Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Illustration courtesy of Joshua Warren

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 WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.


Steve Shell, whose background lies in education and mental health, finds spoken word poetry to be both a creative outlet and a truly healing art. But the award-winning orator has struggled to put his thoughts on paper in recent years – not because of writer’s block, but because he has problems when it comes to quality printing. According to Shell’s Kickstarter page, his last compilation of poems “did look like something he made at Kinko’s because it was something he made at Kinko’s.” Shell aims to raise a stretch goal of $800 by Sept. 10, to cover a high quality printing order and to create an audio accompaniment to his poem collection.


Joshua Warren is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Chinese medicine, but during his spare time, he passionately pursues the art of illustration. ZaPow!, a local gallery specializing in illustration and pop culture art, recently honored Warren by inviting the student to showcase his work within their shared space on Battery Park Avenue. Warren aims to raise $1,000 by Aug. 30, to print and frame his artwork and cover ZaPow!’s membership fees.

Joshua Warren Illustration


Although Kickstarter campaigns have funded projects as trivial as making potato salad, Duncan Belew hopes that the platform will help him answer a much tougher question than how much salt his spuds require. “How do you do what you love and get paid for it?” asks the budding meteorologist in his campaign video. Belew has created several prototypes for living weather maps that represent snapshots of wind patterns on a given day, and his page was named “project of the day” by Kickstarter on Aug. 13.  As part of his overarching goal to link passions to payroll, Belew has also mapped out a 10-week, 30-city tour of the U.S. to interview scientific leaders about their career paths. All funds raised by Aug. 25, that are in excess of Belew’s original $825 goal (which covered the prototypes) will offset costs associated with the young man’s interstate pilgrimage.

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.

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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