Four Awesome, Progressive Crowd-Funded Projects
With governments and households tightening their belts during the four years of economic downturn, greater numbers of aspiring fundraisers have turned to crowd-fundng platforms to make money. On Kickstarter and Indiegogo, people seek to finance everything from serial web videos to immigration fees, all through microdonations—but they also start projects to raise awareness of gay rights, environmental justice, and the school-to-prison pipeline.
In no particular order, here are four awesome activist projects worth crowd-funding.
1. A hands-on sustainability program for urban youth.
In one of Albany's roughest neighborhoods, the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center overflows with non-human life, from rabbits to tilapia to year-round vegetables. Sustainable city-living gurus Scott Kellog and Stacey Pettigrew built the passive greenhouse structure to teach city-dwellers about urban farming and food production. Kellog and Pettigrew hope to spread their guide for city living in a warming world to more Albany residents.
Radix is planning free "Urban Ecoliteracy" workshops for Albany schoolchildren on aquaculture, alternative energy systems, sustainable food production, and waste.
2. An art exhibit about the faith journeys of LGBT clergy.
Photographers Peggy Gillespie and Gigi Kaeser cite this year's United Methodist General Conference decision to continue barring the ordination of openly gay people in their choice to document the lives and stories of LGBT clergy in "We Have Faith: LGBT Clergy Speak Out."
With the endorsement of nearly every big-name LGBT rights organization, they've photographed and interviewed more than 40 imams, rabbis, and ministers (along with a handful of clergy members of other faiths). Portions of the exhibit have been shown in five major cities. Now they're fundraising to send the exhibition to communities that can't afford shipping and set-up costs.
3. A documentary about a gay wedding performed legally in 1975.
"Limited Partnership" chronicles the story of Richard Adams and Tony Sullivan, two men married in Colorado by a sympathetic county clerk in 1975 — long before the culture wars and the polarized political battle over marriage equality. When the couple sought to acquire resident status for the Australian Sullivan, the Immigration and Naturalization Services refused to acknowledge that two "faggots" could have "a bona fide marital relationship."
They fought the decision in court, and they lost. After traveling the world, Adams and Sullivan snuck back into the U.S. and have been living here quietly since 1985 — Sullivan illegally — until this movie, in which they finally tell their story.
4. A media kit to empower educators to fight the school-to-prison pipeline.
The intrusion of the criminal justice system into public schools, particularly low-income schools with majority-black and Latino students, hasn't gone without comment from educators. Now Teachers Unite, an independent teachers' organization based in New York City that works closely with the Dignity in Schools Campaign, is working to mobilize educators on a national scale.
To this end, they're creating a short documentary and a companion guide, both focused on how school districts across the country are fighting back against punitive discipline and implementing restorative justice in their communities. They have begun filming interviews, and hope to raise enough money to expand the scope of the documentary and make a big impact.
Shay O'Reilly is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @shaygabriel.