My very first Kickstarter project


kickstarterKWow it has finally launched! YES!

Folks, if you’ve been following this blog for a long time, you know about “Project Iceberg”, my little code word for a something I’ve been planning and working on since August 2012 when I wrote my post The Revolution Begins Today.

Essentially I looked around here and wondered what I could do to make this city and country a better place. I don’t have a million dollars so what could I do?

Well I decided to make a film. I took 1,000 Euros of my own money and spent hundreds of hours on the streets of Cluj, recording a documentary about the many homeless people I know here, including one kid in particular named “Ishti” (real name Ștefan or “Steven” in English), whom I’ve known for years and written about a few times here on the blog.

I froze my ass off and waded through garbage and crawled into horrifically dank spaces all so I could film the story of these people. And today I am soooo super excited and happy to announce that I am launching my very first ever KICKSTARTER PROJECT as well as the accompanying website and Facebook page.

What’s it all about? Well I’ll direct you to this post I wrote on the webpage dedicated to this project if you want more details. But essentially what I decided back in August was that biggest problem facing Romania was that there is a huge gulf between the people who are willing and able to help Romania (and Romanians) and being able to know what’s actually going on.

It’s relatively easy to look at statistics and know that Romania is poor. But who are the poorest of the poor here in this country? What is it that they need? What are their daily lives like? Very few people with the money and/or inclination to help Romanians (of any walk in life) speak Romanian and almost no one really knows what’s going on here beyond a few portals and blogs with news.

I’ve known Ishti for years and I speak Romanian and I’m blessed to have the resources to make this documentary, bridging the gulf between the two worlds. I can’t create hundreds of thousands of jobs or provide free education to the people of Romania but I can use my skills and connections to reach the people who can help, the people who write to me on a weekly basis asking me how they can help.

Well I’ve now finished recording this film but it needs assembled and edited and polished and a shitload of subtitles (in several languages) and this is a major undertaking. That’s where the Kickstarter project comes in because you and everyone you know can contribute and give me the opportunity to truly make this film shine.

Then it can be shown and distributed and seen by people who really need to know what’s going on so they can make informed decisions. There are huge political ramifications to being informed, including right now especially in Britain where homeless Gypsies from Romania are having a huge impact on the British government’s plan to lift immigration quotas at the end of 2013.

Want to help me do this? Follow the link and click on the green box that says “Back this Project”. Although Kickstarter is designed primarily for people in America and Britain, anyone from around the world can contribute if they have a credit card.

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Even if you cannot contribute financially, click here and then click on the Facebook/Twitter share buttons. The more people who know about this, the more you are helping me and helping (eventually) this country. Instead of hanging our heads and saying that “nothing can be done” to make this a better place to live, let’s show the world that something can be done!

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!

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28 Comments Add yours

  1. just for kicks says:

    If this film is anywhere near the quality of most of your YouTube videos, you’ll need to just go ahead and stick to writing and let someone else give a voice to these people. Nice try on using kickstarter to put some $$ in your pocket, though. Looks like it wasn’t too successful.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Am I the only one who finds the name Ishti unusual, even as a diminutive for Stefan?
    In Hungarian Stefan is Istvan and Pishti or Pishta are diminutives as common as Steve might be for Steven in English.
    Just wondering if Sam has somehow missed the “P”.

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  3. Poverty porn coupled with racist and ableist language, all from a man who claims to be an authority on my country because he’s travelled some and made his own cheese. Protip: if you want to help people, first consider portraying them in a respectful manner. You talk about ‘bridging the gap’ and working to prevent racial stereotyping, yet you repeatedly use ‘gypsy’ in your text. In case you missed that particular lesson, this is racial slur. The N-word that your own country is so rightfully allergic to? It’s exactly like that.

    What are you planning to accomplish with this TV show of yours? Screen it to a bunch of people who you suppose ‘would like to get an inside look into the lives of the very poorest people who live in this already poor country’ so they’ll feel sorry for a bit and then go on with their lives? Do your part to save the poor? I honestly couldn’t care less if you want to play your quirky expat with refreshing views card in order to tell this story to the world at large. But the racist, disrespectful, condescending way you choose to do it makes my blood boil.

    Get over yourself. If you want to help people, start by looking for an ounce of human decency in yourself, tone down on the ego and consider your choice of words carefully before you start typing.

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    1. Mihai C. says:

      In my opinion “gypsy” (“tigan”) is not a racial slur. This is actually how they were officially called prior to 1989 (as a proof you can verify the official results of the census from 1956, 1966 and 1977).
      As a further (and more accessible) proof try saying to someone that he is a “rom”; you’ll see that he’s not going to be any happier than if you call him “tigan”.

      It’s not the word that defines the person, is the person that defines the word.

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      1. It’s a good thing we’re not living prior to 1989. Otherwise I might have felt obligated to refer to an entire ethnic group using a word that has historically been associated with slavery, thieving, child kidnapping, dishonesty and bad hygiene. But I mean it’s OK, the 1956 census is there to validate my opinion.

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      2. Mihai C. says:

        Yes, the word “tigan” has been associated with all those things. And now the word “rom” is associated with them.

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      3. Except here’s the thing, Mihai: words have meanings. Roma/Romani/Romane are terms that describe ethnicity in the Romani language itself (in the same way that ‘român’ means Romanian in Romanian) ‘Tigan’ comes from the Greek word ‘atsinganoi’, which literally means ‘untouchable’. If assigning default pejorative terms to the name of an ethnicity or referring to an entire group of people indiscriminately as ‘untouchables’ still doesn’t count as racist to you, that’s a problem.

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      4. Mihai C. says:

        The origins of the word tigan is not clear, I know several theories, all coming from linguists. It may come from Greek as you say, it may not.

        Regardless of that, “tigan” was not a pejorative word, it was the ONLY word that existed in Romanian language to refer to that nation. Gypsies themselves did not identified themselves as “romanes” until relatively recently (sometimes in the 1970’s they had an international conference where they’ve decided to come up with a name from themselves – a name different from any other word they were identified with in other European languages). Therefore “rom” is an invented term and not very accurate either; it’s like at some point we will decide to call ourselves “oameni”.

        As for the English word “gypsy” it’s also not necessarily pejorative; as proof of that is, for instance, the musical band “Gypsy Kings”. It’s hard to believe they’ve wanted to insult themselves.

        And yes, the words have meanings, they transmit a certain idea. If the idea is not positive then the word itself will never be positive. So if the nation in question is held in low regard then whatever word will use to identify it will be equally pejorative.

        PS: As a note, even the linguists who claim that “tigan” means “untouchable” explain that the word was used not as derogatory term, but because they used to salute each other by using the hindi method – without shaking hands so they did not touch each other.

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    2. Sigh.

      1. A large number of people with a long history of discrimination all over the continent get together and come up with a name to call themselves as an ethnic group and literally tell you ‘Hey, this is what you should call us instead of all these names you have given to us that are offensive if you pick up a dictionary’. A thinking person’s reaction would be ‘Whoa, maybe that *means* something, let’s take a tick to think about it’ and not ‘Ah well, it’s an invented word anyway.’ All words are invented. Languages are invented. This is not an argument.

      2. ‘Therefore “rom” is […] not very accurate either’. Reference and citation please.

      3. The English word ‘gypsy’ is a derivative of ‘Egyptian’. It’s an exonym. This is not offensive per se, unless you consider how a bunch of people belonging to the dominant population went all ‘IDK man, they kind of look Egyptian to me, let’s call them that and not bother to research their history or like, ask how they feel about it.’ Also because historically it’s been associated with all these negative traits, as I’ve already explained.

      4. The Gypsy Kings have Roma origins and can call themselves that, as can any Roma person if they want. It’s called linguistic re-appropriation. Read about it. Preferably from a source written by a Roma person who knows their stuff better than you or me.

      5. Hey, you know what’s a gr8 first step in eradicating discrimination and prejudice? Listening to the people you discriminate and are prejudiced against. If they tell you ‘We want to be called by this name which comes from our own language and doesn’t carry any pejorative connotation instead of the names you gave us without bothering to ask’ then you call them by that name and actively work to not assign negative meanings to it. Otherwise you are racist.

      PS. These linguists you keep mentioning who cite Hindi salutations as an explanation for why ‘untoucheable’ isn’t an extremely problematic word are incompetent linguists and need to google ‘caste system in India’. As should you. You might learn a thing or six.

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      1. Mihai C. says:

        Just two comments, because otherwise this subject already wasted enough of my time.
        1. When I said the word “rom” is not accurate I was reffering to the fact that it means “people”. What citation do you want? It’s just basic logic.
        2. Before judging if the respective linguists are incompetent or not, you should be a competent linguist yourself. Are you?
        Other than that believe what you want. As long as the ethnic group in question will not be associated with some positive traits the word itself changes nothing.

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    3. 1. I know what it means. But for the last time: the point you keep and keep missing is that it has this meaning in *their* language/dialects and they chose it, as a discriminated group, so that the majority will stop associating the name with negative terms. It’s not basic logic until you understand that the burden of disassociating negative terms with it is now on us. So going back to your original comment, ‘In my opinion “gypsy” (“tigan”) is not a racial slur’: yes, it is. ‘People’ is a million times preferable to ‘untouchables.’

      I asked for citations because I was curious by what standards you are evaluating whether or not the word is ‘accurate’. Etymologically it is. But words don’t exist in a vacuum.

      2. I am not a competent linguist. I am a competent translator with a minor in history. Which means I have research skills in both these areas. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so if I don’t know something on a language/history topic, I know what to look for, where and how.

      You can go ahead and spell out truisms about how the world will not change if we ourselves don’t change it all you want. But if at the same time you keep bringing up pseudo-academic explanations for why ‘gypsy’ is not a racist word, and why it’s OK for non-Roma people to use it, you are being hypocritical.

      Have a nice day.

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    4. Mihai C. says:

      1. It stands to reason that classifying an argument as “pseudo-academic” you would have to know who made the research, how etc. You do not. So you are the one making claims without any base.
      2. I was not and I am still not claiming that the respective interpretation is a correct one. My claim (see my previous comments) is that the exact origin of the word “tigan” is a matter of debate, experts can’t agree upon it. As for myself, I don’t know which one of the experts is right.
      3. The word “gypsy” or “tigan” doesn’t mean anything in their language. It means something in other languages.
      4. Hypocrisy means to pretend to be something that you’re not while I am saying exactly what I mean. Which is that the word is not the problem, the idea transmitted by the word is negative. Like, for instance, the word “disease” or “death”; these words are not pejorative, they just refer to a negative concept.

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      1. 1. Enlighten me.
        2. You are talking about people debating the origins of a word that is essentially dehumanizing. Why are people debating the origins of a word that is essentially dehumanizing? Are they trying to reframe it? For whose purpose? Explain to me why these experts are clinging to the history of such a word when they have an alternative that literally means ‘people’
        3. I am not going to make any claims in that department because I don’t speak any dialect of the language, and so I don’t know. I do know that its meaning in English/Romanian is pejorative and frankly that should be enough to make you think.
        4. OK picture this: when you put a thing next to a word once, your brain will not necessarily make a long-lasting association. When you put the same thing next to the same word over and over again, your brain will eventually learn that that word means that thing. They are interdependent. It’s the basics of how we learn language. Words are not value-neutral codes linked to fixed interpretations. If they were, we would be speaking mathematics to eachother. So if an idea has a negative connotation, the word used to represent it can’t stay value neutral. The next time you hear that word, you will implicitly understand the negative idea.

        Incidentally, death and disease are naturally or spontaneously occurring phenomena. Attitudes towards social groups are constructed, mutable and influenced by language. Language change will not automatically trigger an attitude change, but it’s the first step towards it.

        I can go all day, Mihai. But the argument is going to be the same.

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  4. eu says:

    education is free in this country except university. and even there there are options. Can you say the same about america? lol

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    1. Madeleine says:

      there is free education in America too (public schools) and even there there are options (charter schools). if you are really really good, you can go to college for free too (scholarships)! yeah, drop the bullshit about America and stop using it as argument for every little friggin’ thing that doesn’t work in Romania. it’s not how it works, son.

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      1. Mihai C. says:

        How many of your top politicians, or top businessmen, or top scientists went to public schools? I mean, could you name a few? Just curious to see if they really work.

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      2. Madeleine says:

        too many for you to count and, by the way, I am not american. I just observe, look at the data and I open my mouth only when I know what the hell I am talking about. what I am trying to say is that every time Sam’s posts some crazy ideas like the one above, you people jump all over him and somehow find a link between his poor vision about Romania and the fact that he is American. no, it’s not like that, just be the judge of the revolutionary wanna-be theories that Sam is propagating about Romania. America is the most diverse country I have ever seen and it all comes to the individual to make their life just the way they want it to be.
        Sam’s vision about Romania is poor, he is confused, there are so many realities that he doesn’t quite grasp and it’s a shame he puts his ideas out there, for everybody to see.

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      3. Mihai C. says:

        That’s great, but you haven’t answered my question. Since there are so many successful people who went through American public schools you should be able to name a few.

        Oh, and I haven’t “jumped all over him” I’ve just asked a question. I can’t answer for the rest of “us people” (whatever that means).

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      4. Anonymous says:

        Steve Jobs. O em ge … Steve Jobs went to public school!? Mihai, you are fighting way too many battles … Peace out.

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      5. Madeleine: Sam’s narrow-mindedness has nothing to do with his country of origin. It has everything to do with the fact that he seems to think his expat status and fifteen minutes of media fame somehow validate his offensive comments, reductionist and stereotypical views of Romania and attempts to assign mental disorders to the entire population because lololol that’s *hilarious*. When I first found this blog, I thought it was satire. The fact that a number of people here take him seriously and look to him as some sort of authority on Romania worries me.

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      6. Mihai C. says:

        Just to be clear, I was referring to higher education, not elementary schools.
        As for Steve Jobs he started (but never finished) Reed College from Portland. This is a private (and expensive) college. So if you want to take his college into consideration then he was enrolled in a private college. If you consider the fact that he never graduated then we could say that he was successful due to his genius – in spite of not having any formal education.

        As for many battles… that’s how I like my chances. :-)

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    2. Rimu says:

      Well, I am a bestselling auhotr (and former marketing maven) and I can tell you that sometimes you have all your ducks in a row (social media? check! cool blog? check? hot sh*t publicist? check! big time agent? check!) and it still doesn’t work out the way you want it to. Sometimes it’s not actually hard work at all but pure luck. As my gardening guru once told me, You can spend a lot of time tilling the soil in the fall because it feels like you’re actually DOING something, but in the end, nature has it’s way of doing things. My personal advice: enjoy the journey and don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s great to have a blog if you truly enjoy writing it. It’s great to have a newsletter, if it’s fun and inspiring to put one out. But then again, a nice crisp martini, or 90 minutes of yoga, a sweet-smelling bath, or calling your mom and saying I love you and thanks for everything! may actually do more for your writing than following the auhotr marketing rule book.Personally, for me, sometimes my blog and my self-promo stuff has been a way to procrastinate the truly harder stuff: writing and finishing the great book du jour. In the end, like my guru says, it can be distracting but it feels like you’re actually DOING something because it SEEMS like the real work. Nature often has a way of taking it’s own course. Put the blog on hold for tonight and call your mom. Signing off about to listen to my own advice.xxJennifer

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  5. eu says:

    the project is disgusting. romania is one of the poorest countries of europe. enough of this.you want 5k ? lol

    Like

    1. Mihai C. says:

      @eu: You’ve lost me. What are you trying to say?

      Like

      1. eu says:

        if he opened a hotline for donations it would have been the same thing.instead he uses kickstarter which for newbies is a really cool thing.not to mention the horrible ”selling” language regarding Romania.

        Like

      2. Don says:

        You may have addressed this above but I don’t have time to read all the cotmenms . . . Can you speak to the usefulness of a newsletter for an author who has one (unknown) traditionally published book and one unpublished-and-not-sure-which-route-to-go book? I already muse about my publishing options on my blog, and I don’t really have any noteworthy updates at this point. I love the idea of giveaways, but I’m not sure what I’d give away, and money’s so non-existent right now that even the thought of postage makes me flinch. Suggestions?

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