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Posts Tagged ‘kickstarter’

Here’s a green-transportation update from the radio show Living on Earth.

“ELF stands for Electric, Light and Fun, And this particular Elf is an invention that launched with a Kickstarter in 2013. As Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer reported, it’s a human- and solar-powered, covered tricycle that aims to create a commuting revolution, and might just help combat climate change. Now two years on from the Elf’s Kickstarter campaign, its designer and developer, Rob Cotter, tells Living on Earth’s Helen Palmer how successful the invention has proved. …

“COTTER: Many years ago I was working for Porsche and BMW more on the race-car side of things — and I was living in Southern Calif. — and they were building the Gossamer Condor and Gossamer Albatross — the pedal-powered aircraft — not too far from me, so I kind of linked up with those folks. … I became vice president of land for human-powered vehicles, I built a 62 mph tricycle about 30 years ago — and once I realized you could go highway speeds at one horsepower — I realized how inefficient everything is that we do. …

“PALMER: [Elf] uses no gas at all: just human-power, sun-power and a battery pack with a 30-mile range. It’s not built for highways though — only for local roads, and bike trails, as federal regs say a bicycle can’t go faster than 20 miles an hour. Cotter says if enough people who drive about 30 miles a day climbed out of their cars and into an Elf, the effect on greenhouse gas emissions could be startling. …

“COTTER: Each one of these on the road takes about 28 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere per year — so 100 of these on the road are equivalent to a 4-megawatt wind turbine at about 20% of cost. … The base price is $4,000 [and] we have over 400 orders or reservations currently, just from our website.

“PALMER: And that was before the Kickstarter campaign got underway — they reached their $100,000 funding goal in 12 days, and 40 people have actually paid for the vehicles. …

“COTTER: We actually worked with an organization in San Jose that trains homeless people to become bicycle mechanics, so we went there as kind of a test pilot to see who could build this and how, and in a week’s time we taught them how actually to build ELFs, and maintain them, and service them …

“COTTER: People are using them all winter long in places like Canada. They’re pulling trailers, 500, 600-pound trailers around with snow-blowing equipment and yard equipment on there. They turn them into food trucks. There’s a gentleman in Pasadena that has a gelato freezer on the back … One gentleman rode from Ontario, Canada, to Key West, Florida, on his Elf all on secondary roads and bike paths. But the thing that amazes me most I think is people with disabilities that are using the Elf to increase their mobility. So, this one woman, she broke both her legs in 20 places and doctors said she would never walk again without assistance. And she purchased an Elf, she lowers herself in it, and takes off on electric power, and when she can she goes ahead and just rotates the pedals. And six months later, she’s riding 22 miles a day and able to walk without a cane.”

More here.

Photo: Joanna Rifkin
Inventor Rob Cotter shows reporter Helen Palmer the ELF.

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ICYMI (that’s twitter-speak for “in case you missed it”), a young man who decided to go on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise money to buy ingredients for one small potato salad got more than $55,000.

According to the Associated Press, “A man who jokingly sought $10 from a crowdfunding website to pay for his first attempt at making potato salad and ended up raising $55,000 is making good on his promise to throw a huge party.

“Zack Brown is planning PotatoStock 2014, an all-ages, charity-minded party Saturday in downtown Columbus featuring bands, food trucks, beer vendors, potato-sack races, and definitely potato salad.

“His effort on Kickstarter in early July to buy potato salad ingredients took on a life of its own and attracted worldwide attention as the amount grew.

“The 31-year-old eventually raised $55,492. The Idaho Potato Commission and corporate sponsors have donated supplies for Brown and volunteers to whip up 300 pounds of potato salad for the event.

“The Columbus Dispatch reported that Brown partnered with the Columbus Foundation to start an endowment to aid area charities that fight hunger and homelessness. The account, started with $20,000 in postcampaign corporate donations, will grow after proceeds from PotatoStock are added.” More here.

By golly, I do love quirky.

Photo: Chris Russell/The Columbus Dispatch via AP
Zack Brown’s PotatoStock 2014, an all-ages, charity-minded party, is set for Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

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Around this time last year, I alerted you (here) to a treasure hunt for hand-blown glass floats. I never ran into anyone who found one, but they must have done, as the tourism council is back at it again this year.

Glassblower Eben Horton has once more hidden floats off the beaten path, including a special float with gold leaf.

The tourism council explains it all for you.

WHAT: 400 Glass Floats (glass orbs about the size of a grapefruit) will be hidden on Block Island. Floats will be dated, numbered and stamped with the shape of Block Island. All floats are clear glass except for 13 (because it is 2013), which are special colored orbs. One super special float is made entirely out of gold leaf.

WHERE: Floats will be hidden on the beaches and on the Greenway Trails. They will be above the high tide mark but NEVER in the dunes or up the side of the bluffs. They will be within one foot of either side of any Greenway trail they are placed on.More.

3/5/14 Update: Suzanne e-mailed me about a Kickstarter campaign for the glass float project. Check it out here.

Photo of glassblower Eben Horton: The Tourism Council

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I have written a few times about the crowdfunding site Kickstarter (for example, in this post about a great documentary I saw).

I even participated in one campaign because Liz told me about a Pomona College professor who wanted to raise a small amount to publish a book on the artist Ben Shahn.

Sometimes there is a little sweetener (I was offered Ben Shahn note cards). Sometimes donors just want to see the thing get off the ground. If you don’t meet your goal in the allotted time, no one pays.

My impression is that Kickstarter is most suited to products that are ready to roll. Lisa Kocian wrote in the Boston Globe recently about a product I would definitely like to buy.

 “U-Turn Audio, founded by three Lexington High grads, is a few steps closer to bringing its affordable, sound-obsessed vinyl turntable to the mass market.

“In March, the trio won a $2,500 Prototype Fund grant from Northeastern University’s Center for Research Innovation. Seven or eight prototypes later, the three friends are trying to raise the $60,000 needed to start manufacturing their Orbit turntable, which will retail for about $150, according to Bob Hertig, one of the company’s cofounders.” More.

Tonight, with 28 hours left in U-Turn’s Kickstarter campaign, the team has raised more than 300% of their goal. (Note that different levels of funding are associated with different rewards, here.)

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I’m fascinated by the many ways the Internet has enabled broader support for worthy causes. I’ve blogged about Kickstarter, for example, “a funding platform for creative projects.” Through Kickstarter, friends and other well-wishers can help fund a documentary, an art installation, or a book publication within a designated time frame. Magic can happen, often with only small donations that add up.

Today OFH_John tweeted about something similar for schools, Donors Choose. Donors Choose calls itself “an online charity connecting you to classrooms in need.” You can search for projects in your local area, projects that have special meaning to you, and projects that might let your company offer special expertise.

John’s company has optical expertise and jumped on a need at a District of Columbia school, where an applied science project on light called for optical gear. Read about that here.

If you are seeking to help impoverished schools in particular, you may look for the “high poverty” rating at Donors Choose. School needs of all sorts are listed here.

Photograph: DonorsChoose.org

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Gene Sharp (founder of the Albert Einstein Institution and the go-to guy on nonviolent revolution) is proof that one and one and 50 make a million. Sharp is one man, but his writings have had a powerful influence on many of the players in the 2011 Arab Spring and democracy movements elsewhere.

Today I went with Jane’s family to see a movie about Sharp at the Boston Film Festival. (Jane’s cousin, Ruaridh Arrow, directed it.) It’s a remarkable film. There were interviews with organizers of nonviolent change in Serbia, Ukraine, Egypt, Syria, and beyond. The documentary was interspersed with news footage and video from recent uprisings around the world. A key message is that change takes strategic planning (you can’t wing it) and is a kind of armed resistance, only people are armed with ideas for undermining the pillars that support an oppressive regime. In addition to conducting research on the subject of nonviolence, Sharp has offered a list of 198 techniques that effect change.

After a standing ovation, a frail Gene Sharp, 83, his assistant, Jamila Raqib, and nonviolent-change trainer Col. Robert Helvey, retired, came up on the stage with the director and took audience questions. Raqib was asked about the funding for the Albert Einstein Institution, which operates out of a small space in East Boston. She said that likely funders back off because the ideas do relate to overthrowing a government. The institution is struggling.

I wish you could have been there to hear a young woman stand up and say that she is Egyptian and took  part in the January uprising. She said the overthrow of the government was easy but the rebuilding is hard. She wanted to know if any studies had been done comparing the transitions to democracy of other uprisings. When Sharp said that studies had yet to be done, I couldn’t help thinking what a good use of new funding such research might be. The film itself was funded by large and small donations from around the world through Kickstarter, which I blogged about here. Perhaps it can kickstart nonviolent change elsewhere.

Update: Gene Sharp died at his home in East Boston on January 28, 2018. He was 90.

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A week or so ago, I wrote about CSA, community-supported arts, a concept that borrows from the community-supported agriculture movement. In case you missed it, here’s the post.

Another creative idea for supporting the arts is crowd funding. I learned about it from the Backstage blog by way of ArtsJournal.com.

” ‘I saw people believing in themselves enough to try and make money for their projects,’ said Monica Mirabile, a co-founder of the Copycat Theatre. Earlier this year, Mirabile was applying for grants for her Baltimore-based theater troupe when a friend suggested she look into Kickstarter, a ‘crowd-funding’ website that promotes artistic projects through social media and allows donors to
support fundraising campaigns with any amount of money they desire. Crowd-funding sites have grown in popularity over the last few years and continue to attract artists and benefactors. …

” ‘This is not the newest idea on the block. It’s very traditional. But we’ve become very used to the idea of someone in a boardroom giving us a check and we hand them a piece of art and cross our fingers. The longer history of art is actually one of patronage that involves the artist’s audience. …

” Users of crowd funding must summarize their projects and goals for potential donors, a process that can help artists sharpen the skills needed to pitch or develop those projects in the future. ‘I learned how to better articulate why I’m doing the project and my artwork and what we’re trying to gain,’ said Mirabile. ‘I made friends because, by promoting, I got to talk to different
people in my community and made connections.’ ”

Read more here. And if you try an approach like Kickstarter, would you let me know how it worked for you? Leave a comment.

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