Kickstarter Picks: Block Parties, George Plimpton and… Phytoremediation

Kickstarter is a Lower East Side-based startup that helps creative people “crowd-fund” their projects.

MetroFocus regularly highlights local projects that we feel make the best use of this platform and have the potential to leave a lasting impression on the New York area.

Block Party: Soul of Summer

“Popping,” 2009, gelatin silver print 16x20Crown Street and Bedford Ave Brooklyn Block Party. Photo by Anderson Zaca.

The pitch: Brazilian-born, Brooklyn-based photographer Anderson Zaca has spent five years documenting a quintessentially New York phenomenon: The block party.

“In NYC thousands of block parties happen every year. Yet, it is hard to find a thousand words written about it. My block party photos will give you a thousand words per picture,”  Zaca said in an email.

He said he’s shot over 200 parties since he began the project and plans to shoot an additional 50 events this summer. If he reaches his fundraising goal, he will self-publish “Block Party: Soul of Summer,” the first photography book on the topic.

Fundraising goal: $12,000 by Aug. 28.

George Plimpton's life is the stuff of legend. Photo courtesy of Tom Bean.


The pitch: George Plimpton’s life is the stuff of legend. Best known for founding The Paris Review, he also quarterbacked for the Detroit Lions, pitched to Willie Mays, photographed Playboy models, acted in Hollywood films and threw some of the best parties in New York history.

“This is a feel-good film. The documentary equivalent of a comedy,” said filmmaker Tom Bean. “Kickstarter has offered us this amazing, grassroots-y way to bring people into the world of the film before it’s even released.”

Bean said it took him and co-filmmaker Luke Poling over eight months to sift through Plimpton’s personal archives, which included film reels, video cassettes and memorabilia. Bean and Poling have completed production on Plimpton! and will use the funds from a successful Kickstarter campaign to license additional footage they need to finish the film.

Fundraising goal: $25,000 by Aug. 26.

Field Guide to Phytoremediation

According to the Department of City Planning, there are 11,000 acres of empty lots in the five boroughs. Flickr/d.p.Hetteix

The pitch: According to the Department of City Planning, vacant lots in New York City account for approximately 11,000 acres of underutilized property, an amount of space that is about the size of Manhattan. Since 2010, youarethecity, a design practice involved with urban development, has advocated phytoremediation, a low-cost, environmentally friendly process to remove toxins from undeveloped sites using plants. Their goal is to print and distribute 2,000 copies of the “Field Guide to Phytoremediation,” a do-it-yourself handbook for communities.

Fundraising goal: $4,000 by July 30.

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