Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Musicians Ben Martin and Jonathan Reuel have written more than 20 songs together — a handful of which they hope to record and release as The Robot EP upon completing their crowdsourcing fundraiser. “These songs are set in a world of bakeries and airships, villains, birds and a robot looking for Jesus,” Reuel writes on the duo's campaign page for The Robot EP. Illustration by Reuel

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

The Robot EP

Four years ago, when Ben Martin and Jonathan Reuel both resided in the Asheville area, the two began playing music together. “As I started taking guitar lessons from [Jonathan], that eventually turned into jam sessions, therefore turning into songwriting,” Martin recalls. “Right as he was about to leave, we were both a little bit sad [and] disappointed about having all these good songs together and not really doing anything with them — just putting them up on a shelf [as] a good memory.” To remedy the situation, Reuel is driving back to the mountains from his Indiana home to record four to six songs right where they were created. These will become The Robot EP, and Reuel has also created several robot drawings to accompany the musical project. The partners in art aim to raise $2,800 by Thursday, Nov. 5, to cover two days worth of studio time, studio musician fees, travel expenses, plus design and printing costs for CDs, posters and t-shirts.

Just Us United’s launch

Formed by WNC natives Jesse Davis, Adam White, and Kelsey Tavares, Just Us United is a newly launched vehicle for political change across the state. “Our organization is based on ‘mountain populism,’ as my co-founder calls it,” says Tavares. “We believe when people think of Asheville, they think of a place that is inclusive, that accepts each individual’s uniqueness and that takes pride in being weird. Similarly, our organization is seeking to unite us through our common values.” To that end, Just Us avoids activism on contentious topics and instead focuses efforts on more agreeable policies that the founders believe support the average North Carolina family. “Just Us United is organizing in predominately rural communities that are often overlooked by mainstream progressive groups to make sure our schools are fully funded, affordable health care is accessible, safe energy alternatives are promoted, tax reform benefits the middle class and divisive social politics are a thing of the past,” reads a release from the organization. The trio of young activists aims to raise $5,000 to fund activities like voter outreach and education, implementation of a field program and organization of other public events like town hall meetings, forums and door-to-door canvassing.

Logo courtesy of Just Us United
Logo courtesy of Just Us United

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress’ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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