Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding: (v) the activity or process of raising money from a large number of people, typically through a website

Let us assume it started with a guy named Jim.

Jim was a happy teenager, but his family was very poor. He had two pairs of jeans.

Both of them were old, both showing wear and even some tear.

Jim sat in his room, quietly trying to figure out how he could go to school without looking like he was poverty stricken.

Suddenly he had an idea. Rather than going to school with a pair of jeans that had one little tear in them, he would go ahead and tear them in several different places—and when others in his class laughed at him, he would explain that this was the rage from the West Coast.

Wearing tattered jeans.

At first his friends mocked him—and then one, maybe two—could it have been five? They stepped out from the taunting crowd and asked Jim where he got his jeans because they wanted a pair.

Jim made up some company, and since the teenagers were unable to find it, they went home and cut up their own jeans, which eventually became a fad. And then, all at once, the jeans that didn’t have wear and tear—didn’t have holes—were the cheap ones.

And the ripped ones were expensive.

Likewise, somewhere along the line, someone (maybe his name was Jim, too) anyway, he got tired of begging his family for money for lamebrain projects and having them turn him down because they weren’t gonna put another dime into what he did “until he went out and got a goddamn job.”

Well, this fellow—let’s just call him Jim—was too proud to go out on the street and hold a cardboard sign requesting aid. So Jim wrote a blurb describing what he would do with seed money, put together a website and started something called “crowdfunding,” which is nothing more than a way to beg for money while looking like you might be in the pursuit of a great endeavor.

It is the torn-up jeans of fundraising.

Most of the people who raise their money by crowdfunding don’t necessarily finish what they claimed they were going to do, but for a brief moment, we think the twenty dollars we donated might become the next Star Wars film, or fund a plunger that needs no human effort, but tackles the toilet by itself.

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Cornhusker

Cornhusker: (n) a Nebraskan

It would be much easier to claim that you’re a cow if you’re able to chew your cud and moo. Producing milk would also be a positive.

When I graduated from high school and opted not to go to college because my wife and I were pregnant with possibilities, I realized that I did funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
not want to be the kind of guy who didn’t go to college and worked at the kind of job this kind of guy is forced to take.

I liked music. I thought I had some talent.

No one ever actually sat down with me and made suggestions on how to use my ability or guided me in a direction of turning my existing efforts into some sort of cash flow.

I was told that I was not allowed to do anything but get a job and take care of my family.

I didn’t want to do that.

Now, I’m not asking you to side with me on this issue, nor am I desiring your cultural rebuke. I’m just explaining that if I were claiming to be a singer and a musician, I needed to go “music” somewhere.

So discovering in a very obscure newspaper a notice that there was a coffeehouse opening up in Kearney, Nebraska, I contacted the fellow beginning it on the phone, told him about my little group, and said that we would love to come and share at his new venue. He was thrilled (since we were from Ohio and he was all the way in Nebraska.)

It didn’t even cross my mind to look at a map. Before I knew it, the gentleman invited us to come and sing at the coffeehouse with the promise that he would “help out with gas.”

At that point in my life I had a van which creaked and squeaked just driving around town, threatening to break down at a moment’s notice. I didn’t care. Nor did my three other comrades.

We set out for Kearney, Nebraska. Matter of fact, when I began this essay today, I had to look up how far it was from Columbus, Ohio, to Kearney, Nebraska. I am so glad I didn’t have the Internet back then, because the distance one way is 968.4 miles.

We packed in some soft drinks, made some sandwiches, gathered as much money as we could borrow and pull out of couch cushions, and took off. We joked about “touring to the Cornhusker State,” never realizing that it would be many, many hours—twelve to be exact—before we would be anywhere near those who were traditionally proclaimed “huskers of corn.”

I’m happy to report that we actually made it there.

As is often the case, the opportunity was even smaller than I could have imagined. But the fourteen people who showed up said they were really impressed with our songs and happy we had made the trip. They gave us thirty dollars for our gasoline, a bushel of sweet corn and a peck of apples.

It was my first payday.

The round trip, as you can imagine, ended up being nearly two thousand miles.

But I was young, looking for an adventure, and especially trying to find a way to escape—for one week—from hearing all the town cronies telling me what a deadbeat I was.


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