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Building Solutions To Conflict In The Middle East Through Story Telling

“I believe that the road to peace and the evolution of humankind towards a positive and just direction begins with the arts and the simple act of telling a story.”

Nicholas Turner is on a path towards fulfilling his responsibility to learn and understand cultures and the modes of expression used by people in the difficult struggle of achieving equality, personal rights and lasting peace. Part of his journey has been to co-found a new production company, Gratiis Productions. This new venture took them to The West Bank and Israel, to meet with artists who work hard at building solutions to life within conflict.

Nicholas is seeking to raise the funds to cover the costs of his travel expenses and tuition at Birzeit University. He aims to collect and share many personal accounts of life within Palestine, Israel and the Middle East who work actively towards solutions to violence and equal rights for all people. I spoke with Nicholas a week before his departure to Palestine. He shared how crowdfunding has not only helped him raise the necessary funds, but also bring like minded people along on his journey to inspire, entertain and inform.

What are you raising money for?

I am raising money for the cost of tuition, materials, rent and travel to study Arabic and Arab cultural studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank, Palestine. I seek fluency in Arabic and a deeper understanding of the conflicts that plague the Middle East and prevent the world as a whole from moving towards peace. I plan on using this opportunity in conjunction with my Masters program in International Affairs at The New School University in New York City and with my production company Gratiis Productions. Our mission is to inspire and activate communities to work towards peace and justice through the use of storytelling.

Why did you decide to turn to crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding has helped many people I know afford to undertake difficult and exciting opportunities for study and is a wonderful compliment to grants and scholarships. Also, crowdfunding offers me the opportunity to share my story with my family, friends and strangers that share my values.

How did you initially promote your campaign and create a community of support?

I added my entire contact list from my computer, my email accounts and my phone. I selected people I knew share my values and would be willing to support and wrote them personal notes.

What has been a challenge you faced while crowdfunding?

Raising money to travel to a place that has a bad and misguided reputation in America. I have tackled this issue through sharing as much as I can about my previous trip to the region and explaining why I believe my going to study is both important to me and to the American community as a whole. Updating often allows me to continue this narrative while also providing me the opportunity to refine my thoughts through daily reflection.

What has been the highlight of your crowdfunding experience so far?

Being surprised by donations made by people from my past that I may have not been in contact with recently and discovering the people who share my values and support my vision.

Do you have any advice for others who want to start crowdfunding?

Be clear, concise and specific about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how contributions and campaign sharing promote not just the fundraising aspect but the journey as a whole, and thank people all the time!

Crowdfunding benefits the person or organization not just with needed income but also with a refined and deeply crafted vision through regular updates and the critical thinking it requires to reach potential supporters. I am more moved and inspired through the notes of support than through the actual money donation. It feels good to have your ideas and vision validated through unexpected people.

Click here learn more about Nicholas and his journey.

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