If you know me or my situation, some of this will be redundant – feel free to scroll down – but if not, here is a bit of introduction.

My name is Charlie Soeder. I’m 26, living in Durham NC, and I need help funding my legal defense against marijuana-related charges.

I have lived in or around Durham for the last decade or so, first attending the North Carolina School of Science and Math for the last two years of high school, then moving down the road a bit to Chapel Hill, where I completed a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry. I spent a few years living in Carrboro, then a year in Atlanta working with the ArkFab Collective before moving back to Durham last October. I think that North Carolina is a beautiful place, and I have loved living in the Triangle.

A chemistry show at Occupy Durham

Children learning the wonders of science

I have a number of hobbies, including music (I play guitar and panpipes), recreational mathematics, bicycling and jogging. I am also an amateur scientist interested in a number of fields; I pursue my interests by reading research articles, analyzing data, and doing experiments on my own. I write, primarily for my award-winning website TopologicOceans, where I focus on environmental science and on promoting mathematical and scientific literacy. I have also put together a short book, “CO2 Trouble,” which explains the environmental chemistry of carbon dioxide and addresses common misconceptions about it. These writings have been been reposted at SkepticalScience and by the European Project on Ocean Acidification. Beyond my science writing, I perform free, educational chemistry shows for the public, and I have given talks on  computer programming, computational botany, and artificial life.

I am dedicated to open source technology, especially open source instrumentation. Towards this end, I am developing an open source spectrophotometer. Such a device could be invaluable for developing countries with no access to the expensive scientific instruments they need to monitor water quality for example, or perform medical tests. My website is an internet hub for open source/DIY spectophotometry; literally thousands of people have visited these pages, and my bibliography of similar projects has helped scores more. This project has also been featured on such sites as BoingBoing and Hack-A-Day.

I am also an activist for a number of causes, including LBGTQ rights, peace, and labor. I am currently working on setting up a community recycling and composting program in my apartment complex. I participated in anti-SOPA/PIPA demonstrations by taking my website offline.

I work as a web administrator at Version 2.0 Technology by day; by night, I am in charge of the hardware department of Professional Mortuary Services of North Carolina.

The Hardware Dept

Hard at work with my wares.

Enter D.

D approached Occupy Durham’s Housing Committee earlier this spring, facing eviction and seeking help. I agreed that he could stay with me until he got on his feet again. We generally got along well, though towards the end of our stay together I began to notice that my room was being entered and that my cash was disappearing.

On Monday, 4 June 2012, I was sitting on my porch, alternating between reading about information theory and Ursula K. le Guinn’s “The Dispossessed”, when the police showed up. It turned out that D had called them on me; he would later admit to being a serial informant. In the search of the premises that followed, the police confiscated 3.2 ounces of cannabis and paraphernalia. Ironically, my room is arguably somewhat cleaner than it was before the search. I am charged with felony possession, felony maintenance of a dwelling, and misdemeanor paraphernalia. My court date is 7 August 2012.

I don’t have much money; I’ve been scraping by as it is. My parents are retired and on a low income; the rest of my family and friends are in a similar financial situation. Affording a quality lawyer is currently a bit of an obstacle. Therefore, I am sending out a friendly appeal for donations to crowdsource my legal fund. I understand that times are hard for everyone, but anything that you can contribute, even $1, would be immensely helpful in offsetting the legal costs of keeping me out of jail and providing the quality services described above. Please forward this appeal to anyone you know who would be interested. Any surplus funds will be donated to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Donations can be made through PayPal; there is a donation button near the top of the page. If you want to donate or help through other avenues, please contact me.

Thank you very much!




  1. I hate being broke, but I can donate the cost of buying you a beer. Best of luck to you Charlie! Please keep us posted as best you can!

  2. Send your snail mail address and I will send a check (small unfortunately). And keep us posted. Ciao. (I’m a friend of your terrific mom.)

    • I think I can get in touch via mom – but if you don’t hear from me, send an email through the Contact page 🙂

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