Sunday, July 13, 2014

Newest Project - Trying to Win a Contest.

Rather than trying to recap all the stuff that's happened since April, none of it particularly unique or earth shattering, I think I'll just jump into describing that which has kept me occupied the past week or so.  National Geographic is conducting a contest that rivals "The Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials of XX (Dos Equis) beer. "Expedition Granted is National Geographic's nationwide search to find the next generation of explorers and to grant one person's dream expedition for $50,000.

I put the word out among some of my dog mushing friends that it might be fun to submit a proposal to reenact Hudson Stuck's 1905-06 tour in Interior, Alaska. Stuck described his trip in detail in the first five chapters of his book, Ten Thousand Miles with a Dog Sled.

I explained that my team can do it in historically authentic fashion, using dogs, equipment, clothing and so forth that is similar to that used by Stuck and his contemporaries. Someone suggested we could do it along with a modern long-distance racing team to contrast and compare historical to modern. Someone else mentioned that it would be very cool to compare and contrast the lifestyles observed by Stuck with those of the people we will encounter on our own tour. Another person suggested we could bring along a professional photographer to document it.

The response was quick, and very positive. In a very short time I had not one, but 2 dog mushing professional documentarians signed up for the project. Both Donna Quante and Scott Chesney contacted me, wanting to do photography and videography. Donna owns and operates Husky Productions, and Scott owns Loco Lobo Photographic Arts.  The next thing I knew, they were collaborating to put together the required 2 minute video proposal.

In less than a week we had their wonderfully well produced video ready to submit. Very shortly after submitting it, I was notified that the project has been accepted into the contest.

The next step is for our proposal to be chosen by National Geographic judges as one of the 10 best proposals. Then the contest will be opened to the public for on-line voting and the project that gets the most votes will win the grant.

So for now, we need to attract the judges attention to our project - and the only thing we can do at this point to increase our chances is to answer questions in a way that demonstrates how the project can meet the judging criteria. Here is how that criteria is described.

"The finalists will be selected based on their projects’ originality, impact, and viability.

  • Originality (50%): How original is the project? Is it a new idea or does it build upon an existing one? Does it expand upon the existing notion of exploration and push boundaries into uncharted territory?
  • Impact (30%): Does the project make a positive contribution to the local or global community? Does the idea have the potential to connect with the hearts and minds of others?
  • Viability (20%): Can the project be fully realized (with the right amount of time and money)? Will National Geographic's $50K prize allow for a healthy project start or full project execution?"

    Although I could answer the criteria based questions here, doing so won't get the attention of the judges. That has to be done through the project page on NatGeo's site.

    Meanwhile, the project seems to be getting a lot of attention from dog mushers. We have already recruited a multiple Iditarod finisher to do the tour as our modern team, and a world renouned sled dog veterinarian and musher who also wants to do the tour. I'm keeping their identities secret until they give me the OK to announce their names, but they are both very well known and lend a huge degree of credence to the expedition.

    If we win the grant, we will start the project by opening a blog dedicated to the project, and share the entire process, including lots of photographs and videos, from beginning to end. We will share the work and thought process that goes into planning the details of the trip, we will spend a lot of attention on Hudson's Stuck role in Alaskan history and the details of how we conduct the historical research necessary to make the journey as authentic as possible. As we get into next sled dog training season we'll share details of how we are training our teams as well as ourselves, and of course during the winter of 2015-16 we will retrace that 1900 mile journey, posting the images, video and stories of our experiences on that blog as frequently as Internet access in the bush allows.

    That's basically our plan. You can view our proposal video on line at I hope you'll check it out, maybe ask some questions and, if we do make the Top-10, vote for our project early and often. After all, you'll be able to cast 1 vote per day for the project of your choice - hopefully ours.

    1. Hi Swanny, Saw the 2 minute video, looks and sounds great! Will you use leather harnesses similar to the one I gave you several years ago? Do you have photos of what it looked like taken apart? Wonder if I could find someone here in the mtns that works will leather to make a reproduction of that old harness? I will vote early and often when the time comes!!! Dave Lukosik in the NC mtns

      1. Hi Dave. It's good to hear from you again. I do intend to build a set of leather neck-ring harnesses. I could never bring myself to taking apart the original, historical harness you sent, but I was able to find detailed descriptions of how they were made in the book NINE DOG WINTER by Bruce T. Bachelor.

        I appreciate your help and support.


      2. Thanks for mentioning the NINE DOG WINTER book I just ordered a copy from Amazon. Let us know when its time to vote.