Two weeks ago I launched a Kickstarter campaign to start the West St. Paul Reader. Five days into the campaign we hit the goal and West St. Paul Reader became a reality with the first official post.
I’m super grateful for all the people who have stepped up to help this project. It’s so encouraging to see this kind of support.
But it’s not over.
We’re still working to hit stretch goals and make West St. Paul Reader even better.
Let’s talk about why you should support it.
First up, let’s talk about what you can get out of the deal—the rewards. One of the fun things about any Kickstarter project is all the creative rewards you get for backing the project.
This one is a little different because the campaign is to start a website, so there’s not a product you get as a reward. Everyone gets the rewards of the site being live. But we’ve still got some fun rewards that can make it worth your while:
- West St. Paul coupon book: The most popular reward by far has been our coupon book. You get $350 in value for $25. See the full list of participating West St. Paul businesses and their deals.
- Mayor meetup: West St. Paul Mayor Dave Napier has graciously agreed to attend a private meetup with a select group of backers. This is a fun little insider option to hang out with the mayor. Only seven slots left!
- Lunch & tour: For the big spenders I’m offering a chance to hang out with me—we’ll do lunch and take a tour of West St. Paul highlights. I’m not exactly sure what that tour will be yet, but I’m thinking we’ll hit some lesser known sites, hit a few historic locales and show off some hidden gems of West St. Paul. This one also includes a subscription to Zebra Cat Zebra, the bi-monthly zine of local artist Carolyn Swiszcz. Only six slots left!
- Businesses: For the business community, I’m offering a big sponsorship opportunity. They can get a six-month banner ad and a sponsored post on West St. Paul Reader for $300. That sponsored post can be a great way to connect with vocal locals and boost your SEO. Only nine slots left!
- Local art: For just $5, backers can get a handwritten thank you postcard featuring artwork by Carolyn Swiszcz (known for the famous West St. Paul song).
The Hyperlocal News Angle
While rewards are great, I think the bigger picture angle of offering hyperlocal news is worth considering.
Writing about my community is something that excites me. I’ve been doing it for five years now, slowly getting closer and closer to the idea of launching a dedicated site.
Why a West St. Paul Site?
I kept rejecting the idea of a West St. Paul blog, deciding I didn’t want to commit to another time suck. But as time went on and I kept writing about West St. Paul more and more on my personal blog, I couldn’t get away from this idea.
I’ve connected with a lot of people by writing about West St. Paul. When I went door knocking for campaigns last year, I was surprised by how often people already knew me. They’d seen my writing about West St. Paul, and it connected.
Let’s face it: It’s hard to know what’s going on in your community.
We’re a town of 20,000 people in a metro area of more than 3 million. Local media doesn’t pay much attention to us. And why should they? If you want to know who’s running for city council or why some road construction project is a big deal, it was really hard to find answers.
West St. Paul has an incredibly active Facebook group, but for all the benefit it brings, it’s often full of so much snark and noise that it’s hard to get straight answers.
So there’s interest, and there’s need, and I’ve got the passion.
The Benefit of Hyperlocal
What’s so interesting about West St. Paul Reader is the potential of hyperlocal news. I think when people can be informed about their community, they’re more likely to engage. When they engage with what’s going on, they’re more likely to connect with their neighbors.
Being informed, engaged, connected—that all creates a sense of pride in your community. You feel like you belong.
That’s definitely the spirit of West St. Paul, but it’s been so much stronger lately when people have been learning about what’s going on, engaging in volunteer and community efforts, and connecting with each other.
Just ask how many people have attended city council meetings for the first time in the past year.
West St. Paul Stories
So what stories are we telling? West St. Paul Reader has been live for 10 days, but here are some of the local stories we’ve already told:
- Debating Basketball: The West St. Paul city council will consider whether to return basketball hoops to two parks in the city after they were removed more than a decade ago.
- Student Turned Teacher: We talk with Garlough teacher Rodrigo Sanchez, who attended the school as a fourth grade student and has now returned as a third grade teacher.
- West St. Paul Days 2019: We offered a rundown of events for the annual West St. Paul celebration, including some history.
- City Council Recap: We shared a recap of the May 13 city council meeting, which included the anniversary of Women of West St. Paul and a citizen upset about the city response to a problem property.
- Questions: We’ve also provided short, simple answers to a number of questions, including when will the tunnel open, what’s going on in Thompson Park, when will FoodSmith open, and, the most popular, is West St. Paul getting a Kohl’s?
Support West St. Paul Reader
It’s been fun sharing these stories, and we’re just getting started.
But to keep it up, we need support. Please support the Kickstarter campaign, get some of those great rewards, and enable this hyperlocal effort to keep going.
Our next stretch goal is for guest columnists (because this project should be more than me). As of right now, we need another $910 to hit that goal. It’s a big ask, and definitely a stretch, but I think we can do it. We’ve got 17 more days to go.
Thanks to everyone who has made this happen.