If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a website where anyone with an idea can set up a page and solicit donations for their project. It’s a new way, says Kickstarter, to “fund and follow creativity.”
Kickstarter features an all-or-nothing funding model: projects must be fully funded before any money exchanges hands, which helps minimize the risk to the donors. This model also helps the project’s creator test his idea in the marketplace without risk: if he doesn’t get fully funded, he doesn’t have to spend the money or effort to follow through, which frees him to refine his idea or try something new.
Scrolling through the pages of Kickstarter, you will see an incredible variety of ideas – some whose creativity might resonate with you, and some that might not. Here are three projects that are fun, creative and help build community, and we’d love to see something like them here in New Jersey:
A group of resourceful Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) students called RISD 2nd Life collects a variety of leftover materials from departments around the school as well as from local businesses, rescuing unused art supplies that would have been thrown away. RISD 2nd Life then redistributes the supplies for free not just to RISD students, but also to Brown University students and the Greater Providence community. Their Kickstarter project asks for maneuverable cargo trikes (onya cycles), to help them collect and haul the materials.
We appreciate that RISD 2nd Life is rescuing usable supplies and keeping them out of landfills. We also applaud that the materials are free to the whole community. We can imagine this happening at any New Jersey university campus, but better yet, how about in any New Jersey town?
Aaron wants to bring a summer night market to Brooklyn, much like the open-air markets he saw in his travels throughout Asia. He envisions Friday and Saturday night markets from May to September featuring local vendors of arts and crafts, local foods and beer and wine from local brewers and vineyards. The market also includes performance space as well as a venue for local non-profits and organizations to engage with their community.
Really, what town wouldn’t benefit from a summer night market that brings people together and showcases local artisans, food, performers and non-profits? Wouldn’t you like to have them all across New Jersey – so that you could choose from your own town’s market one weekend, and perhaps a neighboring town market the next weekend?
The Parts & Crafts Collective of Somerville, MA has a creative take on the CSA (community supported agriculture), Instead of buying a share of a farm and collecting a box of produce every week, they have developed the CSE (community supported education), where you receive a kit of stuff – craft, technology and engineering parts and supplies. Each box includes instructions, materials, and ideas and links to further research. What might show up in a box? Materials for building your own light saber, for example, or instructions to make your own juggling balls, so that you can learn how to juggle.
The Parts & Crafts Collective believes that building, playing and experimenting are the best ways to learn and the best ways to live. “If you have an active body and a curious mind than you can go into any situation, look at any object, with the mindset of ‘What can I do with this? How can I make this better, more fun, more just, wackier, more like how I think it should be?'”
Imagine kids and adults working side by side on these kits – learning and experimenting together, fostering a love for art and science and collaboration – in community centers around the state. It’s no wonder that this project already met its funding goal with time to spare.
If you like any of these projects – or any other project on Kickstarter – don’t hesitate to pledge some money and help them meet their goal.