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Kickstarters, Crowdfunding, Help a guy through the maze/maize :)  RSS feed

 
Jeff McLeod
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Location: New Hampshire
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Good morning everyone. I thought this was probably the best place to pose the question. Is this type of financing really best for the type of place I'm looking to build and how large a proposal do I need to write? I guess the best place to start is at the beginning. My daughter is going to be turning 21 next year. And, like all special needs adults in the great state of New Hampshire is having a struggle to find a follow on from high school education. There simply isn't very much in the way of college courses or vocational training for special needs adults (and for that matter children) and training in anything related to agriculture or crafts is essentially non-existent. As one individual at the University of Vermont told us .... "The beginning farmer program is aimed at a post-graduate level".

So what to do?

Well my basic philosophy in life has always been ... when given lemons make a nice batch of lemonade. Only in this instance I want to make some to share.

With that in mind our original plan to sell up and move to a small homestead is now going to be shelved or at the very least put on the back burner while we investigate this option. Our new plan is to buy a larger property of perhaps 150+ acres. This would give us plenty of space to create an intentional community venture for special needs adults. This would be both a residential and day facility. Our aim would be to provide life skills as well as careers and career training all set in an agrarian based environment.

Some of the activities we are looking at (in no particular order) are: Market gardening, livestock, coppicing and copice crafts, pottery, baking etc.

Now of course all of this costs money. And short of getting a hit on the powerball, the sale of my house, cashing in my IRA and hoping that the company I work for will include me in the next round of layoffs isn't quite going to finance this.

So I'm open to creative ideas for funding. I've noticed quite a few projects on the forum have references to kickstarting and crowd funding - is this the best way to go for a project to help kids and young adults? Or are kickstarters and crowdfunders more aimed at books, films, video games etc? And for the folks that have used these methods successfully - how big a proposal do you need to write?

The other question would be - if we do manage to pull this one out of the bag. How does one go about having folks come in to give lectures/lessons? And would anyone actually turn up to teach permaculture or animal husbandry etc to a group of special needs adults?


Peace

Jeff
 
allen lumley
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Jeff Mcleod ; W.O.W. I try and follow your mental attitude every day, and the only advice I have is 'one day at a time !' I would spend a lot of time looking to see what is already
out there, There is a very god site to help people locate intentional communities, just google those two words and look in nearby states also ! You will need to understand a very
subtle brand of politics and be aware of the head games, not that your family does not deal with some form of it every day, just a new and different set that will change with every
change of venue !

Somehow this message is not as upbeat as It started out to be ! I am merely posting, visit several I.C.s narrow it down to ones you like, and visit as often as you can ! Big AL !
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Jeff:

First a big THANK YOU for not only making the problem the solution but for making it the solution for a larger community. You are an inspiration!

I know whereof you speak with the whole "aging out of the system" - it's an incredibly frustrating situation to find yourself and your family in.

Some thoughts:
--have you done a PDC? If so, you could set up your site as a PRI (Permaculture Research Institute) sponsored land trust/non-profit and that would enable you to earn funding from a variety of sources.
--you might actually look to international AID projects as these often get set up around helping folks with special needs or disabilities. I know geoff lawton created a plan for permaculture AID development for refugees and IDP (internally displaced peoples) that gives a business plan for a demonstration site and education center that has now been used world wide. I can see if he can send a copy along. I will actually be part of his internship at his "Greening the Desert" site in Jordan next Oct. As a person with disabilities myself (partially blind/severe autoimmune condition), one of my jobs will be to document best practices for including all members of the local community and identifying where we can do better for those with special needs. One of my personal dreams is to document how permaculture can apply to all people and situations - with a focus on those of us with certain physical or mental limitations.
--I actually used to run a small non-profit that was geared towards helping other non-profits get permaculture projects in the ground to help them out in some way. One of the non-profits we worked with was the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. We designed and installed a permaculture training landscape for their GardenWorks program (funded through a grant from Humana). The goal of the program was to train autism spectrum adults, who'd aged out of the system, to work in the landscaping field with a special emphasis on sustainable landscapes. If you are interested I can see if I can put you in touch with the person in charge of that program as well.

I think you've just created a HUGE opportunity for yourself and others. Kickstarter, Gofundme, We The Trees (specifically for permaculture projects) would all be good places to start funding. I haven't done one of these myself but will have several opportunities in the new year as I do some work exchange for other non-profits.

I wouldn't worry too much about attracting people to teach - I think with your attitude and positivism, that people will be drawn to you. You can also set yourself up to be a training site for new teachers.

Stay in touch - this is very much the type of project that speaks to me as it will change the way people value each other in our society. Please let me know if I can help you out in any way.

Jen in Phoenix.
 
Jeff McLeod
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Location: New Hampshire
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Thanks Big Al Yes - politics seems to be the order of the day most days. We've been looking at IC's over the last few years. This is one of the reasons we're looking at tacking to a different course at this point. We also took a look at a few residential and day courses. The kicker for us was that the bulk of them are aimed at the more affluent (to say the least). One of the local places want $75k per year - with a waiting list.

BTW I don't mind down beat responses as well. It helps keep things real.
 
Jeff McLeod
Posts: 95
Location: New Hampshire
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Thanks for the reply Jen. I've not done a PDC actually hadn't even thought of doing one but that sounds like a great idea. As a jaded router jockey the idea of learning something new myself isn't such a bad idea. I'd originally just planned on being the odd job/skivvy and help out folks with far more talent.

Any input from any sources would be more than gratefully accepted. We've managed to get an appointment with a program director at one of the area agencies - so hope that we can get some traction there as well.

We also thought that it would be beneficial to register as a non-profit. The one thing we are of course still trying to figure out is how to add some sort of provision for our daughter when we pop our clogs. I'd definitely be interested in any business plans or examples where other folks have done similar projects.

One thing we have been looking at (which kind of ties into the intentional community idea) - is to build a series of homes on site to provide a sheltered independent living environment. Of course that's getting ahead of ourselves. The biggest challenge would seem to be the swath of red tape to cut through to make these things a reality. But then and again I'm always up for a challenge

Thanks

Jeff
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Jeff:

Here's the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) Memorandum of Understanding about becoming a PRI site. Even if you don't use this exact process, it may provide you with guidelines for your project and funding.

http://www.permaculturenews.org/files/pri_australia/PRI_Master_Plan_MOU.pdf
 
Jen Shrock
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Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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I wanted to bump this topic to keep an eye on it for the future.

Jeff - It is truely inspiring what you are setting out to accomplish. I think that special needs adults can offer so much to the permaculture community. I agree with Jen that I think people will be drawn to your project. Thank you for sharing and please keep adding updates.

Jen in Phoenix - Like you Jen, I have health concerns (fibromyalgia) that are guiding what I am doing on my own site and also my thoughts as to what I would like to put more focus and solutions on. (BTW - I think we chatted on the online Geoff Lawton PDC.) I think there is a definite need for permaculture solutions for people with disabilities, health concerns, mobility issues, etc.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Jen I remember you! Yes - that was a really interesting thread. I will be going to Jordan to the Greening the Desert site for the internship next year in Oct. At least one other person from our class (from Oz) will be joining me. One of the things I want to do while there is understand the process of reaching out to the greater community and being inclusive of all people. You wouldn't be interested in joining us there? I emailed with Geoff and he knows my limitations and is fine with me being on the project site.
 
Jen Shrock
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Get me the details. It sounds like an amazing opportunity. Funding might be my only concern. Get me the info and you never know! Agree completely with the community involvement thing.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Jen - the link is here: http://www.permaculturenews.org/coursedetail.php?page_id=195&scheduleid=534&classname=The Dead Sea Valley Permaculture Project (aka Greening the Desert - the Sequel) Internship, Jordan

Funding is an issue for me too as I am on disability (150% of the poverty level - not fun). However, I will be teaching my first PDC in Jan to raise funds and will be doing a kickstarter near summer. I'm going to try to get some support from the local paper or other media outlet too because here in Phoenix we live in a pretty close analogous climate to the Jordan site. I have placed my deposit ($300 AU - about $285 US at the moment) so I'm in like Flynn! I am now down to compromised vision in one eye and no vision in the other. Dang it all I want to SEE that project before I lose more vision! It drives me to get there somehow. If you do sign up - please let them know I sent you in the notes section. Also, Geoff turned me on to Lesley Byrne who helps him extensively. She started a school garden at a girls school near the project site and she is also seeking help. Both projects are at the stage where they are spreading into the surrounding community.

Here's Lesley's award winning school garden project: http://www.kidsaresweet.org/jordan.html
Here's the latest on the Greening the Desert - The Sequel site: http://permaculturenews.org/2013/11/19/rough-ready-real-november-2013-update-dead-sea-valley-permaculture-project-aka-greening-desert-sequel-site/

I will probably be doing some pre-work with Lesley to get funding for tools for both projects - apparently they cannot find good wheelbarrows anywhere and Geoff has had to bring one from AU. I have written successful grants and will be looking for some to get tools to those sites. If you have any Mad Skill to contribute to the effort - let me know! I think it would be phenomenal to have a large representation of online PDC folks in attendance. We could do some fabulous things there! Definitely think about it - we can always brainstorm ways of funding. Creativity rules the day!

Best!
Jen
 
allen lumley
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Jen, Jeff, Jen : Please know, that as one more ex -soldier with a T.B.I., I Now understand so much more of your world, tho I will not be able to join you, I will be following along,
thanks for the link to the master plan I know of other people this can have a positive effect on, I will be following you posted progress ! Big Al !
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Hey Big Al:

First of all - BIG HUGS. I don't know what it's like to have TBI but I am filled with admiration for you and your contributions to this community. I only wish you COULD come to Jordan as one of the main projects they'll be working on next Oct is the use of rocket stoves. This is from the description of the internship:

There will be lessons in creating minimum-fuel rocket stove heaters and cookers, rocket stove heaters for hot water and rocket stove kitchen cookers plus food solar dryers created during the project plus much more.


You would be such a boon to those activities!

I want to just express my gratitude for all the good people out there practicing permaculture while dealing with limitations both physical and mental. We are showing that this is a system that CAN work for all. We are living proof.

 
Jeff McLeod
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Location: New Hampshire
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Thought I'd post a quick update since today could be one of the big days. I've spent most of the waking hours when I haven't been working putting some estimates and a few proposals together. So hopefully today could see some traction or at least some additional suggestions.

- Found out that I can use my IRA to fund a business without incurring any penalties (seems to be one of those loopholes). Now to find out if I can do the same if I use it to fund or partially fund a non-profit.
- May have found a buyer for my old Land Rover. I'll be sad to see it go but hopefully it's going to a good home. Money will be useful for a walk behind tractor of some kind. (We still have plenty of Gravely's up this neck of the woods).
- Will be putting my bike up for sale in the New Year - once I have figured all this out.

Another property to see this weekend. Unfortunately properties in my budget and the right size are few and far between. Having said that I have a few folks on the lookout for cheap leased land as well so maybe I can get this thing kicked off.

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Jeff - best of luck and keep us posted!
 
Jessica Gorton
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Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Jeff, good luck! It seems like a great idea and a needed one, as well as a wonderful legacy to leave your daughter someday. It also seems like you've got your work cut out for you, so my advice is to take it one day at a time and to explore all your funding options.

Maybe look into grants? Get in touch with other groups doing work with similar populations, both locally and nationally - you could find you have support and maybe even partners who already have the kinds of knowledge and connections you'll need to go forward. And to find a suitable property, you could look to folks who have been stewarding a property, but are getting older, and who would like to see their land live on as such a place of community and learning. Maine Farmland Trust (http://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/), for example, has the Maine FarmLink Program (http://www.mainefarmlink.org/) that pairs new farmers and old farmers in leasing or buying arrangements that benefit both parties (and hey, you're close to us, and I for one want more of this kind of thing in Maine!).

As for crowdfunding, I think it can be a good option but also a bit of a crap shoot. With kickstarter, you have to make your whole goal to collect any of it, and to gain real traction there (unless you already have a network of friends and acquaintances with money to spend) you need to catch the eye of the folks who run the site and curate it. You have a great idea, but you might need to have a catchy video that's evocative and appeals to a certain taste. Take a look at the site and the campaigns that make it to the front page to get ideas of the zeitgeist there. Other crowdfunding sites let you keep the money even if you don't make your goal, but they don't draw the same traffic (thus potential donations) that kickstarter does.

I would definitely set this up as a non-profit if you can - it will open up a universe of funding for you, and yours is the kind of project that non-profit status was made for.
 
Jeff McLeod
Posts: 95
Location: New Hampshire
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Thanks for the encouragement everyone. It means a lot. Well we had our meeting last Friday with one of the area agencies. It's taken a while to digest what happened. But the basic outcome was in some ways what was expected. Nothing in the way of funding. I did however get a few contacts and will be exploring those over the ongoing months. And skiing season is upon us - I volunteer with Special Olympics so will hopefully be picking up some contacts through this as well.

 
Cindy Mathieu
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I want to reinforce what Jessica said. Kickstarter tends to like high-tech, high "cool" factor projects the most. They arbitrarily turn down projects; the submitters can't find out why the project was rejected. So, you could spend all the time to get your project ready and then they would turn it down.
 
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