Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

PROPOGATING SUSTAINABILITY: "My goal is to meet as many as possible of my needs — physical and otherwise — directly from the land," says Mountain Gardens founder Joe Hollis. He shares the many ways he's learned to do that by teaching at Asheville's Daoist Traditions College, hosting workshops at his large botanical gardens, and for the past three years, by posting educational videos online. Still frame from Hollis' 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.

Mountain Gardens’ plant videos

Joe Hollis purchased 4 1/2 acres of wooded land in 1972 and has since transformed it into a botanical garden of useful plants. He explains this “project slash business” called Mountain Gardens as “an experiment in trying to figure out a way to live on Earth that’s both satisfying to me and is not damaging to the earth or stealing things from other human beings — which is sort of a tall order.” Hollis has gained decades of experience balancing aesthetics with utility, gardening in tandem with the forest and learning firsthand about less-documented subjects like wild food. And with the help of volunteer videographer Jennifer Noll, he’s captured much of that knowledge and shared dozens of lessons online. “Basically, what we want to do is pick up the pace,” Hollis says in his crowdfunding video, noting a goal of making 120 videos (mostly plant-related, but also discussing the philosophy, politics and techniques of sustainable living) in addition to weekly updates during the growing season. The duo aim to raise $5,400 by Monday, June 27, to purchase a laptop and macro lens for Noll and to cover the joint loss of income that will result from prioritizing this undertaking.

Joshua Messick’s Acoustic Storm

“There isn’t much music composed specifically for the hammered dulcimer,” says Joshua Messick, a local master of the harp-like instrument. “By creating my own original compositions, I was able to highlight the ethereal nature of the hammered dulcimer, convey the spirit of the Blue Ridge and explore a modern approach influenced by its historical roots.” Messick’s original songs will be featured alongside several covers on his forthcoming instrumental album, Acoustic Storm, which also borrows the sounds of cellist Max Dyer and percussionists River Guerguerian and James Kylen. The album has already been recorded, but Messick aims to further surpass his $4,000 goal by Thursday, June 30, for mixing, mastering and artwork.

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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