You would think after 30 plus years of working freelance (no, in this case that is not code for I don’t have a job) I would have figured out that projects, especially big gnarly ones like Great Apes 2020 are a roller-coaster — and one in every manner imaginable: economic, logistic and especially emotional. The past couple weeks have definitely been a microcosm of the whole adventure.
Economic: Despite the better effort of multiple bright intelligent people we are still struggling to financially do everything we need — not want — to do. I was hoping we would have an NSF (National Science Fdn) RAPID grant (a couple hundred grand) in hand to commit to Ebola ecology reporting and work in Africa. Not the case, but creeping oh so much closer — should be ready to submit again early next week. The roller-coaster did take a swing upwards with the good news that EcoHealth Alliance is interested in partnering in the field with Great Apes 2020 which will lend huge scientific credibility to the work, and additional confidence to the NSF funders.
Logistic: Had to delay the Cameroon departure which may throw other plans into minor chaos, but the reporting tools—website and ESRI Story Map—just aren’t there and without them reporting back, especially LIVE just falls on its face. So postponing a couple weeks is the only logical answer. In addition, the one perfect camera/travel pack is not close to ready (I would have left without it and cobbled together a pack), but the up side of the roller-coaster ride is that I started talks with folks atThink Tank Photo and fingers-crossed that will lead to the magic pack I have been lusting for since starting this project.
Emotional: I so want to be in the field working. I love the research, don’t get me wrong, but feels like months since I have gotten my boots really filthy muddy, flicked off a leach, drank a really crappy tropical lager beer and was happy, or thought twice about that mosquito that just bit me… “malaria?” On the other hand despite the ridiculous cold in Philadelphia and NYC last week (more on that in another posting) it was great to work with all the team at the Philly Zoo and feed off their enthusiasm for this project and what we plan to accomplish working together. That led to a great meeting at Oregon Zoo and I’m looking forward to working with them in the coming weeks and months. More partners are only going to make the opportunity of creating real change around the extinction prediction for great apes a reality.
So everyday has my little roller-coaster car climbing up, then swooping down. Sometimes it repays a couple times during the day. All part of the ride. I know that. I have been on this ride multiple times over the past three decades. Amazing really, considering how much I really hate roller-coasters!