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What if you could meet remarkable small business owners around the country, see what makes them unique, and find what they have in common? Read more

San Diego, CA Journalism
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on September 24, 2010.

What if you could meet remarkable small business owners around the country, see what makes them unique, and find what they have in common?

San Diego, CA Journalism
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About this project

I'm hitting the road again! I'm driving from California to Maine—and back—to meet innovative and unique small business owners wherever they may be, and documenting the trip in video as I go, please check it out, help with gas, lodging, and production costs, and follow along!

Sheepless Nation! Videos and Trip Updates

Why am I doing this?

There's a movement afoot, people are more and more interested in learning about where their food is coming from, and their money is going to. They want to know what's gone into the products they buy, and what they can give back to their communities. Sheepless.org is a place where we bring these stories together, where we find the people at the heart of this movement - the people who run the local independent businesses at the forefront of this evolution. We've written stories about organic restaurants and bike shops and water conservationists in Southern California, we've produced videos about bookstores and urban landscapers and fair-trade coffee distributors in Brooklyn, New York, we've heard from businesses in Oregon and Maryland and Arizona and Florida. Now we want to put a face to these stories, so we're hitting the road on a cross-country roadtrip we're calling Sheepless Nation! States of Independents. We're visiting Texas and Kentucky, Maine and Michigan, looking for innovative, forward-thinking, community-minded small business owners everywhere. Follow along with us at Sheepless.org, let us know about people we can't miss, and get a taste of what it's like to be an entrepreneur in this country right now.

At one point, I was focused on the dangers of mass-culture, the illusion of choice brought on by big-box stores and global fashion companies, but it just felt like beating my head against a wall. Not only was it negative and depressing, I knew there was no way I was ever going to stop these industries alone, and telling others not to shop at these major corporations wasn't helpful unless I offered them a viable alternative. I completed a project to meet the people who made everything I bought for one year, to see if it was possible, called the Consumer Reconnection Project, and started to learn the value of local economies and independent businesses.

So that's where I find myself today. Sheepless.org is a place where we explore ways to engage more deeply with our communities, to find ways to make a living, and make life more livable. It's also a celebration of people and businesses who do in fact, offer us better choices than the big box stores do. And people who find ways to help others make their homes more energy efficient, or use less water, people who work with schools and farms, people who serve healthy foods and promote outdoor lifestyles and bicycling and public transportation. Learning about these businesses changes the way we think about work, about shopping, and about our communities.

We were founded in Brooklyn, NY, where we found a multitude of innovative small businesses to write about. Then I moved to San Diego, CA, and despite massive cultural differences, I discovered a growing interest in local sustainability and many small business owners leading the way. We started receiving submissions from Baltimore, MD and Portand, OR and San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA. Without a doubt, there are people all over this country, either quietly maintaining the businesses that have been in their families for generations, or taking the plunge, leaving (or losing) corporate jobs and believing in their passions and drive to start something new.

We want to put local businesses on the national front page. We want to champion them, help them to grow and connect with their communities, we want folks in Texas to learn from businesses in Michigan and businesses in Boston to light a spark in Seattle.

So, I'm going out to find them. I'm hitting the road in San Diego, heading East through Arizona and Texas and Kentucky up to New England before turning back through the MidWest to Oregon and Northern California. I hope you'll come with me.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    1 backer

    You'll get a big thanks on our website, and a link to see all the footage from the trip (not just the sort snippets everyone sees). It's not oscar-worthy, but should be fun.

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    14 backers

    Wish you were here! I'll send you handwritten postcards form the road, as well as a thanks on the website and access to extended video footage.

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    3 backers

    I'll send you a Sheepless Nation! goodie bag, with a Sheepless teeshirt, souvenirs, and maps and other things I collect on the road. Plus, public thanks, and extended video access.

  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    5 backers Limited (5 left of 10)

    Pit stop! You'll be listed as a supporter, and I'll come visit you over coffee, talk about the buy local/slow food/social enterprise movements and how they relate to your community! (Limited to 3 hrs drive off of the plotted course, sorry Alaskans.)

  • You selected
    Pledge $350 or more

    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    Let's put on a show! I'll come talk to your community group or give a presentation at your shop about the roadtrip, the growing movements towards community-based businesses, and screen our four beautifully produced shopkeeper video profiles.

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Going my way? I'll pick you up and you can drive with me for a couple days, check out the local scenes with me, and meet innovative entrepreneurs. (Limited to not crazy people and the approval of my dog, doesn't include food & lodging, just good company!)

Funding period

- (26 days)