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We aim to create beautiful carved signs and the first books ever printed in some of the endangered indigenous languages in Bangladesh.
We aim to create beautiful carved signs and the first books ever printed in some of the endangered indigenous languages in Bangladesh.
266 backers pledged $11,051 to help bring this project to life.

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Great news, and heartfelt thanks

This afternoon, as I was walking through downtown Seattle after being interviewed about the Alphabets for a Globally Speaking podcast, the news came through: we had reached our Endangered Alphabets Games fundraising goal.

So far almost a hundred people have backed this campaign, one of whom (I’m not sure who) became the 1,111th person to support the Alphabets in a Kickstarter.

I would love to reach a stretch goal of $8,000, which would allow me to create a prototype of the second Alphabets word game and send it out to be field tested. Thanks to your commitment and generosity we still have a couple of days left—what do you say? You know the link:

For now, I just say thanks, and how much I’m looking forward to working on these games.


Racing toward the Endangered Alphabets Games goal

As the deadline approaches at, people have been responding to the urgency with generosity that leaves me pretty much speechless.

The goal is now only a few hundred dollars away. Another 24 hours could see us to our $7,500 goal.

If your support races beyond that, we start funding the next game, or games. It’s an unbelievably exciting time. Over the past few days I’ve been consulting with a variety of people in the game field, and I look forward to including you (if you wish) in the planning, creation and testing process.

I can’t wait.


The reward to end all rewards

The Tibetan Blessing Table at the Vermont Fine Furniture show
The Tibetan Blessing Table at the Vermont Fine Furniture show


With less than a week to go in our Kickstarter campaign at (, things are getting tense, so I’m offering two final new rewards.

First, the reward to end all rewards, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever had a hand in making: the Tibetan Blessing Table.

This circular cherry dining table, slightly under 5 feet in diameter, was made by cabinetmaker Tim Peters, and I carved into the top the phrase “Graceful kindness” in Tibetan six times in a circular band, so it repeats like a blessing, or a mantra. (The Tibetan script is based on a design by world-renowned Buddhist calligrapher Tashi Mannox.) The table has an unusual organic quality: it is assembled without nails, screws, or glue. The Tibetan Blessing Table is offered to a single U.S. backer at the level of $5,000, which includes shipping.

And as not everyone has $5,000 to spend, here is the other new reward, of particular interest to games players and designers: anyone who backs us at the $25 level (or above) will be automatically included in all the discussions, over the next year, that shape and design the next three generations of Endangered Alphabets games. You can choose to opt out at any time, but for as long as you choose to participate, your voice will be heard.

Please support us and/or share!



Any suggestions or advice?

At this point in a Kickstarter campaign I try to remember to ask your advice: what else could I be doing?

What other rewards might I offer to help in the last few days as the urgency rises?

Who else might be interested that I should contact?

The campaign is at I'd love your support, of course, but I'd also really like to hear your thoughts.



Making changes, making history

Dear friends and faithful supporters of the Endangered Alphabets:

Something remarkable is happening. Actually, several somethings.

On the most immediate level, the Endangered Alphabets Project is doing things that have never been done before. Using artwork to draw attention to the loss of traditional cultures all over the world. Creating learning materials to help prevent that erosion and loss. Writing, illustrating and publishing the world's first six-language children's picture-book dictionary in endangered languages. And now...

...designing games that kids (and adults) can play using their own traditional languages, spoken and written.

The Endangered Alphabets Game tile carvings
The Endangered Alphabets Game tile carvings

That's the focus of our current Kickstarter campaign, at And of course I'd like you to go there and pledge support, but first, the more important news:

All these Alphabets activities are having an effect. I recently displayed the game tile carvings in Barcelona and Paris, and spoke about them to UNESCO, and the enthusiasm and encouragement were wall-to-wall. Translators and linguists, game designers and graphic designers, calligraphers and programmers and businesspeople--I've never seen such positive response.

Of course: to revive languages, you have to start with children, and to involve children, you have to create games.

The Endangered Alphabets Game campaign is likewise drawing approval and support at an unprecedented rate. Not only are people donating, but they are blogging about it, posting on Facebook, setting up podcasts. I'm being contacted by people all over the world who want to collaborate in the act of creating games that will teach traditional writing systems.

This may be the most important and powerful Endangered Alphabets activity yet. Please support us, and please spread the word. I was recently discussing the subject with a global official in this field, and she used the phrase "dying languages." I was horrified. "I don't think in terms of `dying languages,'" I told her. "I think in terms of what we can do to revive them and the cultures that use them."

And games are what we are going to do next.

As part of this surge of interest and energy, I'm adding a new reward to the campaign: my carving of the Javanese character that announces the opening of a poem, carved in golden-flecked sapele wood. One of the great discoveries of working on the Alphabets has been the ways in which other writing systems encompass symbols we've apparently never even considered, or which denote ideas or insights we don't see, or don't see as important. The notion of a piece of--what, punctuation?--that invites us to read a text with a different frame of mind! I find that fabulous.

The Javanese know how to respect a poem.
The Javanese know how to respect a poem.

That link again:

Please help us fund not just the first game, but the first series of games--the games that show others that languages are not dying, but waiting to be revived.

Thanks so much.