Hey there dear ones. I’m going to get vulnerable with you for a minute. I know I don’t share a lot of stuff here with you that is a glimpse into the heart of my process. It is filtered, it comes after some piece has been resolved, it is a story that needs to be told. It feels far less vulnerable that way.
But starting a Patreon account? That has been pretty fucking vulnerable.
Starting a Patreon account is truly no small endeavor. I’ve been planning and thinking about mine for months, until I was finally at the place where I felt comfortable pursuing it. Much of that time has been spent peeling back layers of conditioning:
• my work isn’t valuable,
• I should just get a “real job”,
• I should become more of an entrepreneur and charge for all of my services,
• no one cares about what I do, I’ve worked so long behind the scenes that no one even knows who I am, or they all take me for granted
It has been a very difficult few months. While moving through these complexes, parts of my spiritual community directly associated with two of the projects I am involved with kinda exploded into some very messy drama. I did my best to not personally identify with any of it, even once some of the mud was slung directly on me. That is always a hazard when doing community work, but the timing could not have been more challenging. Because while going through all of this my younger sister died, suddenly and unexpectedly.
Just typing that moves a sea of emotion into roiling waves, beautiful yet dangerous.
Vulnerability feels dangerous.
Ultimately it was my sister’s death that moved me to launch my Patreon campaign. The pouring of support I received was an eye opening experience. Then I started to think of all of the work that she will never be able to do, all of the things that she was passionate about, all of the dreams she had. All of that potential, lost. I know she sometimes felt like her dreams were unattainable because of the money and time and physical barriers that were in her way – but she never let that stop her.
I won’t let it stop me either.
Putting myself out there as a writer and community builder is hard enough; I do it because there is work to be done, not for personal glory. Getting to the place where I can ask for financial support for that work has been really hard.
So I have to believe that the naysayers, the ones who reinforce the conditioning, who think this is a simple thing to do on a whim, or that it is just another ridiculous crowdfunding scheme, must not understand everything that is involved. It is not asking for a handout. It is not laziness. It is not easy.
Much of the work that I do I simply can’t charge for in a traditional way. Who would I charge? And when I am supporting projects that are just barely able to sustain themselves, where would the money come from?
I do believe Patreon is a step in the direction toward a radical shift in how we value those who enrich our communities. It isn’t the ideal model – there is still an entity between us financially benefitting from my work and your donations – but it is opening the discussion in a way that has previously not been possible. It is allowing those within the community who have the means to offer a tithe, to pass the hat as it were. And it is shining a light on work that so often goes unnoticed.
While working on my campaign I began to notice more of the potential that Patreon has while financially supporting cultural creatives. There is huge potential to build community, and to engage in the values of hospitality and reciprocity that strengthen communities. By fully stepping in to our roles as cultural creatives and ending the silence on the need for financial support of our work, we open ourselves and the community to be more greatly influenced by that work. We can have more open and honest dialogue about the creative process and all of the work that goes on behind the scenes to build community, and empower others to do the same. We can allow the community to support us – without guilt, shame, or attachment. And the community can feel good about fulfilling their obligations of hospitality and reciprocity – which includes a responsibility to those who are otherwise unable to afford access.
That sounds like a great recipe for healthy community to me.
You can find my Patreon account at https://www.patreon.com/syren Where you can read more about my work, my goals, and get some great rewards.