Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

"I like to think of slacklining as a sort of Trojan horse for mindfulness education," says Slack-Librium co-founder Jesse Goldman, pictured. "Not every middle schooler wants to sign up for a class about social and emotional growth, but most of them are interested in learning how to slackline. This interest provides the opportunity for us to teach them how to slackline in a way that can also instill fundamental life skills." Still frame from crowdfunding 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.


During their first semester of college, Jesse Goldman and Patrick Green were introduced to slacklining, an activity that challenges individuals to balance on a strip of fabric suspended between two points. “We were both immediately hooked, and we spent the majority of our time in between classes slacklining on the quad,” Goldman recalls. “At the same time, I began to learn about mindfulness and experiential education. … I began to recognize these huge similarities between the exercises I was doing in class and my process of slacklining.” Eventually, Goldman and Green combined the two disciplines into an educational organization called Slack-Librium, which “teaches balance — physically, mentally and emotionally,” Green explains.

With grant funding, the duo launched a pilot class during middle school gym class, and that led to another after-school program. As both brought positive results for participants, the two saw greater potential for their curriculum. Since then, Slack-Librium has traveled to schools, festivals and other events spanning 10 states, and now the co-founders are poised to expand their reach by launching an equipment brand. Not only will this allow students to practice beyond the instructional period, but a portion of proceeds will also help bring slacklining education and gear to underserved youth. Goldman and Green aim to raise $15,000 by Saturday, Sept. 2, to cover initial manufacturing costs, expand school programming, fund educational videos and support additional growth.

Transitions Recovery scholarship fund

Transitions Recovery opened in June as a residential addiction treatment program led by Jarrod Key and Preston Schantz. Both in recovery themselves, the two were “very passionate about helping other people that were battling addiction,” Key explains, and they had been planning the organization’s launch for a year. Unfortunately, several weeks later, Schantz passed away unexpectedly. “Now I am trying on my own to keep this business open, to give people a safe place to live and help guide them through the recovery process,” Key writes on his crowdfunding page, which he’s using to launch a scholarship in his departed friend’s memory. Funds will go to incoming residents who cannot afford to pay for treatment at Transitions, which costs $1,650 for the initial four weeks. “Preston lived his life to help people, and now I want to try and give as freely as he did,” Key says. “This scholarship will keep his memory alive and help someone who is trying to find a new way to live their life.” Key has already far surpassed his $1,000 goal, but continues to raise money toward the scholarship program.

Image from campaign page
Image from campaign page

Primas graphic novel

Based on field research by educators at the Federal University of Paraíba, in Brazil, Primas is an illustrated story that probes the topic of prostitution in poor communities. “The graphic novel explores the question of personal decision versus victim of circumstance,” reads the crowdfunding page of author Alberto Pessoa. “Can sex work be a necessary career choice in an area that offers few other opportunities for women? … With striking illustrations, Primas opens a window to [main character Rosa’s] world of sex and violence, friendship and family.” The book also includes educational material and will be released through Asheville’s Stache Publishing, which aims to raise $1,111 by Thursday, Aug. 31, toward production costs.

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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