Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

TUNE IN: Produced by Dave King (of The Bad Plus) at Echo Mountain Recording, Jon Stickley Trio's third full-length album Maybe Believe will be independently released on Friday, May 12. The band's new music will also be featured in the next Southern Songs and Stories documentary. Photo by Heather Hambor

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.

Southern Songs and Stories

WNCW program director Joe Kendrick and filmmaker Aaron Morrell of Grae Skye Studio are beginning work on the next installment of Southern Songs and Stories, a documentary series that “explores the music of the South and the artists who make it.” Previous acts featured in the series were Aaron Burdett and The Honeycutters, and next up is Jon Stickley Trio, a high-energy instrumental band based in Asheville. Kendrick will interview the musicians at South Carolina’s Spring Skunk Music Fest in early April, capturing footage of the trio’s performance and highlighting the festival itself. This documentary and future iterations “will have a different look and feel than the previous episodes,” Kendrick writes on the project page, “but will focus on many of the same themes: music as a bridge to family, community, culture and history.” The two aim to raise $1,000 per month through Patreon, a crowdfunding site that facilitates recurring contributions from supporters. Funds will cover production costs associated with forthcoming documentaries.

Aidan’s academics

Local student Aidan MacDonald has raised hundreds of dollars to purchase Microsoft’s Minecraft Education Edition for use in his classroom. In a proposal to his teacher, the fifth grader described the software as “a fun and popular game” that would be an “easy way to teach us children.” He also offered to help lead lessons and provided several suggestions on how to implement the program. “Our son has been diagnosed with Aspergers and does not like to draw attention to himself,” his parents say, noting their surprise. “The fact that our shy boy is wanting to stand in front of a class and help teach that class — and wants to raise the money so others may benefit — really touched us.” The MacDonalds have already surpassed their $200 goal to buy the software. Excess funds will be used to provide the same resource for all other fifth grade classes.

Image from the MacDonalds' campaign page
Image from the MacDonalds’ campaign page

Cheap Golf video game

Combining his love of mini golf and “all things cheap, low-fi, gonzo or absurd,” Pixeljam co-founder Miles Tilmann has created his latest minimalist video game Cheap Golf — a project so stripped down, it took 11 hours to prototype. Tilmann describes it as such: “You’ll fling a little square boop around dozens of mazes stocked with moving walls, chomping deathtraps, bouncy bumpers, teleporters, keys, doors and anything else that can be conceived and implemented without much hassle.” Though his crowdfunding campaign is all-or-nothing, Tilmann says he’ll deliver rewards to any backers above the $5 level regardless of his success. That means prospective donors may get free games from Pixeljam. Nevertheless, he aims to raise $9,000 by Monday, March 27, to reimburse himself and collaborator Tiago Ling for development time.

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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