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Help Raise Money For “Torchbearer Collection” to Support the Hardworking Oysterman

The Torchbearers Collection is a tribute to the Gulf Coast oyster and the hard-working men and women who bring it from the ocean to our plates. They are raising money on Kickstarter. Recently I caught up with Ashley Porter to learn more about the effort; here’s what she told me:

What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?

Our project has four main social objectives:

  1. To raise awareness about the plight facing Gulf Coast oyster fisheries
  2. To preserve the traditional craft of oyster tong making, a piece of maritime culture that is fading
  3. To provide direct economic support to craftsmen like Rodney, by sourcing materials from them
  4. To raise money for the Apalachicola Riverkeeper organization

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How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?

We’ve set a goal of $25,000. This money will go to producing the first batch of jewelry, building our supply chain and establishing our brand and marketing materials.

Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?

The Torchbearers Collection aims to help traditional fisher people in Apalachicola, Florida.

The Apalachicola River Basin is among the most ecologically diverse natural systems in the Southeast — sustaining a staggering array of rare and endemic species and supporting a $7 billion seafood industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

Perhaps nowhere along the Gulf Coast is the tradition of oystering so ingrained with the culture as in Apalachicola, a tiny fishing village perched on Florida’s Panhandle. The town has traditionally produced about 10 percent of the oysters consumed in the United States and 90 percent of those consumed in Florida.

Generations of oystermen have hauled their living from the bottom of the town’s namesake bay, using specialized tools called “tongs.” The task of making these tools has traditionally been the purview of craftsmen like Rodney Richards, who learned the trade from his father — a legendary tong-maker named “Corky.”

Rodney’s ancestral trade — and the way of life it supports — is in peril. Apalachicola’s oyster industry has all but collapsed over the last several years — brought to its knees by drought, the 2010 oil spill and a tri-state water war that is now before the Supreme Court.

Our project would provide direct support to Rodney, giving him a reason to continue plying his trade. It would also support the larger community by raising awareness and providing funding to the Apalachicola Riverkeeper, an organization with a long track record of conserving the Apalachicola River System.

Torchbearers Collection from Paprika Studios on Vimeo.

What rewards, if any, are you offering to your supporters?

  • Level 1 $5
    Handwritten thank you letter on a vintage oyster tong postcard
  • Level 2 $25
    5 Postcards with antique oyster tong Image
    1 ticket to Dec. 15 product launch party in New Orleans
  • Level 3 $95
    Men’s long pendant necklace (Retails $125)
    1 ticket to Dec. 15 product launch party in New Orleans
  • Level 4 $95
    Long labradorite pendant necklace (Retails $125)
    1 ticket to Dec. 15 product launch party in New Orleans
  • Level 5 $150
    Horizontal pendant tong necklace (Retails $175)
    1 ticket to Dec. 15 product launch party in New Orleans
  • Level 6 $250
    His and her necklace set (horizontal for her) (Retail $300)
    2 tickets to Dec. 15 product launch party in New Orleans
  • Level 7 $ 2,500.00
    Limited edition solid 14K gold tong pendant
    4 tickets to Dec. 15 product launch party in New Orleans
    (First person to pledge receives a two-night stay for two in French Quarter)

Check out the campaign:

Visit the website.
Follow on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter: @PorterLyonsLLC

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