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Reaching for the Final Frontier

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Star Trek cast on deck

We are happy to share this blog written by Rick Chambers, owner and president of public relations firm Rick Chambers & Associates, LLC. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, he has worked in the communications field in the greater Kalamazoo area for more than 32 years.

At right, Star Trek New Voyages cast members Brandon Stacy (Spock), Brian Gross (Kirk), and Jeff Bond are pictured on the bridge of the starship Enterprise. (McCoy).

Here are five words I never thought I'd say, "I write for Star Trek."

Nearly half a century after the much-loved television series debuted (then cancelled three short years later), that's the amazing opportunity I've been blessed with through the award-winning web series Star Trek New Voyages.

A little history: Star Trek was the brainchild of TV writer/producer Gene Roddenberry, who wanted to bring serious science fiction to the small screen. Despite its short tenure, Star Trek inspired a dozen films, four spin-off shows, and a generation of scientists, engineers, and astronauts-as well as one young Michigander who wanted to be a writer.

Intrigued by its thought-provoking stories and engaging characters, I morphed from a child playing Star Trek in my backyard to an aspiring author jotting Trek and non-Trek tales of my own. Writing became a passion that led to a career-first as a journalist, then in public relations-and creative efforts including award-winning short stories and a novel.

Rick Chambers making script revisions

Chambers is pictured working on a script revision during the filming of "Mind-Sifter" in June 2014.

Then came Star Trek New Voyages. Created by James Cawley and produced by Cawley Entertainment Company and Retro Films Studios, it's a loving re-creation of the 1960s series. Sets, costuming, lighting, direction, and stories all perfectly replicate the original show. The cast includes accomplished actors such as Brian Gross (Captain James T. Kirk), Brandon Stacy (Mr. Spock), and Jeff Bond (Dr. Leonard McCoy).

Many behind-the-scenes people at Star Trek New Voyages (including Cawley) have links to Star Trek's Hollywood roots. Some of the actors from the classic series have made appearances, including George Takei, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney, John Winston, William Windom, and others.

As a writer, I've been involved in four episodes. The first released, "Mind-Sifter," for which I did the teleplay based on the beloved short story by Shirley Maiewski, garnered great reviews and several award nominations. The second, an original tale titled "The Holiest Thing," is next up for release. A third is in post-production, and the fourth is slated for the cameras this year.

An especially rewarding part of Star Trek New Voyages is one of compassion. The people involved care deeply about the show and about each other. That's spilled over into my own community. When we screened "Mind-Sifter" in Kalamazoo and Jackson earlier this year, my business pledged money to child literacy programs for every person who showed up in costume. People responded, and we raised $500 in each community.

Rick Chambers speaking at the Alamo

Chambers speaks to the crowd at Alamo Drafthouse in Kalamazoo after a screening of "Mind-Sifter" in January 2015.

It's satisfying to experience all this from my hometown. There's a unique creative energy here, a rich artistic culture that simmers and glows and inspires. I've had the privilege of sharing my writing life through talks to local groups, literary contests, news media, and even a special screening of "Mind-Sifter" at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema-all accompanied by great encouragement.

Some people might expect a writer to set up shop in a large metropolitan locale. Indeed, throughout my professional life, I've had opportunities to live elsewhere. But I've never had a desire to live and write anywhere other than Kalamazoo.

Brian Gross outside the Alamo

Actor Brian Gross is pictured outside Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Kalamazoo during a screening of "Mind-Sifter" in January 2015.

All images are courtesy of Garth Gullekson, the official photographer for Star Trek New Voyages.

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