Building the Future through the Manguinhos Complex - Crowdfunding for the Present

Caira Conner is heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to help build an infrastructure redevelopment project focused on improving quality of life in the surrounding favelas. She is utilizing the power of her family, friends, and other supporters to get her there. Lead architect Jorge Mario Jáuregui and his team at the Atelier Metropolitano began the project in response to demand by the city government of Rio de Janeiro. Jáuregui’s goal is to integrate the favelas into the rest of the city by introducing infrastructure, landmarks, and facilitating services like water and electricity. Here is a glimpse into Caira’s journey and her future role: What was the inspiration behind the international research project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? This project stemmed from a research paper I wrote on the World Cup as a potential catalyst for peacebuilding and socio-economic development. I spoke with a number of scholars (including ones who felt that to-date, the WC had not effectively impacted its respective host countries’ economies in the slightest), and the most significant feedback I received was that if it could indeed be a catalyst for change, it certainly wasn’t going to happen under current measurements. I discovered Jorge Mario Jáuregui (the lead architect behind the Manguinhos Complex) at the Museum of Modern Art in an exhibition called “Small Scale, Big Change.” Jáuregui’s work emphasizes the idea of public space as a social connector and I just fell in love with that concept. In light of the World Cup research I was already doing, it seemed like a reasonable move to try and connect the two. So much of the criticism of the World Cup I read was based on ignorance of, or lack of sensitivty to, the local culture of its host countries:  for example, razing down buildings and infrastructure to make way for new stadiums that probably won’t be used again once the tournament ships out. I thought what Jáuregui got especially “right” was the idea of not beginning from scratch. The vision of his organization is rooted in fostering existing potential, as in the case of the Manguinhos Complex. I pitched the idea to a professor who then encouraged me to enroll in his Applied Peacebuilding class. What I hope my research will be is an examination of how Jáuregui’s methods could be an example that the coming of the World Cup is opportunity for beneficial develpment for societies in disequilibrium.   A worthy cause for travel! How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of pro-social work in Brazil - how are your supporters responding?  It’s been a positive one thus far. That said, it’s tricky asking people for money, no matter the cause. (At least I think so.) However, I’m fortunate to have an extraordinary number of extraordinary people in my life willing to vouch for me. This project was originally presented in a grad school class at NYU and is still very much a work in progress-there’s a lot of questions to which I don’t have the answers and may not for some time…if ever. The people supporting me in this venture are especially fantastic because they’re giving me constructive criticism. I certainly have my work cut out for me but I’m looking forward to getting to Brazil and gaining some on-the-ground research experience. Very cool. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project?  I decided to use RocketHub because I was turned down for a research grant for this project. I’d been hesitant to even apply for the grant in the first place because it was so competitive and I doubted my chances, as well as my grant proposal writing capabilities. When I expressed my uncertainty, my uncle commented, “If you don’t apply, I can assure you that you will absolutely not get it.” So I applied, and then I didn’t get it. (Sigh.) Crowdfunding wasn’t the original method I had in mind when I thought about financing this project but I realized the research likely wouldn’t happen at all if I couldn’t figure out a way to pay for the plane ticket. I’ve heard from a number of people who’ve thought about crowdfunding a project and then didn’t because they didn’t want to engage in the awkwardness that can arise by reaching out to your network and asking for financial assistance. I certainly understand that perspective, but my uncle’s logic still applies. Even if I don’t hit my target goal, my project still gets exposure and I still get feedback on how to improve it. Thank you Caira for being so brave and for trying out crowfunding - it seems to have paid off. Help Caira get to Brazil, here. -Vlad

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  • April 27, 2011

RocketHub’s Gibson Music Retreat Video Recap

Browser does not support iframes! Documenting the Gibson Music Retreat in NYC - including music and interviews with NONVIOLENCE, and our own Brian Meece.

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  • April 26, 2011

Skating with a Crowd - A New Way to Fund an Athletic Career

Michelle is a 13-year-old skating talent. Kate is her dedicated, passionate, and supportive mom. Together they have taken the best parts of crowdfunding in order to support Michelle’s career. From Fox Television to prominent figure skating blogs, Michelle and Kate have captured the attention of many new fans and have built incredible momentum. I had the pleasure of chatting with Kate about their awesome campaign: What was the inspiration behind the ice skating project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? I desperately needed to find a way to fund my daughter’s skating career. It is a very expensive sport, and we have very modest means. I was considering more traditional methods of fundraising like a dinner and silent auction, but I had done that before and it is a very labor intensive way to raise money. Then I caught a story on the morning news about crowdfunding, and I decided to do some research. I looked at a number of crowdfunding sites, and settled on RocketHub.I liked the format, the easy to follow directions and the fact that it was not ‘all or nothing’. Plus, it seemed a little more welcoming to diverse projects like our sports oriented one. This project is crucial to keeping my daughter on the ice this year. There may possibly be more money available from sponsors, scholarships and grants as she moves higher in the sport, but at this level there is not a lot of those options.  We’re proud to have you on RocketHub :) How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of sports and in support of your daughter - how are your supporters responding? My experience, and I think I can speak for my daughter as well, has been life changing. I have been profoundly moved by the support we have received from family, friends, and total strangers. We have received money from across the entire country, and support from people in Asia and Europe. How cool is that? I have connected in new ways with relatives and old friends, and made some wonderful new ones. Plus we have shared Michelle’s story with so many people, and now they will be able to follow her career in the coming competitive season. We have amazing supporters. 1100 people have viewed her YouTube video. 63 people have shared her RocketHub page on Facebook, and another 43 have recommended her Fox9 news story. Countless others have shared her page with their email lists, and 4 blogs have connected to her RocketHub page. One friend connected us with the local news, another posted Michelle’s story on a Chinese community forum. We have received donations from $5.00 to $1000, and they are all important to us. We are very grateful for all the help we have received. You have a great story and you’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? I think the most important thing to realize is that this is also a lot of work. It cannot happen by itself. It has to be nurtured and continually fed. Every avenue you can think of must be explored and you have to be ready to stretch yourself and step outside your comfort zone. I spend time at least every other day reaching out to more people, updating the page, thanking people, and trying to think of ways to keep it fresh. Just try and remember that your job is to get your story out, far and wide. Everyone who encounters it is free to help or walk away. The more encounters there are, the more yeses there will be. I encourage Creatives to research and reach out to blogs in your area of interest. They can be invaluable. We have recently been contacted by a Korean figure skating blogger who learned about Michelle’s story through another blog that posted about our efforts. He posted a story about her today. So the connections continue to grow. The news story was a big boon to our efforts, also. Even that was a direct result of crowdfunding. A friend of ours is a reporter in Washington, DC. She read our initial posts on FB and thought it made a compelling story so she shared our story with a reporter here in the Twin Cities. That reporter contacted us, and did a great job in telling our story. I am not sure how many people saw the initial airing of our story, but we were able to share it far and wide. It convinced a number of people to give a second time, which completely took me by surprise. Lastly, I would like to say that if I can do this, than just about anyone can. I am 51 years old and while I am not technologically illiterate, this is all new to me. But I was able to take the tools RocketHub offered and use them successfully. You’ve done everything right and worked very intelligently. Thank you Michelle and thank you Kate. Support this project here. -Vlad

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  • April 25, 2011

Vickie Raye Hits the Radio

Vickie Raye has a passion for making good music. Now she is engaging her fans and creating a new record and radio release through the power of the crowd. We caught up with her to get the scoop behind the music. What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? After so many years of putting my music career on hold, for one reason or another, I finally really focused my efforts the last 5 years 100% on my music, initially as a songwriter in Nashville, and now as an artist. It took a lot of time and dedication as a songwriter to really earn the respect of some of the writers I respected and once I started to achieve that someone beckoned the question “why aren’t you an artist? You have a great voice.” Well after some thought, I returned to my “artist” roots and really started attacking the industry with artistry as my focus. I believe that I have something to say and breaking the stereotypical norms of the business became a catalyst for me. So finishing THIS project is different than the rest because it’s totally deliberate. Every song, every production. I didn’t want to just throw  bunch of songs onto a CD and sell it….I realy want to make a statement with this next album. I am older than a lot of artists that people will find now a days and it’s important for me to show that dreams are possible at any age and music has no age limits…Good music is good music, and a great song is a great song….It’s about being REAL…. I am so excited to see what the future holds for me and others like myself; and RocketHub has provided a phenomenal launching pad to really get out there and flying. Rock on! How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music in Nashville - how are your supporters responding? Ha ha! I don’t know if anyone can call ME a “pioneer”….but the crowdfunding concept that RocketHub provides is such a unique opportunity I couldn’t pass it up. Many here in town use some of the other companies out there, but something really spoke to me when I discovered RocketHub. I think my supporters are responding well to the “soft launch” so far….we’re getting ready soon to really rev things up and hopefully exceed our goal. Very nice - thank you! Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Great question. My only advice, for what it’s worth, is 1.) to really take the time to THINK about the rewards you’re offering and give possible supporters something that they can’t get anywhere else, 2.) Don’t be scared to just take the chance and see what happens (you have nothing to lose with RocketHub) 3.) You have to believe in your project 150% and trust that your passion will translate and be contagious to the possible supporters. and lastly, enjoy the whole ride no matter where it takes you! Thank you Vickie for your music and inspirational campaign. Check out her songs here. -Vlad

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  • April 22, 2011

Summer Schlock: Where 1977 is Here Again

Summer Schlock is a seven-chacacter, ensemble-driven, backstage musical comedy set during one wild week at a summer stock theatre in that glorious year – 1977. Wow! Kevin Carter has led an outstanding crowdfunding campaign to bring Summer Schlock to an NYC staged reading. We caught up with him and chatted about his partnership with director Andy Sandberg (Tony Award: HAIR) and the journey that’s brought them to RocketHub. What was the inspiration behind the musical theatre project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? Summer Schlock is important to me because it is the first show where I’m writing the whole thing from scratch. There is no source material, it’s not based on a movie, so it will all succeed or fail on my shoulders. This is also the first time I’m doing a reading without a theatre company (Ergo Theatre company produced the readings of my first two shows.) and I want to prove I can do it on my own and get the right people in to see it. It’s amazing when I’m the one putting the money together, I’m so much more gung-ho about making sure this reading succeeds and leads to the next step! Of course, I also have the talented (and Tony-winning) Andy Sandberg on board as director and he has such an amazing eye and gets the feel of the piece (even though I do have to explain some of the 70’s references from time to time…which doesn’t make me feel old at all!). The inspiration behind the show was severalfold (if that’s even a word). After my last show, which was a big 19 actor, full orchestra, lots of sets, lots of kids, flying, etc, after all that, I wanted to scale it back. I’ve always loved backstage comedies. Noises Off, the first time I saw it, literally exhausted me from laughing so hard.  So I wanted to do something like that. I love and grew up musically in the 70’s (my first concert was Captain & Tennille) and a cast member once coined a word to describe my ‘sound’, “Kevinties”. And I love big, brassy broads and hunky shirtless men. So, put that all together and, voila! That sounds like a wild ride. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of theatre - how are your supporters responding? This is my first time ever doing anything like this and I’m really amazed at the response. The people from my distant past that just see it on Facebook and donate, people I didn’t even reach out to personally! And the size of the donations floors me. I was expecting lots of $20 and $50, but those are in the minority. I had to get over feeling like I was ‘begging’, and as you say on your site, make it feel like it’s giving people the opportunity to be part of something fun. Crowdfunding is a very powerful mechanism. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Well, I have to give credit to my amazing friends and family first. And a big shout-out to my former co-workers and employers, they make up about half the contributors. But to start, I just followed the advice on your site. I reached out to the most likely supporters first and broke the emails up into groups; ‘co-workers’, ‘former co-workers’, ‘family’, ‘former cast members’, ‘friends’ and sent out tailored emails to each group gradually over the course of about 5 days. Then I’d thank the contributors on Facebook with a link to the site. Then about a week in, I sent a ‘progress report’ to all those groups, not asking for more money, just saying ‘hey look where we are’. I also changed the song link on the site so there’d be something new to come to the site for. Thank you Kevin! We can’t wait to see this hit the stage - get involved here. -Vlad

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  • April 20, 2011

Musicians Institute Hosts The State of The New Music Industry Discussion

About a week ago, on April 7, 2011 in Hollywood, California, I had the pleasure of participating in an innovative panel discussion at the Musicians Institute. This was the first installment of an ongoing Social Media Seminar Series with host Joy Kennelly and special guest panelists Terra Naomi, Evan Lowenstein, “Jingle” Jared Gutstadt, and yours truly. Four key trends emerged from the discussion: The music industry is broken and no one really knows what the future will bring. Social media is beginning to fill the void - including Facebook, Twitter, RocketHub, Jingle Punks, StageIt, and other innovative companies. There is some strategy involved to being a successful social media maven - but perseverance and the ability to quickly evolve are more important. Know who you are as an artist, don’t compromise your core, but be ready to tailor your messaging for the appropriate social media channels. So artists must do their homework, experiment, and be open to adopt new tools. Check out the official Musicians Institute recap here and Joy Kennelly’s “Joy Writer” recap here. It was an honor to sit next to these trailblazers. Stay tuned for more from the Musicians Institute and RocketHub. -Vlad

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  • April 19, 2011

Community-Based Web Design Comes To Life in Philadelphia

The dream is to design and build PhilaMade.com (along with its partner Shopify site) all in one 10-hour Site Nite work session. The event will be brought to life by PhilaMade’s amazing community of volunteer members, video and photo archived, and tweeted/blogged to give onlookers a live peak into a grand experiment. The man behind the plan and uber-successful crowdfunding campaign is Philadelphia-native, Joe Rinaldi. PhilaMade is dedicated to to celebrating, inspiring and cultivating creative brilliance in the Philadelphia community and we spoke to Joe about his process: What was the inspiration behind the community programming project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? Our RocketHub project was inspired by the grassroots creative organization I’ve been fortunate enough to help launch over the past two years, PhilaMade. PhilaMade is an organization dedicated to celebrating, inspiring and cultivating creative brilliance in the Philadelphia community. Our membership consists of designers, developers, writers and other folks from the advertising and design community in the Philadelphia area. We host a full slate of programming, ranging from happy hours, to professional development events including town hall meetings, Show & Tell, and round table discussions to karaoke. While our organization has grown tremendously over the last 18 months, and we enjoy an amazing online dialog via Twitter  (@PhilaMade) and Facebook, we have no web presence of our own to date. We’ve been our own worst client… It seemed anticlimactic to merely launch a site after all this time, so we raised the stakes creating a grand experiment. Site Nite was born.  On Site Nite, a handful of designers, developers, UX, project management and content folks, all hailing from a variety of creative teams, are going to walk into a room. After one full 8 hour work session, hopefully all of those same folks will walk out again (some limping I’m sure) along with a freshly minted PhilaMade web site. We’re going to document the experience in a variety of ways and publish those accounts to the site.  What can some seriously talented folks, working collaboratively, accomplish in one fell swoop? We’ll soon see. You’ve built a whole community around this project. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of web development in the Philly area - how are your supporters responding? The response from the RocketHub team, from our membership, and from the larger audience RocketHub delivered, has been overwhelming. We shattered our goal within two days of launch, and continue to be fueled by generous supporters as we pass the halfway mark of our project. RocketHub gave us a platform to communicate both directly with our group’s constituency, as well as a larger, interested audience.   As a result of this groundswell of support, we’ve started to identify additional functionality for the site that will go live in subsequent phases, as well as begun investigating other opportunities for PhilaMade to fund future events and projects, all fueled by our growing RocketHub funds. Every penny collected over our goal will be put to good use. Thank you for your kind words. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? I think it is important to identify a well defined project goal that will by its nature, excite your audience. I’m going to do ‘something’ awesome, is a pretty hollow promise. Awesome gifts are a good enticement, but creating a goal people are passionate about is more helpful. Creating excitement about the acheivability of this goal raises the stakes, and exponentially increases engagement.  When designing a crowdfunding community based project, make sure it is something your community wants, and present it to them in an exciting way. Thank you Joe for bringing your inspired community to RocketHub. Check out this successful project, here. -Vlad

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  • April 18, 2011

Crowdfunding Neighborly Love in Seattle

Crowdfunding can be a powerful force for social good. Whether its entire communities or particular individuals, the RocketHub process moves people to act, support, and spread the love. Berit Anderson is the Managing Editor of Pugethound.com, a Seattle area arts, opinion and lifestyle blogging hub for local writers. But she is fundraising support for her talented neighbor. We’ll let Berit tell the story: What was the inspiration behind the cool philanthropy project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? My neighbor Mike has always been what one would call a “good neighbor”— lending his truck for moving projects, dropping by with a pint of blueberries on a summer day, sprawling on his stomach on our living room floor in an attempt to help us fix our faulty furnace — so when he fell out of a tree this winter, breaking two vertebrae in his back and both his wrists, I knew I wanted to help. He’s a pruner, and winter is his slow season anyway, so he was already low on cash when the accident happened.  At the time, he was in a hospice program, so I figured the most helpful thing I could do was to raise money for his rent when he got out. His doctors said he probably wouldn’t be able to work again until July. I had used crowdsourcing to finance a rather exorbitant Christmas present for my boyfriend in just a few hours, so I knew it could be really effective.  I grew up on a small island in Washington State, so I’m a big believer in the power of community. My childhood was dotted with fundraisers for sick or injured islanders, or for those who had lost their homes or belongings in fires. Living in the city, it’s harder to organize those kinds of events, but sites like RocketHub make it easy to mobilize a large group of people around a common problem or goal.  Sounds like you’re a good neighbor :) How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the name of neighborly love - how are your supporters responding? Most of Mike’s immediate neighbors donated at a fundraising pizza party, so this site is targeted towards other supporters in the neighborhood or friends and clients of Mikes, who might not have been able to make the party. Which is a much tougher group to market to.  Response was initially very good, with several funders popping up right away, but has since dropped off. So my biggest challenge as I go ahead will be keeping the site in the public eye and making sure new people are learning about it.  Keeping momentum is key and can be tricky. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Use outside sources to spread the word. Simply setting up a project won’t necessarily get you much response. We invited the editor of our local neighborhood blog to the benefit pizza party. The next week, the blog ran a story about Mike with a link to our RocketHub page. Instant publicity.  Make sure you communicate the importance of giving to your project in any amount. You don’t want potential donors to feel their smaller gifts won’t make a difference. In the end, they add up! Thank you for your public support and neighborly love. Check out Berit’s benevolent project here. -Vlad

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  • April 15, 2011

NONVIOLENCE is Selected for RocketHub’s First LaunchPad Opportunity

We are proud to unveil the artist selected for the prestigious Gibson Music Retreat. Joshua Reuben Lewis, a.k.a. NONVIOLENCE, is the chosen musician for this uniquely valuable opportunity.  Josh and his band will receive week-long access to the New York City Gibson/Baldwin Showroom. Once known as The Hit Factory, this historic location is where Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Tony Bennett, Madonna, Jay-Z, Santana, Sting, Barbra Streisand, U2, and Stevie Wonder cut their hits. In addition, Lewis will be rewarded with a $1,000 cash stipend. During the week-long retreat, we have arranged for numerous pop-ins and feedback sessions with notables, including Ed Steinberg, music video producer and director for the likes of Madonna and the Gypsy Kings, Eric de Fontenay, indie-management and PR icon, as well as representatives from Atlantic Records, EMI, Sony/ATV, and others. Joshua Reuben Lewis was selected based on his immense talents, musical fit, and the ability to massively mobilize his fan-base through RocketHub’s crowdsourcing mechanism. The 45-day crowd-powered talent discovery involved thousands of fans and mobilized numerous high-quality musical submissions. The NONVIOLENCE submission can be found here. In addition to NONVIOLENCE, there were many strong submissions. Several finalists were chosen based on fan engagement and A&R feedback: Jacob Moon, Anthony Cekay, Blake Whyte, Manitoba Hal, Evan Shinners, Alfonso Velez, Le Mood, Michele Riganese, Rale Micic, Kris Lakota, Shariese Katrell, and Niall Connolly. These finalists will have their work directly introduced to the notables associated with the opportunity.  This opportunity with Gibson is the first of countless LPOs that are in the works. “This is the first step in a new era of creative empowerment and engagement,” says our own CEO, Brian Meece, “Brands can now support creativity in an authentic way and also have a new avenue for high-quality engagement with their audience.” “RocketHub’s partnership with Gibson is another disruption of the old model: It unites brands with artists without the need for a middle man.” — The Washington Post -RocketHub Team  

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  • April 13, 2011

Giving to the Crowd The Healing Power of Music

Darren Hall is a passionate seeker (and finder!) of spirituality who became interested in the healing arts and practice of medicine. The RocketHub team was mesmerized by the musical result of his work. We had to speak to Darren to learn more about his project and about his approach: What was the inspiration behind the music healing project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you and your team? Quite simply I was looking to raise money in a way that was fresh, dynamic and wouldn’t leave me with the the hassle of long wait periods for grants and dealing with impersonal government institutions. On a personal level, I was looking for a way to offer something to all the people who come to my performances and ask me after where they could buy the CD. After a couple dozen people asked me I figured destiny was trying to nudge me into a certain direction! I’m inspired to make a revolution in the approach of music in the 21st century. Music is rediscovering its roots as a healing art and the magnificent tones of these crystal bowls along with intuitive singing that ventures into the shamanic and the sacred science of mantra are my humble offering toward this transformation. RocketHub is important to me because it gives me a chance to interact with my fanbase and friends by giving back rewards for donations. It also gives people the chance to support me. So far, the outpouring has been amazing! Awesome - it’s great to hear about your successful approach. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music and health - how are your supporters responding? As I stated it’s been really fantastic. People really like the idea of supporting and then being able to create a relationship of value for their donations with the gift incentives. I am more than happy to recompense as it really allows me to make it worth it for supporters. I think it’s a wonderful way to connect people to the true generosity of communities and help earnest entrepreneurs get a foothold in a world that often stymies dreamers with the speedbumps of pragmatism. In short, it gives dreams strong roots to grow. Moreover, it’s re-inventing the economy, making it more communal, friendly and, ultimately, fertile. I feel that with RocketHub many rockets that would never have the fuel to fly are now given the chance to soar. With this incentive to dreamers and pioneers alike, Rockethub offers itself as a catalyst for a revolutionary fervour in society by giving vanguards who might otherwise be on the fringe for lack of funding a chance to take off and transform culture. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Take the leap. I know I thought to myself, this is crazy, at the beginning? Who would give me money for this? I’ve been deeply humbled by the love shown by my supporters and even though I have a ways to go to get to my goal, if I don’t end up making it and am just shy it’s still been a wondrous experience to feel the support of community. So many creative people don’t do anything because they feel the prospect of finances is too intimidating. This gives people a chance to transcend that and by the love of people around them and even the suprising support of strangers, which is even more golden. Go for it! As one of my favourite bands, Elbow, sings in one of their great new anthems ‘Lippy Kids’: Build a rocket, boys!!! Darren recognizes that we live in a thrilling time. And we are thrilled to have his project on RocketHub. Check it out here. -Vlad

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  • April 12, 2011