Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

MOBILE KINDNESS: Zen Sutherland will always have an audience for his free art. He's amassed an underground following by placing uniquely decorated oval magnets onto any surface he can find around Asheville. Photo from Sutherland's campaign page

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.

Random Oval Magnet Project

The world needs more random acts of kindness, according to local artist Zen Sutherland — and more magnets. For nearly a year, Sutherland has been creating mini magnetic art pieces, which he distributes in a pleasantly unconventional fashion. “Each one is a little art oval created with love and placed around town on vehicles and anything they’ll stick to, for people to find and share if they want,” he writes on his crowdfunding page. “I do not sell them, and I encourage people to swap them or take them for their own.” It’s easy to spot the rounded crafts around the streets of Asheville once you know to look. In fact, Sutherland’s creations have amassed their own fan following, with supporters sending in photos of his work wherever it’s spotted. “It’s kind of a secret community,” he explains. “Or maybe it’s not so secret a group, as some parents have said that their kids watch for them on the backs of cars and call them out when they see one.” Since he’s already spent a considerable amount of his own money producing roughly 500 of the free mood-boosters, Sutherland aims to raise $1,200 by Aug. 25, to increase his production level to 1,000 pieces, which will allow him to take advantage of bulk prices for his supplies.

Photo of Sutherland from the artist's campaign page
Photo of Sutherland from the artist’s campaign page

American Yogi film

In the wake of the spiritual enlightenment of countless hippies during the ’60s, director Steven Newmark took a life-changing trip to India. His forthcoming movie American Yogi depicts the filmmaker’s intense fascination with Indian saint Maharaj-Ji and the nagging sense of emptiness he was driven to eliminate following the leader’s death and his own departure from the spiritual sphere. Newmark says he made the film to share his surreal journey while inspiring others to explore their own higher purpose, and he aims to raise $20,000 by Aug. 29, to pay for publicity, crowdfunding fees, legal fees and participation in film festivals.

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

  1. zen sutherland

    Thank you so much for helping promote this project! I didn’t make the $1200, but over $900 was donated and i’ve already gotten a shipment of 1000 blank oval magnets!!

    • Kat McReynolds

      That’s awesome, Zen! I can’t wait to see them cropping up all over town!

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