Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Local cricket nibbler Alyssa DeRonne sees incorporating bugs into food as a tasty contribution to sustainable food sourcing. “At first, I thought it was a little weird. The only thing that eats crickets in my world is my pet frog,” said L.O.T.U.S. Farm and Garden co-owner Brooke Sheffield after sampling DeRonne's cricket snacks at a local farmers market. “[But] I had a bite, and they're wonderful. It changed my mind the first time around.” Stock photo

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.

LaViewEye cricket foods’ expansion

“Our hope is to normalize eating bugs,” says Alyssa DeRonne, a local food entrepreneur on a mission to educate consumers on the many benefits of eating crickets. The winged critters, she says, are readily digestible and pack ample protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids into just a few calories. Perhaps most importantly, the bugs are an extremely eco-friendly farming option. One pound of crickets, for example, requires one gallon of water compared to the 2,000 gallons required to obtain a pound of beef, according to this sustainability advocate. Accordingly, DeRonne hopes to expand her business selling cricket flour and other bug-infused, bite-sized edibles beyond Asheville’s farmers markets. “By eating crickets, you can help create a cleaner, safer, more sustainable planet” she says. “We need to get them into stores and into mouths!” DeRonne aims to raise $40,000 by June 22 to become a certified B Corp and build “a legit kitchen” with a commercial dehydrator, flour mill, packaging equipment and other supplies to expand her market business.

Girls Rock Asheville music camp

Last year, Girls Rock Asheville launched its first camp to empower girls and trans youth through music education. Housed in The Mothlight, the volunteer-run nonprofit ushers each young participant through a diverse week-long curriculum regardless of ability to pay. Not only do students learn to write and play original music, but they also attend workshops on self-defense, media literacy and sound gear 101. The second camp runs from Monday to Saturday, June 22-27, and culminates with a musical showcase on the last day. Organization president Erin Kinard aims to raise $5,000 by Saturday, June 20, to pay for insurance, space at The Mothlight, musical gear, a projector, T-shirts and other camp materials.

Pavel Wlosok’s world-class jazz album Alternate Reality

“When I first started thinking about the concept of the Alternate Reality album, I knew I wanted to invite world-class musicians who can not only contribute to this project with their impeccable musicianship, but also are capable of inspiring my own performance while in the studio,” explains Pavel Wlosok, pianist and Western Carolina University jazz educator. To that end, Wlosok’s latest project employs the talents of Grammy Award-winning tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin along with two local bandmates — acoustic bassist Mike Holstein and drummer Marian Sevcik — from his Pavel Wlosok trio. Together, the masterful quartet recorded an hour of improvised jazz music, live (not overdubbed) in a professional studio. “This album has an unmistakable organic sound, which is both acoustic and dynamic in its nature as well as exciting to listen to,” he says. Wlosok aims to raise $1,500 by Sunday, June 21, to record and release the album.

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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