Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

DIFFERENT CULTURES: Smiling Hara Tempeh co-owner Chad Oliphant stays proactive when it comes to ingredients, food production techniques and sustainability. During the development of Smiling Hara's Hempeh product, for instance, he partnered with hemp advocates and farmers before the crop was legalized in North Carolina. And now he's traveling to Indonesia to learn more about production processes and recipes as well as cultural factors surrounding tempeh. Image from Smiling Hara's campaign page

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.

A trip for Smiling Hara Tempeh

In March, Smiling Hara Tempeh co-owner Chad Oliphant will travel to Java and Bali “to study tempeh production — from small, traditional village-scale production to large factory style production,” he says. Not only will Oliphant pay attention to processes and recipes, but he’ll also meet with organizations like SCoPe and Mercy Corps, which help village producers with tempeh equipment and safety, among other issues. “I am going to be on the go on every day, researching tempeh production and how tempeh fits into Indonesian culture and national identity,” he says. “Tempeh is the staple food of the poor, yet is becoming too expensive for many Indonesians.  I will be meeting with organizations that are looking to address this problem.” In addition, Oliphant says he’ll take on the role of cultural ambassador, educating Indonesians on tempeh’s rising popularity in the United States and importance as part of a sustainable food chain. “While in the biggest Muslim-populated country in the world,” he adds, “I will inform [people] that the rhetoric and actions of our new administration do not reflect the majority of Americans.” Smiling Hara aims to raise $2,500 to cover trip expenses, including plane tickets, interpreters and more.

As a special local perk, co-owner Sarah Yancey says contributors of any level can tour Smiling Hara’s Barnardsville factory and take home a “fuzzy white block” of unpasteurized soy Hempeh on Monday, March 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. “The only other place to find fresh, authentic tempeh like this is Indonesia — unless you make your own at home,” she adds.

The Luxury Spirit’s new album

With guidance from Landslide Studio owner Andrew Schatzberg, local band The Luxury Spirit has completed most of the work needed for a third LP titled A Cloud That Settled Near. Bandmates Bob Burnette and George Sweet write on their crowdfunding page that “this is without a doubt the best album we have ever made.” The moody rock band aims to raise $2,000 by Monday, March 6, to cover the remaining production steps: mastering the recordings and pressing 300 copies of the final product.

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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11 thoughts on “Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

  1. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    ““Tempeh is the staple food of the poor, yet is becoming too expensive for many Indonesians”

    How in the world is tempeh too expensive for Indonesians to afford? That doesn’t make sense. All you need is grains/legumes/beans and some tempeh culture to make your own. If they don’t have those things (which I doubt) it means they’re starving.

    Oh and while you’re there, be sure to visit Banda Aceh and get back with us about human rights there (especially women’s rights). That place shows how quickly majority muslim populations can devolve into Islamic totalitarianism.

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