There are numerous tales of compassion, camaraderie and selfless sacrifice surrounding the historic flooding in Boulder County and other parts of Colorado last September.
With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, filmmaker Aly Nicklas, 31, is hoping to make a movie sharing the tale of the Boulder Mudslingers, a grassroots bunch of local people who became a ubiquitous part of Boulder County's recovery efforts in the weeks and months after the disaster. Nicklas was a cofounder of the group.
"Mudslingers is the direct result of me watching people take action through film, and that's why I want to make a movie about it," Nicklas said.
She said she had no experience in disaster recovery or volunteer organization when she established a Facebook group in the immediate wake of the flood — Donate Boulder - Community Organized Flood Relief — that would eventually grow into the Boulder Mudslingers.
"I wanted to connect people who wanted to help to those who needed it, and there didn't seem to be a platform to do that," said Nicklas, who moved to Gold Hill in January. "It just took off."
Nicklas said what started as about 25 volunteers who shoveled mud out of the basements of 10 Boulder homes the weekend immediately after the disaster blossomed into a network that, by the end of November, had put in more than 20,000 combined hours helping people in Boulder, Longmont, Jamestown and elsewhere.
Now she is working to produce a film that will use the Mudslingers as an example of people becoming active participants, rather than spectators, in traumatic events.
"I want to share this story not only as a celebration of what our community did and how we came together, but also so that it can inspire people to do so in their communities," Nicklas said. "Film is such a powerful medium to inspire impact and create real social change."
Nicklas is hoping to raise $25,000 for "Knee Deep," as the short documentary project has been dubbed, through a Kickstarter campaign that runs through 10 a.m. July 25. As of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the crowdfunding effort has raised just shy of $5,500, chipped in by 96 individual backers.
The money will be used to help complete interviews, edit the film, fund the score and begin the distribution process, Nicklas said. She said the movie is a strictly not-for-profit project, and after a festival release she intends to provide it for free online.
Among the project's backers is Salina resident Gurpreet Gill.
Gill was taking refuge in a friend's cottage Sept. 12 when a mudslide landed a direct hit on the structure. She and the other occupants were eventually able to get out safely, but Gill had nothing but the clothes on her back and quickly discovered that while sandbags had saved her home from flooding, mud had covered her deck to the point she had to break a window to get into the house.
She said it was a few days later that a neighbor put her in touch with Mudslinger Isaac Savitz, a stranger who quickly sprung into action to help her in her time of need.
"He called me and said, 'What do you need? Where is your house? I will hike in and I will get you whatever you want,'" Gill recalled.
She said from there, other Mudslingers joined in the recovery efforts in Salina, clearing the mud from her deck, packing and moving her stuff into storage and providing her with valuable compassionate, human contact.
"I will say for our sanity up here — which was very thin and very fragile — (the Mudslingers) made a world of difference," she said.
Gill said she donated $100 to the "Knee Deep" Kickstarter campaign.
Gill's neighbor Julie Luckey said her home was fine, but the Mudslingers built her a dirt bridge and culvert so she could access her property across a water-damaged street.
"Here is a way to raise awareness for what we can do for each other as a community," Luckey said of the film project. "And that is tremendously important, to inspire."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.