The Kickstarter Blog

Games You Can Play: Creator Picks

Today we unveiled Play Now, a collection of Kickstarter-funded games on Steam that you can… play right now! It lists over 100 games, which is an awful lot. What to play first? To help with that question, we asked some game creators and other gaming friends to pick one Kickstarter project that you should check out on Steam. Here are their selections. We’re going to take July off and play them all. (Spoiler alert: A lot of people recommend The Banner Saga.)

Brian Fargo, founder of inXile, makers of Wasteland 2 
Pick: The Banner Saga 

It's been so refreshing to play Banner Saga, with its rich visual style and great tactics to explore. The animation reminds me of the old Ralph Bakshi animated films, which brings back good memories. I definitely recommend picking up this game to experience the passion and detail the developers poured into it. 

Jake Elliott, half of Cardboard Computer, makers of Kentucky Route Zero 
Pick: Octodad: Dadliest Catch 

Recently we've seen several high-profile videogames assign the player to the role of "father" as protector, aging ultraviolent breadwinner, and gruff man who makes the hard decisions because it's his paternal mandate. Octodad is a welcome counterpoint: a warm and playful slapstick game about love and self-doubt. And the sound design is fantastic! 

Kelly Wallick, overlord at the indie game showcase Indie Megabooth 
Pick: Legend of Dungeon

Dynamic lighting and music play along with this fun, stylistic cooperative beat-’em-up. It's built a strong community and has a fun take on the traditional genres it's working in. Plus the development team are an amazing husband-and-wife duo who previously lived in a treehouse. What's not to love? 

Peter Molyneux, video game designer and creator of Godus 
Pick: FTL: Faster Than Light 

I adore the sense of freedom in the game. I find it utterly absorbing. You can love and protect every last one of the crew, or you can be a bastard if you like and flush them out the airlock. I love all the little surprises -- I can be flying along or in a battle and an asteroid will hit me in an unexpected spot and all of a sudden a new story has started. 

Jordan Weisman, chief executive of Harebrained Schemes, makers of Shadowrun Returns 
Pick: The Banner Saga 

The Banner Saga looks absolutely stunning! Stoic's expressive 2D character animations and Eyvind Earle-inspired vistas really come together, and the end result is a breathtaking fantasy Viking world. It's also a great RPG adventure in its own right. Well worth your time.

Brandon Boyer, founder of the Kickstarter-funded gaming site Venus Patrol 
Pick: Kentucky Route Zero 

At a glance, Kentucky Route Zero bears little similarity to the concepts originally Kickstarted in early 2011, but, importantly, it's lost none of the tone that originally made that pitch so compelling. A true modern videogame masterpiece about being down and out and lost in America, the game has learned how to create a sense of place from some of the best cinematic and theatrical designers in the world, and has already (even at only halfway complete!) become one of the most surreal and essential adventures the medium has ever seen. 

Adrian Husby, PR at Krillbite Studio, makers of Among the Sleep 
Pick: Broken Age 

Broken Age is an obvious product of love and dedication, with as much charm and character as you'll ever see. 

Kevin Zuhn, creative director and lead designer for Octodad: Dadliest Catch 
Pick: Retro Game Crunch 

Each of the games in Retro Game Crunch is a worthy standalone experience, and swirled together they're irresistible. Whether you like exploring, evolving, or shooting demons with your friends there's something here for you. The chiptunes are pretty great, too. 

Jim Mummery, creative director at Born Ready, makers of Strike Suit Zero 
Pick: Shadowrun Returns 

Feels like nostalgia wrapped in a cyberpunk freshness. It reminded me of days playing the classic RPGs: Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, etc. 

Ryan Wiemeyer, owner/designer at The Men Who Wear Many Hats, makers of Organ Trail 
Pick: Risk of Rain 

Despite the name that has nothing to do with anything that happens in the game, playing Risk of Rain is deeply satisfying, like sliding a hot dog into a perfectly fitted tubing. Uniquely featuring a "race against the difficulty curve" mechanic which forces you to supercharge yourself with more power-ups than you can keep track of in a vain attempt to not have wasted the last half hour of your life. I'm going to play it right now! 

Thomas Lund, chief executive at Full Control, makers of Jagged Alliance: Flashback 
Pick: Expeditions: Conquistador 

Not too many titles dare take up non-standard themes, but Expeditions really got me into the entire colonization era in a great way. It reminds me a lot of Heroes of Might and Magic, while giving it a personal twist and challenging combat. Great job as a first title by the team. 

Wiley Wiggins, actor and creative director at Karakasa Games, makers of Thunderbeam! 
Pick: Retro Game Crunch 

Retro Game Crunch is an unparalleled feat in the annals of games: six incredibly polished games made under classic NES constraints in almost as few months, each an interpretation of a backer-submitted theme. "Immortal, learn to die" became End of Line, the Retro Game Crunch title that was included in last year's Fantastic Arcade in Austin, Texas (and my favorite of the six).

Justin Ma, half of Subset Games, makers of FTL: Faster Than Light 
Pick: The Banner Saga 

I strongly recommend The Banner Saga. It's a lovingly crafted world where the strong characters, beautiful setting, and wonderful music draw you into the story immediately.

What are your favorite games from our Play Now page? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to drop us a note when your Kickstarter-funded game makes its Steam debut, so we can add it to the page:

At the White House Maker Faire

Last week the White House hosted the first ever White House Maker Faire. Countless Kickstarter creators attended, including Lisa Q. Fetterman, creator of the Nomiku sous vide machine, who was kind enough to recap her afternoon with the president for us.

Awaiting the President
Awaiting the President

Ceremonious music played and the room got silent; President Obama was about to get on the podium to decree June 18th as the National Day of Making. “Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow,” I said to myself, cupping my face in my hands. “I didn’t know I was sitting in front of the doge meme,” joked a fellow maker. I had to laugh! That comment was so indicative of the people in the room — we are all a little nerdy (okay, maybe more than a little), and I was totally out of my element but delighted like an internet Shiba Inu.

The OpenROV guys all suited up
The OpenROV guys all suited up

Imagine being amongst people whose open-source projects you admire. The White House Maker Faire was like opening up MAKE magazine and having the projects pop out. I salivated over the Pancakebot, gave a glorious connected-circuit fist bump to MaKey MaKey, and got super giddy when I saw the typically laid back OpenROV underwater explorers in their crisp suits. We shared a ribcage-crushing hug so tight that my heart felt a squeeze. 

Lisa Fetterman and Yancey Strickler
Lisa Fetterman and Yancey Strickler

Besides being a dream come true for a maker and science fangirl, the White House Maker Faire validated and introduced a decades-old movement that is starting to dramatically shape the economy from the bottom up. When we first made a prototype of the Nomiku Sous Vide, it was exhilarating but lonely. It wasn’t until we stumbled across Mitch Altman, who was getting interviewed as a “maker” at a Lower East Side vegan restaurant, that we found an ally. Mitch gave us a key to his San Francisco makerspace, Noisebridge, and taught us how to solder in a Brooklyn basement. 

This man probably needs no introduction
This man probably needs no introduction

On June 18th, President Obama invited us over to his house. If Mitch could inspire so many people and change so many lives, just imagine the revolution a “National Day of Making” could set off. We are living in one of most exciting and creative times in history. In his speech, President Obama explained that everyone is a maker: “It’s in our DNA."

I can’t wait to see what we make together.

New Security Features: Two-factor authentication and IP history

Making sure that your Kickstarter account is secure is a huge priority for us, and we’re sure it is for you, too. Today we’re happy to be unveiling two new features, both of which will help keep your account and data safer than ever.

The first is two-factor authentication, which adds an extra layer of protection by requiring a second step to log into your account. It’s now available to all users — all you need to do is turn it on in your Account Settings. If you’ve never used two-factor authorization before, here’s how it works: whenever you (or anyone else) try to log into your account from an unfamiliar device or computer, we’ll generate a special pass code, and send it to you via text message, voicemail, or an authorization app. You’ll be prompted to enter that code before you can access your account.

Why enable two-factor authorization? More security. This way, even if someone did manage to figure out your password, they wouldn’t be able to access your account without having your phone in hand, too.

And you’ll know for sure that your account’s safe, thanks to another feature: IP history. Take a look at the bottom of your Account Settings page — you should see a list of each time your account’s been accessed, complete with the IP address and location of each login. (Note: locations aren’t always perfectly exact, so don’t be too alarmed if you see the location of your service provider’s hub in the next zip code.) If you notice any activity you can’t explain, just change your password, consider turning on two-factor authorization, and let us know.

With these tools, it’s easier for you to know that your account’s safe, sound, and locked up tight.

Meet the Team: Chase and George

We thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. So every week, a couple members of the Kickstarter team will be saying hello, and picking out a few projects — past or present, successful or not — that they're especially fond of. (They will also be posing for GIFs. The GIFs are mandatory.)

This week, meet Chase and George:

Chase Pashkowich

Job: "I help watch over Kickstarter and maintain the system's integrity."

  • Tharsis Sleeps — "I love to see an artist take a perfectly good, well defined process and decide they can complicate it immensely. Tharsis Sleeps is an animated short about terraforming Mars, but every frame is an embroidered patch. Naturally, the music video for a psychedelic metal band."
  • World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set — "Farming and gardening are deeply ideological, but we are rarely condition to believe so. People should know how that ideology manifests, and World Domination Gardening documented just that. Plants are awesome, respecting them is extra awesome. And now I have several hours of people respecting plants to nerd out over!"
  • Roll Play Dice Tees 2 — "I need a flashier way to show the world that I'm super serious about die-based role playing. Enter these shirts. Killer."

 George Schmalz (@schmalztastic)

Job: "I help creators with film projects, and generally stare at film projects in various states of completion all day every day. These are a few of my recent favorites — currently live on site and needing some help finding their way over the finish line..."

  • The Viking of 6th Avenue — "Documentary chronicling the life of famed New York street personality and composer Moondog. Chances are he's crossed paths with some of your favorite musicians."
  • Two Please — "This is a sequel to the great dark comedy/horror short One Please (premiered earlier this year at Tribeca). Michael Berryman plays an ice-cream man who trades in some interesting currency."
  • Mountains of Madness — "Animated version of Lovecraft's 'At The Mountains Of Madness.' This may be the only chance the world will ever have of seeing this story come to filmic life. After you check out the campaign find the original short here."
  • Ambulante — "Diego Luna & Gael Garcia Bernal's traveling doc fest is making its first sojourn to the United States this fall."
  • The Janet Collins Story — "Animated short about the first African-American ballerina to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. Features some beautiful artwork."

LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow and Some of his Favorite Books

By now, you've probably heard about actor LeVar Burton's campaign to bring Reading Rainbowthe television show that taught a generation to love books—back to life through Kickstarter. Burton will revive the show in tablet form rather than on television, but that doesn't mean that an entire generation's love for the show that reminded us that reading was actually pretty fun has diminished at all.

Burton has been providing periodic updates on the campaign, but we decided to catch up with him to talk about what happened after the show ended in 2006, as well as some of his favorite books.

The Reading Rainbow campaign has been running for a few weeks now. How has it been feeling?

It’s been amazing and exhilarating and overwhelming and exhausting. It’s been all of that. A maelstrom of emotions. Everything you could possibly think of. 

Were you expecting the amount of support you've already received?

No. No no no. You know, most Kickstarters are 30 days, and we wanted to give ourselves an extra five days just in case we needed a little extra time to push it over the top at the end. We never anticipated making our goal on the first day. The outpouring of overwhelming love and support for Reading Rainbow has been amazing. Surprising and wonderful and humbling—it’s been crazy. In a good way.

When Reading Rainbow went off the air in 2006, you set out pretty quickly to secure the rights for the show yourself. When did that happen?

It was actually the announcement that Reading Rainbow was being taken off the air. It was that day when that announcement was made, that my business partner and I looked at each other and we said, "Now is the time. Let’s go for it." It took awhile to get the rights in order. The decision was quick and easy; the actual securing of the rights took another 18 months.

Did you already know what you wanted to do with the rights?

No clue at that time! We knew that we wanted it to be part of this new and emerging digital realm. We knew that television was always something that we could go back to, but we wanted to try and join the new media revolution and extend the brand beyond what it had been before and explore the potential for what the brand could be in the now and in the future. Even though we didn’t know what that was. We were thinking about a virtual world—it was really when the iPad was released that things began to crystallize for us. We recognized that the future of storytelling was changing. 

When I saw The Elements app on the iPad, I got so excited because it meant that books in this digital medium could take on an interactive quality that was only previously possible in your imagination. Now you could have an interaction on two levels: a physical visual as well as imaginative. The potential for children’s storytelling and children’s picture books was tremendous. 

In addition to that, Reading Rainbow was always famous for the visual field trip, as well as the books that we featured. So to be able—in short bites, two and three minute segments, Reading Rainbow was a very segmented television experience—in two or three minute segments we could have that same feeling, we could deliver that same kind of quality video field trip content. Then it was just a matter of figuring out what it looked like and what the UI was, and how do we deliver the books and make relationships with publishers, and get them to trust us with their books...

In a previous interview, you talked about how part of the reason Reading Rainbow went off the air was the No Child Left Behind initiative. The way you described it was: “government policy made a choice between teaching the rudiments of reading and fostering a love of reading." That seems like a very important distinction.

Yes. That was totally through my lens. My point of view, my assessment of what happened. I don’t think I’m necessarily wrong, but I want you to know that was through my lens. It very much seemed like that was what we were asking ourselves to do: to make a choice between teaching kids how to read and fostering a love of reading, that there was no room for both under No Child Left Behind.

In that same interview you talked about how, when you did Roots, part of that was about using television as an educational medium. There are people now worried about their kids spending too much time with iPads. Is this new iteration of Reading Rainbow about using children's technological interactions for educational purposes?

Yes. That’s correct. Absolutely right. It’s funny that 31 years later we’re still having the same conversation, only about different technology. The conversation 31 years ago when Reading Rainbow first came out, was Are children watching too much television? Is television going to be the death of our children's learning process? Reading Rainbow was revolutionary, and we decided to go in the opposite direction and use the medium of television because of its engagement properties to spread our message: that books are amazing. That books are great fun. I believe we are doing the same thing [now]. Our mission has not changed, but certainly the technology has. Now we’re using the engagement properties of the tablet computer to spread the same message.

How did you develop this love of reading that you’ve carried through life?

This is all my mother’s fault. My mother was an english teacher, and it was expected in her house that you read. She insisted upon it. Not only that, but my mother did something that I think is really, really important, and something I think we need to focus on in our current cultural climate. As an avid reader, my mother always read in front of me when I was a child. I just absorbed that example that reading is part of being human. She always had several books going for her own enjoyment and entertainment, and I really believe that that is, in a large measure, responsible. I grew up understanding the value of a relationship with the written word. It certainly has played itself out in my lifetime, you know?

How did it feel—loving reading—to be part of a show that was about loving books?

Well, the show was created by a teacher who wanted to address the summer loss phenomenon, which is when a child is learning how to read and they’re in the process of cracking the code, and then they take that three month summer vacation. When they come back to school in September, their reading and comprehension skills have plummeted. They’re rusty. It’s a muscle—especially at the beginning. You gotta use it. The idea at the beginning was pretty revolutionary, but it wasn’t rocket science, it was just observation. Where are our kids spending most of their time? That was the ’80s. It was in front of the TV. The television—the medium itself—gave us the opportunity to do storytelling in a really effective way. The book adaptation with moving the camera over the original art and then having a celebrity voice over it—sweetening that adaptation with music and sound effects. In a culture that has become increasingly frantic and frenetic, the pace of Reading Rainbow was always very easy. It was an opportunity to take a deep breath.

Growing up, did you have a favorite book?

I had a lot of different tastes. I think my methodology was to expose myself to as much as I possibly could. That’s how I found science fiction literature, which has become pretty much my favorite genre. The book that I recognize was very pivotal to becoming a reader for me was Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, and then in high school it was just an explosion. I remember reading The Red Badge of Courage. It’s of course when I read the Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, for the first time—those were all books that I was introduced to in high school. Siddhartha I was introduced to in high school, [and] of course Beowulf, which I never really enjoyed. I don’t think anybody really enjoys reading Beowulf. And then growing up in Sacramento, I had an emergent political consciousness, and I discovered writers like [Tom] Wolfe and [Norman] Mailer—of course the beat poets: [Lawrence] Ferlinghetti, [Allen] Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac...and then there’s [James] Joyce—I was educated by predominantly Irish Catholic nuns, so…

Did your literary interests translate into your television work? It seems like they did.

I’m always amazed when I get asked this question or a question like this because it presupposes that I had any real sense of choice in this at all. I say about my career: "I have taken that which has come my way and made the best of it."

You have a unique ability—for someone that takes what comes his way—to play a lot of universally beloved characters.

Yeah. It’s crazy huh. I do see this. I honestly see that there is a through line that begins with Kunta [Kinte, the protagonist of Roots] and ends with Geordi [La Forge, Burton's character on Star Trek: The Next Generation] and LeVar is right in the middle.

Is there any aspect of your literary background that helped you recognize something important in these roles?

If you look at it through that literary lens: Roots was based in a novel. Gene Roddenberry was a writer of science fiction, those teleplays were morality plays, really. And Reading Rainbow is nothing if not literature-centric. So yeah, when you put it that way, I’d have to agree that books and the written word have played a pivotal, crucial role in the unfolding of my career.

Did you grow to love any book through doing Reading Rainbow?

There are two that I always like to mention when given this opportunity. One is a book that boys tend to love called Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, and the other is a book for everybody, but I love recommending it for girls, and it’s called Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman.

What do you like about those books?

Both of them are books that really remind me of the essential nature of being human. Enemy Pie in a very funny way: it deals with a young boy who has an enemy in his life and his father helps him come to terms with it in a way that is very surprising. He makes an "enemy pie" for the kid, and the kid of course expects that the enemy pie is something they will eat. He wonders, is it going to poison him…how is this enemy pie? Because his dad has told him, "I know how to fix your problem with an enemy pie." How is this going to happen? When, in fact, the father sends the boy on a journey that ends up transforming his son’s relationship with this kid from being enemies to being friends. 

Amazing Grace is a story about a young black girl who wants to be Peter Pan in the school play. There are kids in the class who say that she is not qualified because she is A) black and B) a girl. But Grace triumphs through the power of her imagination—and she was, because of the power of her imagination, the perfect choice for Peter Pan. They’re both books that really talk about the human experience in an age-appropriate manner for kids that informs us that there are always bumps in the road of life and it’s not what happens to you that determines who you are, it’s how you deal with what happens to you.

Is there any book you are reading, or read recently, that stands out?

Right now, I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and it is excruciatingly good. [I love] that it is excruciating to read, and I can’t put it down. I can’t not turn the next page, but I don’t want to see the next bad thing. I don’t want to experience the next bad thing that happens to this guy. It’s a train wreck, but you can’t avert your eyes.

Kickstarter, the White House, and Makerspaces!

At Kickstarter, we constantly see how Makers are fueling the future – they’re the ones who are taking ideas and putting them into action. Sometimes the end product is something big and crazy, like a Delorean hovercraft, and sometimes it’s a tiny object with a major impact, like the MaKey MaKey.

The White House also knows how important Makers are. President Obama recently announced new efforts to encourage all of us “to be makers of things, not just consumers of things,” and today he’s hosting the first-ever White House Maker Faire! We’re really excited to be at the White House today, alongside some amazing Kickstarter creators, in celebration of creativity and innovation. (Did we mention there is a livestream? You can watch it here!)

As part of the Maker initiative, President Obama challenged us to come up with new ways to support makers. We thought, besides the community and funding that they can find on Kickstarter, what else do makers need?

Makers need places to make things! They need to be able to share ideas and collaborate with like-minded people in a supportive, open, and friendly environment that encourages creativity and spurs innovation. As Kickstarter alum David Lang, the creator of the OpenROV underwater robot put it in his book Zero to Maker: “Making, I discovered early on, was about the art of finding other people – seeking out teachers, creating and joining like-minded groups, collaborating with strangers – and co-creating together.”

So in the spirit of creating incredible things, we’re excited to announce a new sub-category devoted to Makerspaces. Kickstarter is a natural place to find support for building a new Makerspace or improving an existing one – you can get feedback from the people who would want to join, and offer membership as a reward. Some great Makerspace projects have already happened on Kickstarter, like the LA Maker Space and MakerKidz in Annapolis, but we know there are more out there.

Plus, some of the coolest projects on Kickstarter have come out of existing Makerspaces, like the Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, Massachusetts. Makers at the Artisan's Asylum created the 3Doodler, which raised $2.3 million from 26,457 backers and is now available in the MoMA Design Store, as a tool for other makers to create more new things!

We hope today’s news will be a rallying cry for builders, hackers, developers and makers everywhere, and we couldn’t be more excited to work with President Obama to support a #NationofMakers.

Meet the Team: Jes and David P.

We thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. So every week, a couple members of the Kickstarter team will be saying hello, and picking out a few projects — past or present, successful or not — that they're especially fond of. (They will also be posing for GIFs. The GIFs are mandatory.)

This week, meet Jes and David P.:

Jes Nelson (@calamity_jan)

Job: "I answer questions and offer advice about the site for both backers and project creators. (I also sit across from Alfie. He's awesome. You will meet him soon.)"

  • Food Pyramid Investigates the Continental United States — "Food Pyramid pulls influence from 70s German electronica, 80s Chicago house, and acoustic ecological investigations (little to do with health class). They also hail from Minneapolis, MN (my home), and were the first to introduce to me Kickstarter through this project! Enjoy their music here."
  • Lucky Luna — "Lucky Luna is quickly becoming my favorite dinner spot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn! The creators, Howard Jang, Ken Ho, and Marisa Cadena, combine Mexican and Taiwanese street style food, classic cocktails, along with chill and attentive service — I couldn’t ask for more. Request a 'Rainy Day' from the bartender, and order everything on the menu. This place rules."
  • Northern Spark — "Northern Spark is an all night arts festival that encourages consideration of what’s possible in public space. Spanning across the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St.Paul), this is the one night out of the year when these neighboring cities really feel connected. In regards to the visual landscape of the event, I like to describe it as a State Fair for multimedia enthusiasts — there are projectors everywhere."

David Peter (@davidnoob)

Job: "I engineer and maintain stuff for backers, creators, and fellow employees." (Note: Good job hiding your whole "narwhal supervillain" hobby, David.)

  • Superhot — "What an amazing game concept. I haven't owned a mouse for three years, but I think I'm getting one for this."
  • Reading Rainbow — "It's for an incredible cause with one of the greatest project videos I've ever seen. LeVar Burton (through Geordi La Forge) is a childhood role model, and when he visited the office, I got to shake his hand and eat popsicles and talk about books. I think I was teary."
  • Schmuck, a Graphic Novel — "I love stories about life. Unfortunately, this creator got diagnosed with leukemia, the same cancer my father has. Life. I'm anxiously awaiting his convalescence."
  • Hello Ruby — "I think it's important to get people excited about programming at an early age. And she posts such incredibly detailed posts about how much she's learning from doing this — it's great!"

Jenny Drumgoole Wants to Wish You a Happy Trash Day

The first-ever Happy Trash Day was a thank-you for multimedia artist Jenny Drumgoole's local trash collectors. Since that day, Drumgoole has been holding regular surprise parties for the sanitation workers of her home city of Philadelphia. 

This is what happens: dressed as her character, Soxx, Jenny picks a location, finds out when the sanitation workers arrive, and sets up her party (complete with snacks, party favors, and her own colorful clown outfits), and waits for the guests of honor to arrive. 

There's also an awareness-raising element: the parties that she puts on are not only a pick-me-up for the trash crews that come down the city's streets, but also a way to educate citizens about the situation of the sanitation workers of Philly, who haven't had a raise in five years. The project she's running will help her to throw a month-long blitz of parties. 

We talked to Jenny about Happy Trash Day, how it came to be, and why it continues to happen. 

How did the first Happy Trash Day come together? 

Happy Trash Day started as just a little thank you for my trash collectors when I asked them to film a couple of scenes with me as this character I’ve used in previous videos, “Soxx." I asked the trash crew as they came down my street to throw me a bag of garbage and lift me up. They were great. It was really hot that day and it was towards the end of their shift. I was not expecting them to oblige the way they did. 

So the following week, I decided that I/Soxx should thank them. I put up balloons and streamers and modified a happy birthday banner to read “Happy Trash Day." Then I just waited for them to come. People who passed would stop to take pictures and ask what I was doing. I said “It’s trash day and I’m here to thank the trash collectors”.

When the trash crew finally came, I found out the crew that came the week before was not my regular crew. So when my regular guys drove down the block for this first official Happy Trash Day, they didn’t know what was going on (they just saw a clown jumping and waving them down in the street). Once they saw the signs and balloons they started laughing and said that no one back at the sanitation yard would believe that anyone would do this, so they wanted to take pictures. They also took the balloons and the Happy Trash Day banner for the truck. From then on, I just wanted to make the parties bigger and more memorable. 

Once I was several months into doing the parties, I found out that the sanitation workers haven’t had a raise or a contract for more than five years. So Happy Trash Day has become both a special thank you for the trash collectors and a way to help push towards a contract resolution…while having the most fun possible. 

What's the best reaction that you've gotten so far? 

It’s hard to pick one favorite reaction to Happy Trash Day. I’ve done them in several areas throughout the city, so it’s been really nice to meet so many sanitation workers in the city. Everyone’s reaction starts with a bit on confusion, then turns to excitement when I explain that this is a party for them. It’s also nice to see the reaction of people who pass on the street. Neighbors will come out when they see what’s happening and bring more refreshments for the trash collectors. 

I’ve also gotten emails from people in different states (and even in Europe) who want to have their own Happy Trash Day! That’s pretty great. 

Speaking of reactions, what's the public reaction been like to the advocacy element of the project?

Everyone has been really supportive of Happy Trash Day so far. It’s hard not to like a happy clown on the street having a surprise thank you party. It’s a fun, spirited (and slightly bizarre) atmosphere at Happy Trash Day. I set up all of the decorations between everyone’s garbage that has been put out. I’ve found that most people in Philly don’t know that the sanitation workers have continued to work without a raise or a contract. It has become a kind of subversive way for me to rally people to do right by people who work so hard for the people of Philly. 

I have been going to Philadelphia’s City Council and speaking during the public comment portion of City Council meetings about Happy Trash Day (as Soxx of course). At first I thought they were going to have security escort me out, but thankfully they didn’t. 

I’ve even had meetings with Councilmen where we have talked about an official resolution marking an official Happy Trash Day in Philadelphia. But I’ve decided that there can’t be a true Happy Trash Day until the sanitation workers get their contract resolved. So that’s got to happen first. 

What influences you in general and with this project? 

Filmmakers and artists like George Kuchar, John Waters and Michael Moore. I’m also inspired by really epic ’80s bands like AC/DC. I also am really influenced by my super talented friends who have helped me with the project and make their own work. 

What else are you working on? 

Well, the project proposed for this Kickstarter is going to take a lot of my time over the next several months. There are going to be some really fun themed trash days (you pick the theme if you donate $100!)…one donor has already sponsored a Robot themed trash day! But I am also working on a really exciting collaborative video series with my husband and two friends called “Soxx’s Power Hour." 

We just finished shooting the first episode (there’s singing, dancing and some pretty epic music) and are already planning the second episode. We’re shooting it all around Philly. The first episode should be done in about two weeks, so look out for it!