Kickstarter and the Praxis of Everyday Life

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Back in 2010, I published my very first zine, which was funded with my very first Kickstarter project, and coincided with the process of booking my very first tour.

I couldn’t have done any of these things without a lot of help from a lot of people.

One of these people, pictured here, is Sarah McCullough. She was one of a handful of the 46 people who had somehow managed to find my obscure zine project on this obscure new crowdfunding site. She lived in Davis (where she was writing her dissertation about mountain biking), I was trying to set up a Davis event, and it seemed like a pretty sure bet that she’d be down with the whole thing, so I emailed her* and asked if she wanted to organize it. She did! And it was awesome.

We stayed in touch, especially once she and fellow bike anthropologist Adonia Lugo co-founded the Bicicultures project for qualitative bike studiers (many of whom use words like “praxis” in regular conversation). And when she moved to San Diego, she said “come do an event here and stay with me” and we did, yesterday.

We stayed with Sarah, and first thing I saw when we walked in her front door was a copy of that first zine—she’d recently taken it out to show someone. I realized that, four years on, I’d never asked her how she actually found that Kickstarter project to begin with.

“I was one of those random people who found it through Kickstarter,” she confirmed. She was taking a break from writing her dissertation (on the anthropology of mountain biking) late one night and followed a link to the site and typed “bicycle” into the search box. My project came up and she got all excited and backed it, and that was that.

I’ve kept using Kickstarter since then (nearing 20 projects, all successful). What keeps me coming back is that it works as a business model, but also that it functions as a sort of social media, but one that’s grounded in real objects, real work, and real face-to-face relationships. (It’s also the only social media site I know of that itself has a sustainable business model, but that’s whole ‘nother blog post.) When someone backs one of my projects, sometimes they’re just buying a book, but usually it’s more than that—they’re supporting a business, promoting a passion project, building a movement, and sometimes even making friends.

So that’s a bit of history, business, and anthropology all rolled up into one longer-than-planned blog post about an old out-of-print** zine. Thanks, Sarah, and also to everyone who’s ever backed one of my projects, bought one of my books or zines, organized or come to one of my events, or done anything related or unrelated to support the feminist bicycle movement. It’s good to be in it with you.

* I don’t do this much nowadays, don’t worry. I try to only bug you to organize events sporadically on my opt-in email list.
** Somewhat to my chagrin, the only way to procure that first zine now is as an eBook via the big bad.***
*** Compounding my chagrin by making that an affiliate link.