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Friday, September 5, 2014

Making Tracks - Episode # 2

This is a project that I have been tracking, intermittently, from almost the very beginning. It is a simple little project, one with a fairly typical and ordinary person at the helm of its creation. It has a very low funding goal, and with just a tad over a week left to go in its campaign cycle, this Kickstarter project is now starting to gain some traction - and to make some tracks.

Things are progressing. Things are starting to look up. Why? Perseverance. Dedication to an idea. Commitment to a concept. Here, we are treated to a modern day incarnation of the Little Engine That Could.

The project creator, Stephanie Lassen, hails from a little place called Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Thus, the girl from Sun Prairie seeks to spread some sunshine in the form of smiles, by making people smile with an idea so innocuous, so seemingly trivial, that it would be all too easy to pass it by.

But, I'm not!

Like a Johnny Appleseed for the 21st Century, she's planting the seeds for smiles. Her goal? To touch the lives of random people in a positive way. In other words, to put a little light into the world.

OK, fair enough, you say. But, why now? If it's such a great little project, one worthy of recognition or accolade, why wait so late into its Kickstarter cycle, before recognizing that it is making tracks, and hence, making headway?

Because, it was only just today, that I caught a true glimmer of the project creator's own passion reigniting - a small burst of genuine excitement that, to me at least, registered as palpable.

The project page, itself, remains a rather foreboding mass of text, a tower of text that many, I suspect, will not fancy wading through. Great swaths of text uninterrupted by visual elements of any kind, save for a couple of photos that give the project page a lonelier feel than befits it.

To see them, to behold them, the sheer modesty of the concept takes hold. From meager beginnings do lofty titans rise! Surely, she jests?

No, my friend, most assuredly, she does not.

To change the world, to make it a better place, does not require that one shift the entire planet on its axis, nor to change its path of orbit. Indeed, to change the world is not - and has never been - about changing the entire world, nor even all of the lives of all of the people who populate it - in a literal sense.

No, to change the world is a much more genuine experience, one accessible at a much more realistic level. To be meaningful, you see, and to effectuate meaningful difference in people's lives, can happen at any time, on any level, and the change can be either temporary or permanent in nature.

For, to spread a smile requires but one recipient to be moved to a brighter moment in their life, for success to be legitimately laid claim to.

This particular brand of smile is to be wrought from wood, in the form of small wooden tokens. The wood, however, is the messenger, not the message.

You might just happen upon one of these tokens anywhere, at anytime.

They are not mere trinkets associated with a scavenger hunt writ large. No, what we have here is something far more personal. What we have here is an attempt to touch, not just the heart, but the soul, as well. It's almost as if you don't find these tokens, so much as they find you.

And what, pray tell me, is wrong with something like that? What is wrong with wanting to make the world a better place, for the someone out there who is unseen by the creator of this project, at the time that she sends the message forth into the great beyond that is the world which lies all about her?

People have a dreadful tendency to lead hectic lives. We tend to get our priorities all screwed up. There are times in life when we need to slow down, and to ponder afresh the simple things in life.

I didn't even find one of the actual tokens, but I discovered something even better. I encountered the tokens of others, online, but even beyond that, I met the personality behind it all.

It was in an out of the way place online, in a forum earmarked for discussions of crowd funding projects of every sort.

Now, I don't know the young lady very well, at all. I've never met her in person, before. Hell, I've never even heard of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, before, much less ever been there.

No, my initial encounter with her was as initially uneventful as stumbling across one of the tokens that she crafts by hand, one at a time.

I can't - and won't - Squatch Kick a Kickstarter project whose project page remains in such a visual state of need, as this one is. But, even that is no bar to me recognizing progress, where it is being made.

This project currently stands at 72% of goal, as of the time that I publish this article to the Internet.

Thus, it's future remains uncertain, even still.

Yet, the Kicktraq data for this project reveals that it stands at 135 shares, and its progress thus far today, alone, utterly dwarfs all of its other progress on the funding front, from day one.

How ironic it is, then, that a project that aims to make random strangers smile is being backed so randomly, so infrequently - a mere twelve backers, at this point - an even dozen.

Somehow, I think that this little project just plain deserves better.

Do you wonder if it will work? Her idea, I mean. Do you suppose that something like this, such a simple little thing, can make people smile?

It's the sentiment that it carries that is what will get that job done. When people care about something, it has a way of showing, you see. It has a way of reaching out and touching people, even if it be an inanimate object.

Thus far, these little wooden tokens have made their way from Wisconsin to Montana, and even as far away as Australia. That's quite a distance for such itty bitty wooden tokens to roll. Then again, it's alright to be itty bitty.

But, this little engine is the engine that could, you see. It rolls down the tracks and disappears into distant lands - to places that lie far beyond the horizon of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

Along the way, some people are smiling smiles for reasons that they have never smiled, before.

Somewhere out there, a smile is waiting to be discovered. But, in a place called Sun Prairie, Wisconisn, somebody is making tracks!

Project: Somewhere Out There
Project Creator: Stephanie Lassen
Kicktraq Link
Kickspy Link
Somewhere Out There discussion on KickstarterForum.Org


  1. Thank you so much for the support! Do you think I could change up my page to make it more visually enticing? Is it too late in the game? Do you have maybe some links to some example projects that might help me? I am really willing to put in the effort, every little bit helps!

    (For those of you that note that my last name is Thomas, that is because I am getting married soon!) This is indeed Stephanie Lassen of Sun Prairie). :)

  2. such a beautiful write dear soul cannot thank you enough all light and love julie ( proud momma lol) :)

  3. It ain't over, until it's over, Stephanie. Thus, it's not too late to make changes to your project page. You can do that, right up until the very end.