Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding campaigns

"Chickens are a perfect starting point for anyone who wants to be more connected to their food," says Justin Rhodes, creator of Asheville's newest chicken-raising film tutorial. Photo of key film contributors from Justin Rhodes' Kickstarter page

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise startup 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.


For permaculturist Justin Rhodes, some of life’s most beautiful moments occur at the dinner table — specifically, when he knows the story behind his family’s food. That’s why Rhodes is setting out to create an educational film on raising chickens “from hatching to the plate (and everything in between).” Years of research and trial-and-error progress enabled Rhodes to build a sustainable homestead, but the journey wasn’t easy. The husband and father says he wants to empower others by truncating that learning curve, which can often be daunting despite — or perhaps due to — the vast amount of information on permaculture topics. Chickens, he says, are “the gateway toward self-reliance,” as they require relatively low maintenance and offer many benefits to the land (mitigating pests, tilling and fertilizing soil, speeding the composting process, etc.) in addition to producing eggs and meat. Rhodes has already exceeded his film fundraising goal of $25,349, and his deadline for the campaign is Thursday, March 5.


“Our worker-owned co-op is expanding into a new location on Haywood Road, and we need your help!” reads Firestorm Café and Books’ campaign page. In six years of operation, the original location hosted over 1,400 community gatherings, eventually outgrowing its downtown basement storefront. But finding a 2,500-square-foot space in West Asheville has prompted changes beyond inventory expansion (although you can expect about 1,500 new book titles, too). In addition to revamping co-op members’ “symbolic compensation” to include monetary payments, the café will offer a sizable community room and shared office space housing the Center for Participatory Change and another “yet-to-be-named” nonprofit. Firestorm aims to raise $13,000 by Monday, March 2, so the store can continue to offer strong coffee, good reads and ample community event space at the new location. Notably, the Fund for Democratic Communities has awarded Firestorm a grant and will match contributions of less than $100 until the campaign’s conclusion.


Lauren ‘Onça’ O’Leary, Absfest organizer and belly dancer extraordinaire, began her immersion into the world of Tarot in 1992. By 2001, her deck-and-book package World Spirit Tarot, co-written with partner Jessica Godino, was published by Llewellyn and hailed as “an instant classic” for its eclectic-yet-accessible approach to exploring the multicultural tradition. Now, a $140 price tag often hangs from the out-of-print book — a number out of sync with the author’s vision of inclusivity. With legal permissions already in place, O’Leary aims to raise $8,500 by Monday, March 2, to republish the book and re-establish its accessibility among the masses.

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 WNC projects here.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

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

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

3 thoughts on “Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding campaigns

  1. Justin Rhodes

    Thanks for sharing this! I love having the local support for this international project!

    • Kat McReynolds

      Absolutely! It looks like a great project — one that many locals and others will be interested in learning from. I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Thanks for sharing your expertise.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.