I must confess - I was backing this project long before I decided to Squatch Kick it. So, what made the difference?
As time begins to wane and the project deadline begins to loom large ahead of them, Emily Cronk and Rob Schoch have apparently begun to grasp the true sense of urgency that this Kickstarter project deserves to have associated with it. I love it when crowdfunding project creators take their projects seriously - no matter what kind of crowd funding undertaking is involved.
Many of the crowdfunding projects that populate the Kickstarter website are little more than vanity projects. Now, that's not to say that vanity projects are a bad thing, because they most assuredly are not. Indeed, if anything, vanity projects get the creative juices flowing, and they help to push the envelope on what is possible, artistically and creatively.
But, this little project of Rob's and Emily's is anything but a vanity project. What's at issue here is something that is manifestly useful. On its face, this crowdfunding project is about seeking funding to buy a tractor - and a used tractor, at that. So, why should anyone out there care about a second-hand tractor? Is this the kind of stuff that rises to the level of Squatch Kick interest?
Most assuredly and without any reservations, whatsoever, I can and do attest that it is!
Squatch, in the context of crowd funding projects, is a term that I coined to describe that which makes a crowdfunding project bigger and better. Kickstarter is, first and foremost, a visual medium. It rewards objects of visual interest. That's why a good project video and crisp, clear photographs or colorful artwork help get so many projects funded.
But, bigger and better isn't something that is limited to the visual spectrum, alone. Rather, they extend far beyond such a narrow spectrum of what interests and appeals to human beings. This project right here is, first and foremost, a human interest story. It is a trip back to yesteryear, to a time when life was simpler, yet more rewarding. This is a tale about two individuals who wanted something more out of life, and that something turned out to be a farm. It causes us to grapple with the nostalgia that abides deep down inside of us.
A less complicated life, although one that will invariably require an investment of hands-on physical work. What they need is a mechanical beast of burden - a tractor!Posited against the backdrop of a farm, a tractor makes perfect sense.
It is a time-saver, if it is anything. It is also a work-multiplier. A tractor will help them to get things accomplished, and in a far more time-efficient manner than would otherwise be possible. Above and beyond just being a crowd funding project, this is something that just plain makes one whole heck of a lot of good old fashioned common sense. This tractor, you see, is a bridge to a better tomorrow!
A couple falls in love and decides to uproot themselves and their lives in sunny California, and all for the purpose of driving across the country to start a new life on a farm in the hills of Tennessee. But, while there was a house and some buildings on the site where they moved to, to get it from where they found it to where they want it to be, will require an enormous amount of work. In layman's terms, that means a lot of hard, physical work - the kind that gets you all sweaty and covered in dust and dirt.
Over the course of this project's lifespan-to-date, they have finally decided upon a name for their farm. And what did they choose? Russell Hill Ranch!
So, even in a relatively short period of time, their vision for what this piece of land could be has grown. It has expanded. It has transitioned from just a farm to an actual ranch. It now has an identity. It's no longer just an amorphous idea. Rather, it is something that has actually begun to take concrete form.
It is taking form, and rapidly so, for the very reason that their combined efforts - of themselves and of those who are chipping in to lend a hand - have begun to breathe life into a place that they want to call home. Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
I believe in this project, because I love this project. It is a project which has at its very core a couple of very real people in pursuit of a very real dream. It is a tale of Americana playing itself out right before my very eyes. It is a story worth telling, a story very worthy of being shared.
As this crowdfunding project got underway and evolved, the parents of both Emily and Rob got involved, also. They came to lend a hand. They contributed their labor and their expertise. In the process, they invested a little bit of their hearts and their souls into this dream of Emily and Rob. This little crowdfunding project has long since ceased to be just about Emily and Rob, even as it remains quintessentially about this young couple that I have never met, and whom I will likely never actually meet in person.
With each new photograph that they post, this project becomes more and more real to me. That's one of the reasons why I decided to increase my initial pledge to this project.
As the crops that they've planted begin to take root and grow, I feel this whole thing just coming alive. To see the land being transformed through its tilling and cultivation is to watch things begin to take shape. As neighbors stop by and begin to lend a hand, even things that are small standing alone begin to add momentum to this snowball that Rob and Emily began to roll downhill not so very long ago. A snowball of progress is a wonderful thing to behold!
Where once there was a vacant house and some buildings sitting idle, now there are chickens and ducks and plants giving this little corner of the Earth signs of life, signs of a community beginning to take interest, signs of a dream starting to morph into reality.
Life, itself, is an exercise in imperfection. Countless problems to contend with. An endless amount of dilemmas to confront. It isn't about achieving perfection, but rather, about making things whole. To watch the repairs to the house take hold, seeing the bad and beholding how it is made better, each notch of progress helping to make a positive difference. What's going on here with Emily Cronk's and Rob Schoch's farm - Russell Hill Ranch - are wheels beginning to turn. Life is being made whole. It is being imbued with meaning and substance and worth, and all of these good and positive things are being sewn together with a tapestry of human involvement and neighborly contributions.
In an era when so much about the world seems to be in decline, what's flourishing here in the quiet and rolling hills of Tennessee are more than mere plants and assorted farm animals. What's flourishing is a better life, a better way of life, and a robust sense of people coming together to help other people.
If you think that it's just about funding a tractor, you're wrong. It's long since become about more than that - much more! In fact, I dare say that it was never just about getting people to contribute money to buy a single piece of mechanical equipment.
It's about the people involved. It's about the people who become involved. It's about the coming together to make possible something worthwhile, about achieving something that gives back in a whole multitude of different ways.
I was sold on this project, the very moment that I encountered it. Some crowdfunding projects just have a way of connecting with you, of becoming personally meaningful to you.
That's why I'm Squatch Kicking this project! It's more than just organic farming. It's just plain wonderful!