Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

DRAWING CONCLUSIONS: "Comic artists have the ability to explain complex ideas quickly while engaging people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds," says Ashevillean Anna Whitley, a newcomer to the medium.

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.

Anna Whitley’s web comics

The “pussyhat” initiative launched prior to the 2016 Women’s March on Washington with a goal of transforming matching handmade pink hats into visual demands for women’s rights. It’s a concept that inspired former Xpress graphic designer Anna Whitley’s new art form: web comics in Spanglish. An outspoken family of characters in her storyline — led by mother, feminist activist and punk rocker Gina Dentada — wore the pink garments but “never took them off,” Whitley explains. “The hats grew down over their bodies and fused to their heads.” In detailing the exploits of this principled small-town tribe, she hopes to balance human-rights messaging with levity in addition to prompting civic engagement among her fans. Whitley aims to raise $750 by Friday, March 31, to fund art supplies, printed swag, an art exhibit and online community fees. She’ll also display the illustrations at KatDog Studios (441 North Louisiana Ave.) on Sunday, March 5, from 4-6 p.m.

Image from Whitley's campaign page
Image from Whitley’s campaign page

The Blind Pig Supper Club’s expansion

Using a network of independent chefs and a creative, collaborative flair, the Blind Pig Supper Club creates “meal experiences” for its members — with occasional secret settings and evolving themes adding to the artful ambiance. “These events have educated the public, raised awareness of cultural cuisine through experience and storytelling and effectively supported an array of charitable causes within our community,” co-founder and chef director Mike Moore writes on his crowdfunding page, noting that $72,000 in donations have been made to 90 charities in the six years since the Blind Pig launched. Much of this was accomplished by bootstrapping and relying upon personal resources and rentals, but Moore is hoping to obtain all of the equipment necessary to independently host future dinners, expand services and eventually open a community commissary kitchen. He aims to raise $25,000 by late March to buy items like a mobile range, used vehicle, dishwasher, tables, chairs, a sink and more.

Image from the Blind Pig's campaign page
Image from the Blind Pig’s campaign page

Don’t Wreck Asheville Coalition

The Don’t Wreck Asheville Coalition describes itself as “a grassroots group of Asheville organizations, businesses and residents united in its determination to ensure that the 2015 North Carolina Department of Transportation plans for the I-26 connector highway expansion are not constructed in their current form.” Suzanne Devane, who posted the crowdfunding page for DWAC, reasons that the transportation project could transform a beautiful, cohesive city into “a concrete spaghetti bowl of highways, fly-overs, and retaining and sound walls.” The group aims to raise $10,000 to oppose the highway expansion through tactics like posting yard signs, creating and distributing informational materials and hosting stakeholder meetings.

Image from Don't Wreck Asheville Coalition's crowdfunding page
Image from Don’t Wreck Asheville Coalition’s crowdfunding page

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

  1. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    The title of the cartoonist’s crowdfunding page captures the true purpose of the Women’s March better than any I’ve seen – Move like the Herd!. An exercise in mindless conformity to the will of the collective – ie, groupthink. Word play on Clinton’s campaign slogan captures this phenomenon equally as well – I’m With Herd.

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