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The Bly Project presents: American Dreamers's video poster

We're driving from Rochester, NY to Austin, TX, telling stories of people pursuing American dreams. Read more

Rochester, NY Journalism
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pledged of $3,750 goal
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This project was successfully funded on October 3, 2012.

We're driving from Rochester, NY to Austin, TX, telling stories of people pursuing American dreams.

Rochester, NY Journalism
Share this project

About this project

The Bly Project: travel + stories for social good

We are three 20-something journalists striving to sustain and innovate travel journalism and immersion journalism. Through these forms, journalists have created and promoted culture, societal change and community for decades. With our theme-focused travel and immersion projects, we hope to create public discussions and personal reflections that spark social good.

We use video, audio, photo, long form writing, blogging, graphics and social media to report.

Our current immersion: American Dreamers

Three weeks, two questions, one dream.

From September 14 - October 3, we’re driving from Rochester, NY to Austin, TX. Along the way, we’re asking people two questions:

“What is your version of the American dream?”
“What are you doing to pursue that dream?”

Seven cities in three weeks. Every day, a new story. Every day, a new dream.

Team Bly

Leah Stacy: Web Content Editor
You remember the red-haired girl from Peanuts? That would be Leah, if the red-haired girl made Charlie Brown feel good about himself by writing an in-depth, sincere article about his story and struggles. She’s been a journalist for five years, specializing in the arts, social media, and macaroni and cheese (really). Everything that goes up on our site goes through Leah. Her skill and professionalism are only surpassed by her love for stories and the people in them. She and Pete have been dating for four years (in case you wanted to get personal for a second).

Photo by friend of Bly, Jenna Kepich
Photo by friend of Bly, Jenna Kepich

Pete Wayner: Multimedia Editor
Pete grew up between a forest and a cornfield. He learned how to change a spark plug, clean a rifle, and whistle “A Night in Tunisia” before he learned how to write a text message. (Turns out those survival skills came in handy when he covered the military beat during journalism school.) He’s become a bit more savvy since then, particularly when it comes to video. He edits for hours on end, and nothing makes him happier (except Leah and Kevin). He will be responsible for many of the videos and photos along the trip.

Kevin Kennedy: Arts & Culture Editor
Kevin quit his job to join The Bly Project. Big Dan Kennedy and his wife, Mary, are his parents. Big Dan is renowned for having the most fantastic belt buckles in Bergen, NY, where Kevin and Leah both grew up. Mary has a reputation as a ruthless Scrabble shark. Put these two legends together, and there’s Kevin. He’s part blogger, part videographer, and part snapping turtle, and has been Pete and Leah’s mutual best friend for three years. Kevin constantly sets his azure eyes on trends and pop culture. He owns Bly’s Jeep Patriot, which he named Pecos Bill.

Why Kickstarter?

Since January, we’ve raised over $2,500 for this project through a small grant, competition prize and freelance assignments. These funds will cover our travel and living costs. 

But to make the final product happen, we need your help.

Your donations will subsidize the cost of equipment and software needed to produce the American Dreamers stories (and make future Bly stories possible). At the end of the immersion, we'll produce a website chock full of stories, videos, audio and photos: a documentary, if you will.

Our funding goal is so specific because we've taken the time to figure out our exact budget. Kevin suggested buying a hamster for company, and was promptly removed from the budget team.

Please feel free to shoot us an email if you would like to see our complete budget.

Other ways you can help

We embark on Friday, September 14. From there, we have seven anchor points:

- Rochester, New York
- Southbury, Connecticut
- Brooklyn, New York
- Washington, D.C.
- Roanoke, Virginia
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Austin, Texas

In each city, we are using local contacts (and your emails, comments, tweets, posts, and requests) to produce multimedia packages showcasing American dreams in action.

Those packages will be edited and released when we get back to Rochester, but along the way we’re producing and posting smaller stories everywhere we go.

While many of the packages are already planned, we want to hear from you about people living out their version of the American dream. (If you’re on our route, we’d love to meet you!)

Thank you for your help. The best part of this project is meeting the people, like you. You’re helping us achieve our dream - to tell yours.

Connect with us: | Twitter: @theblyproject, #Bly

Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this page were taken by The Bly Project
Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this page were taken by The Bly Project


  • That's the question of the day... week... month!

    In 1887, a 23-year-old newspaper reporter pretended to be insane so she could experience life in a 19th century women's asylum. The reporter's name was Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, and she used the pen name "Nellie Bly."

    Bly's story, "Ten Days in a Mad-House," earned $1 million in reforms for New York City's mentally impaired. Her firsthand account - a snapshot of the sights, sounds and smells of mistreatment - captured the attention of readers. She was the first true immersion journalist.

    Bly went on to write an in-depth piece of travel writing as well, "Around the World in 72 Days," her personal attempt to prove Jules Verne's fictional "Around the World in 80 Days" could be done in less than 80 days.

    She went on to become a successful entrepreneur later in life.

    Nellie Bly is part of the first generation of journalists: one that believed they could change the world and then, did it. And Team Bly? Well, we believe the same is true nearly 150 years later.

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    7 backers

    For this pledge, you will be immortalized among the names of donors on our website. (It's like being on the Declaration of Independence, with a flashier color palette.) You achieve further fame by being added to the credits in one of the videos we produce on the trip. An asset to any IMDB page. And bonus! You also get a sticker with our logo.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    31 backers

    You get the mention, the credits, the sticker, and then (if you can stand it), you also get a t-shirt with our logo on it. Kevin and Pete blow kisses onto each one. Kiss-free options available.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $30 or more

    4 backers

    Bargain town! You get the mention, credits, sticker, AND an 8 x 10 high quality print of your favorite photo we post during the trip. You choose which one you want (including Instagram photos) and we send it to you.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    24 backers

    This level lands Bly in your living room: you get a copy of our coffee table book, "American Dreamers," which will include quotes, photos, long form stories and behind-the-scenes snippets from the trip. (Embarrassing and/or hilarious moments guaranteed.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    5 backers

    Now, it gets real. At this level, we tell your American dream. You can either produce it yourself and we'll edit and post it, or if you're within four hours of our location, we'll come to you and produce it, start to finish. Get involved!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    We want to meet you. More than that - we want to take you out on the town. At this level, if you're within four hours of our current or a future location, we'll pick you up in Pecos Bill and have a massive night of fun, swapping stories and slapping backs. A night to remember, indeed.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    The Bly Project is at your service. Literally - we want to document your big night. Could be video, photos, or written piece - whatever suits your fancy. The night is up to you. A fancy party, a night out, family photo session, engagement photos, your wedding (seriously, we do that). This goes for anyone within four hours of current or future locations, and travel costs beyond that are negotiable.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $3,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    You are THE sponsor for The Bly Project presents: American Dreamers. Whenever we do a package, your name or the name of your business or organization will be there too, like a patron saint holding us in your hands.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (21 days)