Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

BUZZING AROUND: Local mural artist Matt Willey painted his first bee mural in LaBelle, Fla., but now he hopes to paint 50,000 bees across multiple cities to raise awareness of the pollinators' struggle. "Painting a mural won’t save the bees, but I believe connecting people and rallying enthusiasm around this problem can," he says, noting that he's still seeking an Asheville canvas. Still frame from Willey's campaign video

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.

The Good of the Hive

“The Good of the Hive is about three things: bees, art and connection,” says project creator Matt Willey in his campaign video. To raise awareness about the struggle of honeybees, the mural artist will travel the country, eventually painting a total of 50,000 bees — the number in a thriving hive, he says — in 20 murals over an estimated span of four to five years. “Bees are in every community in the world, so everywhere is where I want to paint them,” Willey says. “I am willing to paint every single bee myself, if I have to, but I am hoping to find some help along the path. As I paint the 50,000th bee, my dream is that rather than raising awareness, we will be celebrating the fact that the bees are no longer in danger.” Willey aims to raise $50,000 by Tuesday, Dec. 1, to pay for film production and soclial media support and to fund the first few murals, which he estimates will take 4-6 weeks each.

Dreamline instructional kayaking film

In response to the popularity of renowned local kayaker and cinematographer Steve Fisher’s instructional articles in Kayak Session, the magazine and sportsman have teamed up to create a multi-platform lesson. The crash course in whitewater mastery will include an action-packed film called Dreamline, a custom 60-page magazine that mirrors the video’s curriculum and, eventually, an interactive Web presence. Fisher, who moved to the nature-loving community of Bent Creek last year, will self-produce the motion picture through his film company Flowstate Narratives. Accompanying him on camera will be “a dream-team of instructors,” including Ashevillean Pat Keller, Eric and Dane Jackson (of Jackson Kayaks) and Ben Marr. They’ll ride the waters of Zambia and Western North Carolina among other locales. “We believe that this productive collaboration will not only make for a good product, but actually advance the technical base of our sport,” Fisher writes on his campaign page. “The film will roll out like a story, so you’ll get to know the characters as they each deliver their unique style and brand of instruction.” The team of athletes, ninjas and mongrels (as Fisher’s campaign refers to them) has already exceeded its $55,000 goal, but extra funds may be used to hire female instructors, capture aerial footage, optimize the team’s web presence, give the crew a raise or simply add “a bit of breathing room in our budget for airport mimosas.”

Letters to Abigail’s sophomore album

“So, we are doing it again! Album number two is in progress,” reads the campaign page for country folk band Letters to Abigail. Composed of Kelli Redmond and guitarist James Harrell — both of whom contribute vocals — the acoustic duo plans to record their latest tunes at Echo Mountain. “This new batch of songs is truly heartfelt, and we will nearly burst if we don’t hurry up and get them recorded and into the hands and cars of the folks who want to hear them,” they write. The musicians aim to raise $15,000 by Tuesday, Dec. 1, to cover studio time, mastering, guest musicians, distribution expenses, design work and crowdfunding fees.

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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