One of the best things about rural living is our close proximity to the source of local foods and the adventure of being part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. Kim and I have been part of the Grant Farms CSA for several years now, and every Friday we love opening the big green box to discover the week’s bountiful harvest.

woman holding vegetables and unpacking them from bin
Each vegetable we unpack sparks creative thoughts of recipes and processes for turning Mother Nature’s delights into food for ourselves, our families and friends. But it hasn’t always been this way. My first introduction to a Kohlrabi was frightening — I had no idea what this purple spaceship-like bulb was — let alone how to prepare it and, gulp, eat it. But over the past five years I have persevered — tackling each new vegetable as it appeared and establishing new processes to avoid waste (freezing, drying, juicing, smoothie making). So it is with crowdfunding. At the recent Global Crowdfunding Convention, we heard statements like the one made by SEC Senior Economist Vladimir Ivanov, “Crowdfunding is a sound economic concept and soon will be mainstream.” As our communities transition to this “new normal” of capital access and fundraising, some of it will seem as alien as my first kohlrabi—yet with perseverance and commitment, we will learn new processes, new recipes for success and new delight in ways to support our friends, families and the hometowns we love.

kim-with-veggies

Ancient people holding hands—that’s what we saw on the rock art at the Valley of Fire near Las Vegas last week. Kim and I were in Vegas to attend the Global Crowdfunding Convention and took a few hours to explore the area. We didn’t expect to see the spirit of community carved in stone. But there it was — in petroglyph after petroglyph illustrating the story of human connection dating back thousands of years.

hieroglyphics of community burned onto cliff rock face. old hieroglyphics drawn on rock wall of people

That story is alive and well today and crowdfunding gives it a new way to express itself. While many of the speakers at the convention touted crowdfunding success by dollars raised, there was also an underlying theme expressed by many. Conference convener Ruth Hedges capsulized it when she said, “The essence of crowdfunding is not about money—it’s about showcasing the best of humanity.” That’s why I love this work! Together we’re creating a dynamic place for community, where people share their stories, their resources, and their passion for creativity.img_5402

LARAMIE, Wyoming, October 17, 2016. The Local Crowd (https://www.thelocalcrowd.com), a locally-focused crowdfunding platform, has selected three rural communities to serve as Demonstration Sites for a USDA funded research project.

The Local Crowd’s platform offers features and educational programs designed to help rural communities activate entrepreneurial ecosystems and spur local investment. The two-year USDA Small Business Innovation Research grant will support the launch of up to 30 Demonstration Sites, with the ultimate goal of commercializing a new tool that provides better access to capital for businesses and organizations across rural America.

The three communities selected to be Demonstration Sites are Butte, Montana; Lower Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Harlingen, Texas; and Wood County, Wisconsin. They will join the communities of Bozeman, Montana; Laramie, Wyoming; Golden Hills, Iowa; Goshen, Indiana; Monadnock Region, New Hampshire; Oregon, Illinois; Sauk Valley Region, Illinois; Spoon River, Illinois. and Teton Valley, Idaho.

“We are pleased to have such a strong group of dedicated and visionary communities coming in as our second group of Demonstration Sites,” said Diane Wolverton, Co-Founder and CEO of The Local Crowd. “During the review process, each community team submitted a vision statement about how being a Demonstration site would impact their community. These vision statements capsulized their commitment to stimulate ‘deep collaboration, innovation, local investing, job creation, eco-tourism, youth engagement, and connectivity between businesses and the community.’ We are looking forward to great results from this dynamic and extremely creative team!

oil site with sunset, Wood County, Wisconsin logo and Lower Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce logo

Today we have another successful campaign story to share with you!

Ana’s On Main St. was in need of equipment to keep up with the demand for juices at her shop in Evanston, Wyoming.

With the help of The Local Crowd and Evanston Wyoming’s Main Street office, Ana was able to create a campaign and reach her goal by raising funds from within the community!

woman holding a shop small sign at juice bar called Ana's On Main Street

In 2015, Serendipity Books & Antiques and Evanston, WY Main Street worked with The Local Crowd to raise $6,000 to replace damaged flooring in the kitchen and service area of their store.

With the help of 56 generous, local supports they were able to harness the power of their community and successfully raise the funds to complete their project!

The store was so pleased with the commitments their community made to help raise funds for their new floor, that after the campaign they began donating the cash in their tip jars to local organizations as their way of saying “Thanks!”

In the photo below you can see the ladies of Serendipity gifting nearly $500 to a local Splash Pad project. Wow!

Local cafe owners holding money that they raised by crowdfunding