Project image
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$2,090
pledged of $1,000pledged of $1,000 goal
39
backers
18days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, June 11 2019 4:59 AM UTC +00:00.

$2,090
pledged of $1,000pledged of $1,000 goal
39
backers
18days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, June 11 2019 4:59 AM UTC +00:00.

About

A first-ring suburb like West St. Paul, Minnesota, rarely makes the news. And when it does, there aren't always clear answers. It's hard to know what's going on in our community.

  • Will we ever get a sidewalk on that street?
  • When is that new restaurant opening?
  • Why are medians a good idea?

I'm a professional writer and in my spare time I've been writing about West St. Paul. I've been answering questions:

I want to continue informing and helping folks in West St. Paul, so I'm launching a new blog: The West St. Paul Reader.

Will you help make it happen? 

We shared details for West St. Paul Days events, including the parade, and talked about the history of the event.
We shared details for West St. Paul Days events, including the parade, and talked about the history of the event.

Here's the Plan

Let's be real: People don't pay for local news. The result is that we're less informed and less engaged. Voter turnout slips and there's less competition in local elections (which can mean stagnation and even corruption).

Local news can literally safeguard our democracy.

If we can keep people informed, they'll be more engaged, and they'll feel connected to the community. 

That's the goal for West St. Paul Reader—to help people feel like they belong.

West St. Paul Reader can answer questions, keep people informed, and share good stories. But only if it has support. 

I've written about West St. Paul on my personal blog, but if it's a stand-alone site I can:

  • Bring in new voices with guest columnists.
  • Share positive stories we might not otherwise hear (like this interview with Garlough teacher Rodrigo Sanchez).
  • Build community around the site and generate ongoing support.

Join the Effort

Back this Kickstarter campaign and help keep West St. Paul informed. Help engage the community. Help connect people to their community.

When you join the team that makes this happen, you'll get rewards:

  •  Founders' Wall - First up, anybody who backs the project at any level will be listed on our 'Founders' Wall,' a page on the site that will list all supporters. It will be a permanent thank you to the folks who got this thing started. (Subject to approval, Mr. I.P. Freely.)
  •  $5 - Postcard - Local West St. Paul artist Carolyn Swiszcz has graciously allowed us to use her artwork on a thank you postcard that will be mailed to all backers at this level.  
West St. Paul sign by Carolyn Swiszcz (Click the image to see a full-size version)
West St. Paul sign by Carolyn Swiszcz (Click the image to see a full-size version)
  •  $10 - Button - Get an exclusive supporter button, created by Button Works right here in West St. Paul.
  •  $25 - Coupon Book - We've brought together 15 local businesses to offer this coupon book with a value of over $350. Support local businesses, support a good cause, and get a deal too!
  •  $75 - Mayor Meetup - Boost your West St. Paul pride by hanging out with the mayor. We'll gather with a limited group in the back room at Amore to connect with Mayor Dave Napier. Ask questions, have some snacks, learn what's going on in West St. Paul. This reward is limited to 10 people.
  •  $250 - Lunch & Tour With the Editor - Join the editor for lunch at a West St. Paul establishment of your choice and we'll talk content ideas, potential projects, and all things West St. Paul. We'll also take a tour of West St. Paul, visiting some of the highlights—including historical sites, oddities, and overlooked treasures. As a bonus, we'll throw in a subscription to Zebra Cat Zebra, the bi-monthly zine by local artist Carolyn Swiszcz. This reward is limited to six people.
A look at past editions of Zebra Cat Zebra by Carolyn Swiszcz
A look at past editions of Zebra Cat Zebra by Carolyn Swiszcz
  •  $300 - Sponsor the Blog - For businesses and organizations we're offering a sponsorship opportunity—banner ads and a sponsored blog post.
  •  $500 - Carolyn Swiszcz Painting - Own a piece of West St. Paul with local artist Carolyn Swiszcz's brand new, original painting of Granny Donuts. Plus, get a $100 gift certificate toward framing from Picture Perfect Art & Frame. This reward can only go to one lucky person, so don't hesitate.  (And it's gone. Sorry.)
"Granny Donuts Again #1" by Carolyn Swiszcz (Click the image to see a full-size version.)
"Granny Donuts Again #1" by Carolyn Swiszcz (Click the image to see a full-size version.)

(For most of the rewards, you'll get the lower tier rewards as well. So if you back at the Coupon Book level, you'll also get the button and postcard. For each reward listing I've noted which things you get. Due to the limited nature of the Mayor Meetup, not all higher level tiers will get access to that.)

Stretch Goals

The initial goal is $1,000 (DONE!) and I'll launch the site when we hit that goal, but if we can hit these stretch goals we can unlock some extras:

  •  DONE $1,500 - Logo Design: I'll hire a local designer to create a professional logo for the site.
  •  DONE $2,000 - Email Newsletter: I'll commit to a monthly email newsletter for the site.
  •  $3,000 - Guest Columnists: I want to include other local voices on the site, but I also think it's important to pay them. If we hit this level, I can hire local folks to write guest posts every other month. Those guest columnists will include local writer Katie Dohman (she's written for Teen Vogue, Minnesota Parent, Minnesota Monthly, and more) and local artist Carolyn Swiszcz.
  •  $4,000 - Social Media: I want to have social media channels, but if we hit this goal I'll be able to commit to regular social media updates.
  •  $5,000 - Weekly Content: I haven't made any commitments to a publishing schedule, but if we hit this goal I'll commit to posting at least something every week. 
  •  $7,500 - Custom Web Design: I can pay for some custom features and design improvements.
  •  $10,000 - Launch Party: We'll throw a launch party for all our backers.

I have a lot of ideas for more things we can do, but honestly, I don't know what kind of support is out there. If we get some traction, I'll consider adding more. I reserve the right to add/remove/tweak the stretch goals before we hit them—but once we hit one of these goals, I'll commit to it.

If We're Successful

If we can meet the goal we'll have a dedicated source of info for what's happening in West St. Paul. You'll have a place that can help explain complicated issues, explore stats and trends, bring interesting history to light, celebrate our community, and more—all in a sustainable, community-empowered way.

You'll know what's happening in your community and feel like you belong. (Can you feel the West St. Paul pride?) 

We interviewed Garlough teacher Rodrigo Sanchez, who attended Garlough as a fourth grader and is now back as a third grade teacher.
We interviewed Garlough teacher Rodrigo Sanchez, who attended Garlough as a fourth grader and is now back as a third grade teacher.

Where the Money Goes

  •  Kickstarter keeps about 10% (they keep 5% and about another 5% goes to credit card processing fees).
  • The government will keep another chunk (death and taxes, right?).
  • A number of the rewards have sunk costs, so if we meet the initial goal and nothing more, most of the money will go to paying for the rewards. 
  • Whatever's left will pay for hosting and domain fees, subscriptions, other expenses, and my time.
  • As we hit stretch goals, a chunk of the money will go toward doing those things (paying designers, writers, coders)—however, more of the money will go to me and allow me to justify spending more time writing for the site.
  • This is a one-time effort, but it will help me figure out what works and plan for future sustainability, which might include membership programs like Patreon. 

Are You Just Cashing In?

Even if this Kickstarter campaign is wildly successful, a big chunk of the income will go to taxes, rewards, and stretch goals. This is also a one-time funding effort, and I hope to continue this site for many years to come. So do the math—I won't be quitting my day job. 

If getting rich were the goal, I wouldn't spend my time on a project like this.

My goal is to be able to justify the time I put into writing about West St. Paul. I hope to get some measure of compensation for the hours and hours of time I put into it. I hope to make that effort a little more worthwhile. 

Aren't You Biased?

Local political coverage is a big part of the value I offer. It's hard to make sense of what happens at city council. Covering those stories brings up issues of bias. While it's not the primary thing I'll cover, I think it's important to be honest about how I'll cover local politics.

West St. Paul Reader will not be a non-biased, journalistic site. Just like my personal blog, West St. Paul Reader will have its own perspective. 

However, I always strive to be fair and honest. In the past I have defended people I disagree with and when critics pointed out errors, I corrected them and acknowledged the mistake.

While people may not always agree with my opinions, I work to lay out the facts and allow people to make up their own minds.

Please join the project, and you can help busy people know what’s going on in West St. Paul.

Risks and challenges

This whole project is an experiment. Let's see what works.

I've been blogging about West St. Paul since 2014, so there's not a lot of risk of me not being up to the challenge. The bigger issue will be if I can increase and maintain my output. Making this an official site instead of just a personal hobby and raising a community of support will serve to keep me accountable.

I'm also attempting to be realistic. I'm not promising daily blog posts. I'm actually not promising any publishing schedule (unless we hit one of the stretch goals). I'll do what I can and try to keep it consistent.

There are minor risks of an act of God, my work situation changing, or being forced to move out of West St. Paul and losing all connection to the project. Those scenarios would all be completely outside my control, so there's not much I can do about them—but let's be honest, they could happen.

The rewards themselves shouldn't be hard to assemble. I've already lined up most of the rewards, including contacting over 75 West St. Paul businesses for the coupon book. Fulfilling rewards should happen by late summer.

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Support

  1. Make a pledge without a reward

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    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Postcard

    Get a hand-written postcard featuring artwork by West St. Paul artist Carolyn Swiszcz.

    Includes:
    • Founders' Wall
    • Postcard
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    Button

    An exclusive supporter button, created by Button Works in West St. Paul.

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    • Postcard
    • Button
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    West St. Paul Coupon Book

    A coupon book featuring at least 15 West St. Paul businesses with a total value of over $350.

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    • WSP Coupon Book
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    Mayor Meetup

    Get invited to an exclusive meetup with West St. Paul Mayor Dave Napier. We'll have a private gathering, enjoy some food, and you can ask the mayor all your pressing West St. Paul questions. The meetup is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 20 at 6 p.m. at Amore, though this is subject to change. (Note: Mayor Napier receives no compensation for appearing at this meetup.)

    Includes:
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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    Lunch & Tour With the Editor

    You'll get an exclusive, one-on-one lunch and West St. Paul tour with the editor of the West St. Paul Reader, Kevin D. Hendricks. You can pitch ideas and pick the editor's brain about what's going on in West St. Paul. We'll take a tour of the city and point out some highlights. You'll also get a subscription to Carolyn Swiszcz's Zebra Cat Zebra. Scheduling is subject to availability and demand. Travel is backers' responsibility.

    Includes:
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    • Mayor Meetup
    • Zebra Cat Zebra subscription
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    Pledge US$ 300 or more About US$ 300

    Sponsor the Blog

    Get a sidebar banner ad on the site for six months and we'll write a sponsored blog post about your organization (interview/profile). The first five to sign up get the first six months; second five get the second six months. (All banners and posts are subject to approval.)

    Includes:
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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    Carolyn Swiszcz Painting

    A one-of-kind original painting of West St. Paul's Granny Donuts by local artist Carolyn Swiszcz. Created in 2019, this 18-inch by 30-inch work is acrylic, screenprint, and monoprint on paper, and is unframed. Plus, get a $100 gift certificate toward framing from Picture Perfect Art & Frame.

    Includes:
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    • Button
    • WSP Coupon Book
    • Mayor Meetup
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