Help Fund a Travel Show that’s Actually Good
If you know anyone who works in the creative sphere—writers, photographers, designers, filmmakers, artists, what have you—you’ve probably heard of Kickstarter. In case you haven’t, here’s the deal: Kickstarter is what’s called a crowd-funding site. People post projects that they’d like to work on, with a proposed budget for the project, and then set about getting the public to fund it, one small donation at a time. Donations range from a few dollars up to a few thousand, and project budgets are on a similar scale.
One travel writer I know, Charyn Pfeuffer, recently raised over $20,000 to fund her “Global Citizen Project“: Pfeuffer plans to spend a year traveling the world and volunteering in a different country each month. The best Kickstarter projects are those that involve funders in the process somehow. In Pfeuffer’s case, funders helped her choose where she should go and which organizations she should volunteer with. She’s also keeping funders up-to-date on her progress as she gets the trip and volunteer gigs set.
Now Matt Gross, the New York Times’s “Frugal Traveler” columnist is using Kickstarter to help launch his travel show “Strangers in Strange Lands.” Like most fans of good TV, I change the channel when I see what passes for travel shows nowadays, which is why I’m excited to see Gross, who is excellent, going in this direction. I’ve always wondered why these shows don’t get actually good travel writers to host and help develop the programming. Instead they have viewers tagging along with Bridget, the 3rd-best Girl Next Door.
The cool thing about Gross’s project is that he intends not just to go to exotic locales and eat crazy food or bungee jump, but to find “strangers” in each place who have managed to make a strange land their home. An Orthodox rabbi ministering to Jews in Cancun, for example, or a young woman sailing through the South Pacific in search of the next great wave. In the course of his expeditions, Gross plans to do what he usually does when reporting a story: make fast friends with his subjects. In doing so, he’ll reveal not only what makes each place unique and interesting, but what role it plays in each person’s story.
Smartly, Gross has also kept his budget reasonable. While there are those on Kickstarter who are hoping to just raise enough money to take a year off, he’s looking to raise $2500 to fund the production of a promo reel to shop around to various channels. And he’s got a track record that shows he can probably make it happen. The guy quit his office job to become a travel writer and six months later was writing for the New York Times. I, for one, will happily fork over $10 if it means the Travel Channel might pick up a show that’s actually good for once.
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