In March, hundreds of volunteers and supporters of Kansas small town culture converged in Newton for the second Big Rural Brainstorm, organized by the Kansas Sampler Foundation. Marci Penner, director of the foundation, led a brainstorming project that also introduced Kanstarter, an online crowd-funding site still in it’s planning stages.
On Thursday, KSF announced the official launch of the site which will will match Kansas community projects with people who wish to support with donations or volunteerism. Kanstarter opens with four pilot projects from the communities of Burdett, Plains, Wilson and Yates Center. Funding goals range from $5,090 for land for a nonprofit grocery store in Plains, the home of the World’s Widest Main Street, to $18,900 for a marquee restoration project in Wilson. The marquee was severely damaged in a fire that demolished the 1901 Czech opera house. Remains of the stone building will be converted into an amphitheatre but the first phase of the project is the marquee restoration.
Pawnee County’s Burdett is planning to fix and enhance a public miniature golf course with $10,900. As a nod to their most famous citizen Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto, the free course will have a solar system theme.
Ellsworth County’s Wilson is seeking funds to restore the historic marquee sign from the Wilson Czech Opera House. It’s the first step in a plan by the opera house board to reconstruct the 1901 opera house remains into an amphitheater. It was severely damaged in a devastating fire early in the morning of Nov. 6, 2009.
The public will find a description of each project, a video, and an itemization of the funds needed at www.kanstarter.com. Volunteers are also sought to help build the archway for the Yates Center trail project. A second tab titled “help needed” shows the various skills requested.
Penner said, “Communities earn their way to Kanstarter status by involving all generations in the planning process, by concentrating on creativity, and by doing things in a way that will help stimulate energy and involvement in their town. This is not free money. Communities work hard behind the scenes to get to this point.”
The pilot phase of Kanstarter will end in early January. At that point, the site will be opened to eligible community projects from Kansas towns of any size. For more information, read the Frequently Asked Questions section of the site or e-mail email@example.com.
“Dynamics are such that when everyone is pulling together, our entire state is stronger. Kanstarter provides an opportunity for lots of people to chip in a little bit and act as cheerleaders for these towns as they work so hard to survive and thrive.” Penner continued, “This could not have happened without the vision and dedication of Reflective Group who developed the site and the support from the Kansas Department of Commerce tax credit program. This is a great day for Kansas towns.”