My Journey: The Wilds of Chicago

$48,319 of $72k goal

Raised by 160 people in 18 months
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The fundraiser is over and the book is now available for immediate delivery! 

IMPORTANT: When you pledge your support, you recieve a gift. Books start at $69, but $20 and $35 gets you sets of my Chicago Nature note cards that feature pictures from the book. See all 14 gifts at the bottom of this page.


Hi, I'm Mike MacDonald.

Thank you for taking the time to consider being a part of this exciting book and my vision to connect Chicagoans with nature  and to celebrate its wonder.

The book is entitled "My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago: A Celebration of Chicagoland's Startling Natural Wonders." It's a big, 12x12", 240-page
coffee table photography book, and I am the photographer, author, and publisher.

I began working on the book four-and-a-half years ago, but I've been learning about and photographing Chicago nature for twenty-two years. I'm creating this book because I want to make a difference. I want my photographs to help make the world a better place.

The book contains over 200 photographs, but that's just the half of it. I've written 47 inspirational and educational chapters about Chicago's fascinating habitats and species, plus stories of my journey along the way. The book also features chapters on 24 of Chicagoland's finest nature preserves for you to visit!

To prove that I'm not the only person who believes in my vision, I am honored to announce that two esteemed individuals have written forewords for the book: legendary journalist, Bill Kurtis, and world-renowned conservationist, Stephen Packard.

          "The words 'electrifying' and 'monumental' come to mind.
           I can imagine many people saying, 'This book changed my life.'"
                                                                                                     — Stephen Packard

          "Your book is a remarkable tool in getting people to understand,
           to appreciate, and to take action to preserve the prairie."
                                                                                                      — Bill Kurtis

So, now, here's the time where I ask for your generosity and support, to make my vision your vision, so that I can publish 3,000 world-class books. Pledge if you can, but please tell everyone you know.
Send this link to everyone: .

To say thank you, for any pledge of $5 or more, you'll receive a gift. Give $69 and you'll receive the book.  (A $20 savings.) Please see the full list of rewards below.

To learn about the book and my vision, please see the information below. If you haven't seen the video, click here to watch it .

So there you have it. If you believe in this vision or just believe in me, one that will make a difference, and one that has filled my heart for the past 20 years.

Thank you so much!


My goal is reconnect people with nature through the publication of an educational and inspiring coffee table photography book entitled My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago: A Celebration of Chicagoland's Startling Natural Wonders.

This lovely coffee table photography book reveals Chicago's startling natural wonders. Passionate & humorous, it tells an inspirational story of a photographer’s personal adventure in the urban wild. With over 200 breathtaking images of Chicago's nature preserves, this book will give you plenty of beautiful places to explore!

Mike MacDonald can be described in just one word; "passion." And Mike is passionate about Chicago nature.

For over two decades, Mike MacDonald has photographed Chicago’s natural wonders: its prairies, savannas, woodlands, and wetlands.

His celebratory work made him Chicago Wilderness magazine’s most prominently published photographer, but his images have been nationally and internationally featured in many publications such as Outdoor Photographer, Petersen’s Photographic, Boy’s Life, and BBC’s Gardens Illustrated magazine.

Mike lives with his wife, Cordy, in Downers Grove.

Here, I'm photographing rough blazing star in a Hodgkins, IL prairie.

In our fast-pace world of technology, where populations are becoming more urbanized and life is increasing experienced on electronic screens, people are losing their connection to nature. Yet nature is all around us, especially if you live in the Chicago area.

There are more than 225,000 acres (or 352 square miles) of natural area within an hour's drive of downtown Chicago. But few Chicagoans know it’s there. Unfortunately, you can't love and support something that doesn't exist. So, I’ve made it my mission is to play matchmaker!

Through this book and public speaking presentations, my goal is to introduce millions of Chicagoans to the natural wonders that surround them and to rekindle that love of nature which smolders inside everyone. And with this rediscovered love comes the possibility of a cultural shift—a new understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of nature and biodiversity. And you can help!

This June sunrise in Elgin, Illinois is as glorious as any place on Earth.

In this Cook County wetland, great blue herons hunt in sublime synchronicity.

In the winter, pull yourself out of bed. Trade a world of forgotten dreams for a dream world that you'll always remember!

The goal is $72,000 to cover all of my out-of-pocket expenses to promote my vision of reconnecting people with nature through the use of a world-class book, traditional and social media, website, public speaking, and other creative possibilities.

The vast majority of the funds will go directly towards the production of 3,000 hard-cover books and to spread the word about Chicago's natural wonders.

This includes $40,000 for printing, $5,000 for editing and proofreading, $5,500 for book and map design, $1,500 for publishing-related registrations, $5,000 for marketing, $3,000 to update website, $6,400 for shipping and handling for this campaign, and $5,600 (or 8%) in commissions and fees to GoFundMe.

               Click here to download an excerpt!

May brings a profusion of hyacinth to this rare savanna.

In August, this woodland in Willow Springs towers with purple Joe-pye weed. Here, the final light of day caught their feathery plumes.

Chicago nature can be as wild as any place. Here, a lone coyote crosses a partially frozen wetland near Palos Heights.

This is a typical morning in one of Chicagoland's prairies!

In the morning, carefully explore the dewy prairie grasses and you may discover a pearly gem.

When snow clings to the trees, Chicago is transformed into a fairyland.

Feel the embrace of the bur oaks in this intimate oak savanna.

Curious white-tailed deer stare intensely at me through the golden fog.

"FIREWORKS": A print of this photo is available as a reward (below). It is also the cover of the book. In July, Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester, Illinois explodes with color and texture.

Every pledge comes with a gift of like value.
Please see the list of rewards below.

Click here to download an excerpt from the book!
Visit my website:


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Update 4
Posted by Mike MacDonald
13 months ago

I wanted to share some wonderful breaking news!

My self-published book, "My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago" was glowingly reviewed and legitimized by the world's most prestigious book-review publication, Publishers Weekly.

Read it online here:

Here's the text of the review:

There is much to admire in MacDonald’s book filled with glorious, full-color photographs of Chicago’s woodlands, wetlands, and prairies, which he deems “a portal to the marvels of our natural world.” This impressive, cloth-bound debut is a lucid perspective on the prairie and its native plants and animals; it is celebratory, soulful, and poetic, evoking a strong affection for Chicago’s unchecked wilderness in a city best known for its iconic lakefront and skyscrapers. MacDonald’s images take readers to nearby forest preserves that show off the flatlands’ diversity of growth and distinct surfaces in stunning colors and pleasing composition: a yellow-flowering skunk cabbage beneath a burgundy speckled covering; shimmering ice sculptures and snow-covered, frosty foliage; and carpets of radiant flowers and tall grasses. MacDonald is highly knowledgeable about native and foreign or invasive species of plants: their smell, healing (or harmful) qualities, and how they interact with the soil. His ornate and thoughtful prose creates an easily grasped and truly memorable reflection on the relationship between humans and our natural “nonhuman neighbors,” and the inspiration we can draw from observing rivers, trees, plants and wildlife. Color photos. (BookLife)

Thanks for your support!

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Update 3
Posted by Mike MacDonald
14 months ago

As one of my supporters, I wanted to give your heads up about my next media appearance. Listen to my live interview on Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ - 91.5FM) on Monday, Feb. 8 at about 12:15 pm. I'll be appearing on a wonderful and thoughtful show called Worldview, hosted by Jerome McDonnell. It's exciting to be on his show because Jerome is a native gardener and loves Chicago nature.

And don't forget. This Saturday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 pm, you're invited to attend my presentation and premiere book signing event at Frugal Muse Books in Darien, Illinois.

(If you are already on my email list, please excuse a duplicate email that I'll be sending out soon.)

Thanks so much for your support!

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Update 2
Posted by Mike MacDonald
14 months ago
My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago has reached 58% of its goal thanks to Art Gara of Art & Linda's Wildflowers.
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Update 1
Posted by Mike MacDonald
16 months ago


Aside from those of you who have asked to pick up your books, all book orders were shipped out on Friday, December 18. They were shipped via USPS Priority Mail with 2-Day delivery (Saturday counts as a day). Therefore, according to the post office, your package should arrive by Monday, Dec. 21, but this is Christmastime, so please be patient. Everyone should have their books by Christmas.

If you ordered an ebook, expect to receive a link to download your book by Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Have a great holiday!
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Read a Previous Update
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$48,319 of $72k goal

Raised by 160 people in 18 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
 Share on Facebook
Created October 13, 2015
Mike MacDonald  
Grass Roots
THANK YOU POSTCARD: Mike thanks you for your participation with a personally signed postcard that features one of his Chicago nature photographs.
CHICAGO NATURE NOTE CARD SET of 4: Set of 4 of Mike's big, beautiful, 5x7", note cards that celebrate Chicago's year-round beauty. No Int'l Shipping.
Four Seasons
"FOUR SEASONS" CHICAGO NATURE NOTE CARD SET of 8: Set of Mike's big, beautiful, 5x7", note cards celebrating Chicago's year-round beauty. No Int'l Shipping.
THE BOOK ($91 VALUE): No Int'l Shipping.
2 BOOKS (You save $43!): Keep one and give the other away. That's what it's all about. No Int'l Shipping.
Oak Savanna
3 BOOKS (You save $63!): Keep one and give away the others. That's what it's all about. No Int'l Shipping.
Shooting Star
5 BOOKS (You save $106!): Keep one and give away the rest. That's what it's all about. No Int'l Shipping.
Blazing Star
10 BOOKS (You save$208!): Keep one and give away the rest. That's what it's all about. No Int'l Shipping.
25 BOOKS (You save $520!): Keep one for yourself and donate the rest. That's what it's all about. No Int'l Shipping.
50 BOOKS (You save $1180!): Keep one for yourself and donate the rest. That's what it's all about. No Int'l Shipping.
100 BOOKS (You save $2819!): Keep one and donate the rest. That's what it's all about. No Int'l Shipping.
PRIVATE LANDSCAPE PHOTO WORKSHOP: Three days of private, one-on-one lessons with Mike in the classroom and the field. Photograph locations in the book.
David Levinson
13 months ago
Sue Lannin
14 months ago
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Wauconda Area Public Library
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