Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

“[Hall Fletcher] is a great school, but an unrecognized one,” says the elementary school's principal Gordon Grant, citing the establishment's 72 percent rate for children on free or reduced lunch as the highest in Asheville. “[But] a school for poor children should look as beautiful and attractive as any school for any child anywhere,” Grant says. His team hopes to engage students of all backgrounds by “bringing the classroom outside” with an Outdoor Learning Center. Project renderings courtesy of Hall Fletcher Elementary

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.

Hall Fletcher Elementary’s Outdoor Learning Center

“The Outdoor Learning Center is a lot more than just a pretty park and playground,” says Hall Fletcher Elementary principal Gordon Grant, explaining that the project supports the school’s greater goal to create a “totally welcoming” and engaging learning environment for students of all backgrounds. “One of the most exciting aspects of this playground is the Guastavino dome,” Grant says. This 40-foot design — based on the work of Rafael Guastavino, the architect for the Basilica of St. Lawrence in downtown — will likely be carried out by a Michigan Institute of Technology professor, making the playground double as an architectural destination. Although the school has already offset about one third of the $300,000 project’s estimated cost through monetary and in-kind donations from the community, the Hall Fletcher Parent Teacher Organization aims to raise an additional $40,000 by Sunday, May 31, to fund the Guastavino dome and an art-infused education walk that meanders through the outdoor space.

Roots + Wings Creative Campus

“My dream has always been to build a school where students of all ages can grow creatively over time and experience the power of art and design to promote positive and significant changes within themselves and their communities,” says Roots + Wings founding director Ginger Huebner, whose youth programming quickly outgrew its shared space at the Cathedral of All Souls. The school’s to-be-completed campus in the Oakley neighborhood will include a 9,000 square-foot renovated building and outdoor playground and learning areas, both of which will enable Roots + Wings to offer a wider scope of academic programming for all ages in addition to more collaborations with the community. “It is going to be a truly unique offering for our city of Asheville and Western North Carolina,” Huebel says, listing music, recording and film programs, adult art retreats, field trips with children from multiple schools and weekend studio time among the school’s proposed offerings. Huebner aims to raise $30,000 by Tuesday, June 2, to construct the outdoor learning area and purchase a kiln, printmaking press and design lab classroom furniture.

The Circus Mutts’ new tour vehicle

From loyally rusting vans to massive tour buses sporting space-age amenities, touring musicians are in serious, live-in relationships with their vehicles. And after 219 shows and 40,853 miles in 2014 alone, local band The Circus Mutts is about to give its wheeled significant other the boot. “We need a new vehicle that better suits our needs as a band, and we need your help raising the resources to get a new Mutt Bus,” the musicians write on their crowdfunding campaign page, calling the truck the band’s headquarters, mothership and home on the road. “With a $10,000 down payment, we can afford the upgrade to a vehicle that will let us continue to grow as a band and to bring our foot-stompin’ ‘Muttgrass’ music to an even wider range of audiences across the country.” The Circus Mutts aim to raise $10,000 by Monday, June 8, for the next vehicle’s down payment.

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.


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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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