting bees in the desert

Image of blooming cactus.

I cannot wait to be back on the ground in Utah. This place is special. I am always amazed by how a space so open and vast can embrace you so closely with its colors, smells and sounds. If you really want to understand the desert, you have to move at a different pace and look at it with different eyes – just like learning to speak in a different language. Finding bees here requires you to move with that same pace and with the same eyes. I am counting down the days until we’re back at this.

Joe, however, has already been lucky enough to get out into the desert looking for bees. At the end of March, he, Lindsey and their family spent a weekend helping colleagues search for pollinators in an area right next to the Grand Canyon. Specifically, they were focused on pollinators visiting an endangered cactus (Pediocactus bradyi) that only grows on the cliffs overlooking this natural wonder.

Image of cliffs overlooking rapids.
Joe looking for cacti on the cliffs.
Image of person with net looking at cactus on the ground.
Lindsey waiting patiently for pollinators to visit a small blooming cactus.

Unfortunately, by the end of the trip, they hadn’t found any pollinators on the endangered cacti – which may have been the result of chilly weather blowing through. However, Joe did find a few bee species on other plants in the area. Interestingly, he only found males, which tend to emerge before the females.

Image of four different bee species.
Joe found males of four different bee species. Top row: Osmia, Andrena. Bottom row: Eucera, Anthophora

But this is exactly what it’s like to survey bees – or any species – in a specific area in short span of time: you’re never certain what you’re going to find, but it sure will be interesting. This is the same uncertainty and thrill we have waiting for us this spring.

The desert always moves in its own unique way, and I can’t wait to see what it will show us this time around.

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Center for Biological Diversity supports the Bees of GSENM

Macro image of a bee, upclose and personal.

We are thrilled to announce that the Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante has the support of the Center for Biological Diversity!

“We’re proud to support this great project, which will simultaneously help raise awareness of the amazingly rich diversity of our native bees and also the huge importance of our public lands for protecting that diversity,” says Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit organization made up of activists, scientists and lawyers dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places through science, law and creative media. This one line from their mission says it all: “We want those who come after us to inherit a world where the wild is still alive.”

You might be familiar with the Center’s work generally from a recent New York Times story about how secretary of the interior nominee David Bernhardt effectively killed a four-year study into the impact that three widely-used pesticides could have on 1,400 endangered species. But you should also know that the Center for Biological Diversity has a strong commitment to protecting bees and other pollinators specifically. For example, in just the past six months, the Center has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list two bees – the Mojave Poppy bee and the Gulf Coast solitary bee – as endangered species. And in 2017, the Center published Pollinators in Peril, a systematic status review of native bees in North America that shows 749 species are likely in decline.

“At a time when both native bees and public lands face unprecedented threats, this project could not be more timely and needed,” Lori Ann says.

We are extremely grateful to the Center for Biological Diversity for its generous contribution to our project. Combined with the incredible support we continue to receive from individuals across the country, our total is now over $13,000!

Thank you one and all for helping move the Bees of GSENM forward! Our crowdfunding campaign has been extended through the end of April, so let’s spread the word and keep this momentum going!

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Meet Mariana… and our new logo!

Image of Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante logo

There’s one thing that’s essential to the success of a project like this: a kick-ass logo! And now we have one, thanks to the rock-star work of Mariana Prieto.

Mariana is a designer dedicated to the development of innovation in wildlife conservation; she’s focused on solving challenges that are rooted in or affected by human behavior. “Anywhere you have human beings who are making choices, you can have design,” Mariana says. And protecting the wild places of this world is all about the choices we make.

Image of Mariana with sunglasses.Mariana rarely does work as a graphic designer. Yes, she’s an amazing illustrator and is co-creating a graphic novel series about superheroes who protect endangered animals. But her time, energy and skills are mostly committed to Design for Wildlife, a collective of creative talent working to support wildlife organizations facing a variety of challenges. Fortunately, she was all in on our request for help with our visual identity.

“I love bees!” she says. “The graphic novel doesn’t include any bees. But now I might have to add some!”

Big thanks to Mariana for her contribution to the Bees of GSENM project. We are thrilled to have her on our team!

You can read more about Mariana on our Team page.

We’re extending the deadline!

Image of road from inside a truck.

Important news, everyone: We’re extending our ioby campaign through the end of April! Figuring out this crowdfunding piece of the project has been a fascinating learning experience. And one thing we’ve learned is that while one month might be enough time to build momentum – we need two months to keep it rolling!

Our crowdfunding total has been slowly climbing towards our goal, so we want to give that time to continue. Many people have reached out to us and asked if March is the only time they can contribute – would there be ways to add support in the following weeks? We also have some really exciting things coming our way in the next month. And, as previously mentioned, working with ioby means we get to keep whatever amount we raise, which will help cover our cost for getting back on the ground. So, for all these reasons, we’ve decided to push our crowdfunding deadline to April 30.

Big thanks to all of you who have contributed to the Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante so far! We are most grateful! And we’re absolutely thrilled for the opportunities ahead.

More soon!

Meet Tony, our director of photography

Image of fim crew in desert road.

For a project like this to succeed, you need to have someone who is both gifted and experienced at the art of visual storytelling. And Tony Di Zinno is our man!

I first met Tony in the Black Hills of South Dakota, shooting photos and film for a three-day musical and cultural gathering of the Lakota Sioux and other Native people. As we maneuvered on the edges of both stage and meeting grounds, seeking the perfect angles from which to tell the story of this event, Tony’s mastery of the lens was obvious. And the respect he conveyed as a guest in this special place was evident in everything he said and did.

Image of Native American performer on stage.

Tony’s career has been one of telling beautiful stories of endurance and fortitude, environmental activism, and social justice. Tony got his start working for a Rolling Stone photographer, then broke out on his own shooting portraits and action shots of iconic sports figures for Adidas, Nike and The North Face. He moved on to photographing and filming extreme motorsports and human-powered racing events across the globe, and eventually landed in Afghanistan working with Mountain2Mountain – a project that operates in conflict zones to create education and opportunity for women and girls to be agents of change within their own communities.

“I’ve never tolerated bullies of any kind since I was a kid,” says Tony, speaking of the social issues he’s embraced. “This really hasn’t changed as I’ve grown up. In fact, it’s only become a deeper conviction.”

Tony currently works with the Endangered Activism project, which is focused on engaging youth culture and reconnecting young people with the natural world through uniquely modern visual storytelling.

One of the things I admire most about Tony is his mantra of preparation. “It’s only the best prepared who are ready for when the most fleeting, ephemeral and sublime moments present themselves,” he says. There may be no better example of this mantra in practice than a recent trip to Botswana, where Tony captured on film a leopard hunting and striking its prey. It was such a rare moment that even the guide he was working with couldn’t believe they saw it happen. (Be forewarned: the following video captures a moment of Nature that is truly red in tooth and claw.)

“When something happens so quickly and there is no warning, the reward only goes to those who have prepared for success in anticipation of these possibilities,” says Tony. It’s exactly this level of preparation and discipline that we’ll need to film the bees in Grand Staircase-Escalante. We may only get one chance to capture any given moment of their exquisite little lives.

Tony’s thoughtful way of being in the world and his vast experience have helped this project become what it is today. Telling the story of the monument bees has not been an easy one; it started out as a print story and tripped plenty of times in the pursuit of publication – including having different media outlets show interest in the story and then back away. When I was at one of my lowest moments in the journey, it was Tony who asked, “Have you ever considered making a documentary to reach even more people than any single article could?”

I had not, of course. So I responded, “Have you ever considered working on a documentary about bees in one of the most beautiful places on Earth?”

Fortunately for all of us, Tony didn’t just recognize the opportunity for making this story even more impactful; he was also game to take it on.

You can read more about Tony on our Team page.