The Power of Quests, Pt. II

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Yesterday we looked at three Kickstarter projects that involve quests, and today we’re going to examine three more. What these projects illustrate is the storytelling potential of the funding process, and how many projects have a built-in narrative structure that’s waiting to be discovered.

Think of every fantasy and science-fiction movie that you’ve ever seen or every RPG you’ve ever played — at certain key moments during the quest, the protagonist has to solicit assistance from people sympathetic to the cause to overcome key obstacles, to finally see things through to the end. Kickstarter projects work in the same way — it’s the backers that every project creator needs.

Building a New Ark: The Floating Doctors

A few years ago, a doctor visited a remote African village with a backpack of medical supplies. He sat all day under a tree in the center of the village, treating everyone who waited. At the end of the day, the doctor had run out of medicine, and yet many more people were awaiting care. Distraught, the doctor made his way to his jeep, where he cried for a very long time over what he had seen.

That’s the origin story for the Floating Doctors, and before doing anything else, take three minutes to watch their video, which explains the mission beautifully. The small crew will set sail for South America next month on the Southern Wind, a 76-foot boat donated by a couple who had planned to retire on it, but who decided that Dr. Benjamin LaBrot could put it to better use.

The Floating Doctors need $25,000 to launch their first mission, which will take them to remote Central and Southern America villages accessible by boat. It’s hard to imagine a more noble goal.

Sea to Shining Sea: Sarah Sharp Visits All Fifty States

A quest doesn’t need to save lives or cure society’s ills to be valid. What ultimately matters is its importance to the person seeking it, and, in Kickstarter’s case, whether other people agree. Both are obviously true in the case of 50 States, a project by Sarah Sharp with a familiar goal: to visit all fifty US states in one year. Sarah is doing more than visiting each state; she’s also making postcards for each state using her photography. Here’s one for Florida that she posted as a project update:

With nearly $3,500 raised of her $5,000 goal and more than a month left, Sarah’s quest looks to be in good shape, with an active community supporting her mission.

Honey I Shrunk Detroit: Jerry Paffendorf’s Loveland

Where to begin with Loveland? Here’s the premise: in the quasi post-Apocalyptic reality that is modern-day Detroit, a guy named Jerry Paffendorf came up with the idea to buy a piece of property on the cheap and turn it into a million square-inch grid. For $1, you can own one inch, with $12 getting you twelve inches, $100 getting one hundred inches, etc.

Loveland is part social experiment, part virtual world-style real estate, and all playful fun. Jerry will allow people to build on their inches — erecting miniature skyscrapers or pretty much anything else you can imagine — and his blog details his thought process on how Loveland will evolve.

The silliness of Loveland is a huge part of its appeal. Five years ago Loveland would be a comment on the ridiculousness of real estate; now it’s a reminder that maybe $1 for a piece of property is a fair price after all.

(A potential Loveland viewer)

Following along with Jerry’s madcap vision it’s clear that there’s no limit as to how grand he plans to make this. It’s not hard to imagine visiting Loveland in two years to find it expanding at an incredible rate (reminiscent of Synecdoche, New York), with Jerry as the Wizard behind the curtain. That’s $12 in inches well-spent.