We hit our goal yesterday thanks to all of you! You facebooked, tweeted, needled your pals, and most of all, pledged. THANKS!!! And some of you are still pledging - which is awesome because every dollar will go to this project to make it the best we can. If our number continues to rise, we'll apply all the extra to super-greening this ride with alternative fuel systems and get more tools to make classes even easier to do wherever we park. Thanks for keeping it coming... it ALL helps.
Surfboard Building as a Larger Life-Lesson
We’ve thought a lot about the incredible feeling one gets from hand-crafting something as personal as his or her own surfboard. Building boards the way we do also keeps us thinking about sustainability as it relates to the choices we all make. And when we think about how surf culture relates very little of that to youth, we feel the call of a new mission. That’s because much of what the “industry” communicates to young people either skips over what we’re all starting to understand about our place in the world of consumption, or flat-out pushes us to act in opposition to values we care more and more about.
And while there is a tight, psyched community of surfers in New England that we are proud to be a part of, we often wonder if we are doing enough to share what we do with surfers elsewhere. Fact is, people often seem mildly shocked that we would start a surfboard building business on a farm in Maine, so far away from the heart of surfing in North America – the west coast. But for whatever reason – up ‘til now - we’ve been happy to hole up in our warm, cedar-scented shop and just enthusiastically crank away in our own little isolation bubble.
But even from here in Maine, we’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of people to gain access to the rewards that come from building their own boards. We’ve had kids as young as 12 years old discover these amazing rewards, and it’s not too much to say that many of the adults also learned something about themselves. Astoundingly, some have even changed the course of their lives as a result.
Our Kickstarter Project
We asked ourselves “how can we share the rewards and the fun and the ethos of what we do with more people – especially young people?” Well, mile-for-mile, there are more surfers on the west coast than anywhere else in the US. What we need is a full, mobile classroom that will remove most of the logistical obstacles that prevent us from connecting with more of you.
So our plan is this: with your help, we’ll get a truck we can sleep in, and a utility trailer large enough to fit piles of tools, shaping stands, and gear, and we’ll hit the road out west. Your funding assistance will also help outfit this rig - for instance, we'll need some mobile shop-tools, and other stuff classes require. If things work out, we'll set this up to burn alternative fuels as well.
Then, we’ll run classes right out of the back. We’ll stop at beach parking lots up and down the PCH (and beyond) where we’ll break out a stand and have impromptu board building in the bright sunshine, sharing what we know with whoever comes by. We’ll hold scheduled classes in antique firehouses, on piers, at the beach, at schools and surf clubs – anywhere we please. And we’ll teach all sorts of classes building surfboards or paipos or handplanes. We'll make a special effort to reach out to youth, and to share the values that have driven our small company forward. And for those that want to give us the big-boost (see the rewards at right), we’ll even do a special class in your driveway - just for you and up to three of your friends. Ahem... we’ll also be sleeping in your driveway, but nothing’s perfect.
How We’ll Do It
Lucky for us, our partner Allen (out in LA) is a truck-customizing guru, and he’ll be seeing that our rig is tricked out in proper fashion so that we can roll from Seattle to Baja and never have to stay in a flea-bag motel again. With luck, we'll raise enough to outfit this rig to use alternative fuels. And if there are any funds raised beyond our goal? They’ll help fund future road trips and cover other related costs to guarantee we can roll on the west coast and the east.
With the enthusiastic reception of the three workshops we’ve done in the west (Portland OR, Encinitas, San Clemente and San Fran – see class testimonials below) we’ve become convinced that we’re duty-bound to help more people to learn about building a more sustainable surfboard. Sharing the art of building your own board is an act that reconnects surfers to their roots – nearly everyone built their own board before the “surf industry” happened. Give us a boost, and we’ll start rollin’ as soon as the rig is road-worthy. And thanks!
Why Support Our Project?
It’s true that Grain is probably the world’s most experienced builder of hollow wood boards. We’ve developed a tremendously unique method of construction – mimicked by others, but nowhere executed with the expertise born of living and breathing wood surfboards as we have done for the last eight years.
You might think that, with all that experience under our belt – advanced design, pioneering and refining construction methods, teaching and sharing – we’d have built a business with enough growth and profitability that we wouldn’t need to reach out to the Kickstarter community. But the truth is that a business built on values first and profitability second doesn’t always have the capital to expand into the areas that effectively serve the values at its foundation. Our ability to be more available to more surfers serves those values – particularly that of educating others to the skills that lie hidden within them and the rewards of crafting a smooth, glossy work of sustainable, functional art.
Who Are We?
Grain Surfboards builds wood surfboards on the coast of Maine. But that’s just part of what we do… with classes and kits, we share our methods of using locally grown, sustainable yield wood and organic, zero-VOC resins to build communities around our passion for creating something of beauty, more sustainably built, and with the kind of longevity that keeps products from ever seeing a landfill. Because we’re building - and believe in - the rewards and effectiveness of values-based business, we look for opportunities to share our community-centered model with students and thought-leaders in the business community as well. These values have led us to develop product lines that are life-cycle conscious; that means using resins made of re-purposed bio-waste, finding uses for the off-cuts of our board building in The Offcuts Initiative - for skate-decks, handplanes and other surfcraft - and composting what’s left over.
But at bottom, Grain is a collective of surf-stoked staff who are motivated by our values. An integral part of Grain is the amazing community of customers and friends who believe in what we’re doing and the way we do it. We’re grateful to all of you who will help us to spread the word by supporting our Kickstarter project and passing it along to your friends as well. And thanks!
Not a Surfer?
Though most of our community are surfers, we’ve also taught lots of non-surfers too, and we’re supported by all sorts of people who can see the larger picture of what a business like ours models and what it means in a larger context. A context that includes thoughtful design not only of products, but also of enterprises that care about the world they’re living in as much as anything else. If you don’t surf, your support is as much about contributing to the growth of a new consciousness in our modern culture that uses the appealing world of surfboards and surfing to teach about values in life and in business.
What People Say...
"You guys have managed to create a forum of innovation where people, ideas, and talents collide dangerously. Grain Surfboards, and the people behind it, are involved in an ecosystem of thought and action." Jeff
"You don't know this, but after taking the class, I quit the sales job I hated, fired my therapist, downgraded my personal hygiene habits, and enrolled in art school. All because of my experience at the Grain class. It literally changed my life." Mark
"I must confess, I always thought my enjoyment would come more from the knowledge that I made it, rather than from it's performance... dunno why. So great to find out it's one of the best boards I have ever owned. So walking back up the beach and getting compliments on the board just makes it so much better. I hope you guys are still doing this in 15 plus years so I can bring my kids to build some boards." Brent
"It was an amazing week and not only because we were building wooden boards but because of the people! You guys are responsible for making it magical! It was awesome!" Natalie
"Working with you was an awesome experience. The whole drive home I couldn't stop smelling that white cedar! You guys have got such a good thing going and I was stoked to be a part of it for even just a weekend. Once I get it glassed and finished I'll make sure to get some sweet shots to send to you guys." John
"As for feedback about the course... I seriously have no criticism about any part of it. You were perfect teachers... you allowed us to make the journey ourselves without interfering too much, which allowed us to make our own mistakes and figure out ways to fix whatever the issue was. When we needed your guidance, you were right there. In my book, there's no better teacher than that." Zen
More About Rewards
We've got a lot of great rewards to thank you for your help - some of them are stuff we wear, some from our store, some just fun stuff we're making 'specially for the Kickstarter Community, and some - the West Coaster Specials - will be delivered to you personally with the truck & trailer you help us to get. Here's a quick summary with some pics and a few links to more info about them (see the list at right for shipping and other details). Not all of them are pictured below, but here's a taste - grouped by the support amount:
$50 or less: There's six rewards, including:
- $10 Pug-Foldable
- $20 Cedar "Rad Ride" Car Fresh
- $25 Cedar Scrap Box-O-Kindling
- $40 Grain Logo T-shirt
- $40 100% Recycled Trucker Hat
- $50 Solid-wood Hand-Plane Kit
- A set of 3 posters from Joe Hodnicki
$70 to $500: We've got eight for you including:
- $70 Grain Hoodie
- $150 Free Hand-Plane Workshop (out west)
- $175 Bamboo iPhone Case
- $175 Strapped Hand-Plane
- $250 Personal Surf Demo (your west-coast break)
- $300 Grain Skateboard, Complete
- $400 Nick LaVecchia Framed Print
- $500 Sea Sled Mini (Body Board)
For the players: There's few here you can get your friends to chip in on:
- $950 One-of-a-kind Mini Sea Sled with wood burned art by Randy Gaetano
- $1,000 West-coast Ride-Along (four days)
- $2,200 Free 7-Day Class w/ Surfboard and Food
- $4,000 Paipo-Building Class for Six
- $10,000 Personal Class for Four at Your House (out west)
Risks and challenges
We're lucky to be able to say that we finish just about everything we start. And we're so convinced of the "right-ness" of being able to expand our ability to share with others, that we've already been making plans about how to make the fruits of this project do even more in the coming years than we've described. And though it hinges on the relatively simple task of procuring and customizing a truck and trailer, those two pieces of equipment will be the foundation of some exciting stuff we'll be doing out west in the future.
All that is to say that whatever small obstacles arise during this project, it will definitely get done - and very soon if the Kickstarter community believes in us enough to fund this project. We feel the confidence of our community behind us, for which we are deeply grateful.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)