KanStarter: Crowd-funding for Kansas towns

What do a putt-putt golf course, an opera house, a trail archway, and a grocery store have in common? They’re all pilot projects for KanStarter.

Crowd-funding on websites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter have become popular, and now you can help support a home-town project via KanStarter. Donate money, and occasionally supplies, to help make small town and rural destinations shine.

Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation came up with the idea, inspired by the idea that many people in small towns didn’t think they had anything worth including in a guidebook, and tax credits helped get the site up and running.

The project launched as a part of the We Kan Network, a nonprofit that works with the Kansas Sampler Foundation to “preserve and sustain rural culture.”

The minimum donation is $1 and there are time limits to the project funding. There are four pilot projects currently up for funding, and projects can be submitted for consideration on the website.

The four pilot projects are the Opera House Revival: Let It Sing! in Wilson, the South Owl Lake Trail Archway in Yates Center (check out the video below), Rediscover Pluto Putt-Putt in Burdett, and Help Get Dirt for a grocery store in Plains.

The idea that Kansas, and particularly rural Kansas, doesn’t have much in the way of tourism or attractions is one that I’ve frequently come across in work on the trail guide and as I’ve traveled throughout the state and throughout the country. There may not be the State of Liberty or a soaring mountain range, but there is history, art, culture, and natural beauty that is worth getting to know.

And it was touching to see that two of the projects currently up for funding on KanStarter are in small towns that I know because I have family who lived there. They’re places I visited frequently as a child and still go to today. They are places worth being proud of and projects worth supporting.