Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

PERSONAL GROWTH: The crowdfunding page for a prison garden program in Black Mountain enumerates several possible positive outcomes: "Growing a garden of any kind involves goal-setting, planning ahead, daily commitment, physical work and tangible rewards," it reads. "These are life skills that will be acquired by the participants and are transferable to any endeavor." Image from 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.

A garden for incarcerated women

Under Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women’s garden program, incarcerated women have begun to grow their own produce. Not only will harvests be used in the prison’s cafeteria and food banks, but the process will provide “a pathway for inmates to connect with nature and the community; opportunities for inmates to build skills in the field of agriculture; and job training and entrepreneurship education,” according to a crowdfunding page for the initiative. These tools, advocates hope, could eventually help reduce the recidivism rate. By partnering with MountainBizWorks, program leaders also hope to launch an annual plant sale, which would cover gardening costs and make the program financially self-sustaining. To start, though, horticulturist and supervisor Sally Reeske and the gardeners aim to raise $5,000 to buy a large quantity of compost and an irrigation system before transplanting their current greenhouse inventory of about 600 plants. Also on the shopping list are seeds, potting soil, pots, soil amendments and other supplies for the plant sale.

Image from campaign page
Image from campaign page

The Baby Potty

Local entrepreneur Andrea Olson has a rare, useful and environmentally sustainable (if unenviable at times) area of expertise: teaching babies to use the bathroom without diapers. The creator of a line of products in that vein — including Tiny Undies, Tiny Trainers and books “Go Diaper Free” and “Tiny Potty” — her latest release is The Baby Potty, which looks like an inverted and ill-fated top hat. It allows infants and children up to about 12 months to relieve themselves discreetly and in tight quarters — an accompaniment to the diaperless method Olson has shared with thousands of parents thus far. Olson says the contraption is based on a similar product she purchased, but when that was discontinued, her disappointment turned to ingenuity. She’s improved the original design with a cozy top cover, non-slip grip and biodegradable materials, and now Olson aims to raise $7,000 by Friday, June 15, to cover manufacturing, shipping and branding of the first batch of Baby Potties.

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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