At the very real risk of engaging in some heavy ass-kissing, I’d like to dedicate my first ZSpace column to Michael Albert and the Z staff, and their quite extraordinary fundraising e-mails. My heart warm and my lips drift upward as I read about the latest scheme for increasing Z revenue. If I’m not mistaken, I read in ‘Remembering Tomorrow’ about the last time they tried this approach. Apparently, with a few glitches in the form of one or two angry sustainers, it worked wonders for the financial situation so as to keep Z afloat while maintaining ambitious visions for its future. That future seems to be here now, with the new system upgrade and people like myself finally making the leap to become sustainers after years of periodically visiting the site.
I think I like reading Michael’s fundraising mails because they so accurately seem to convey my own feelings about soliciting money for a good cause. You can always feel the uneasiness of the asking party – that somewhere deep down he hates having to ask. At the same time there is an open defiance, quite often literally expressed and explained. In this case, the sentiment again radiates from the text (as logical and argumentative as it might be); as if someone grabbing you by the shoulders to implore: is it really too much to ask for you to go through the ‘trouble’ of signing up and then giving a few dollars each month in order for this unique experiment in alternative media and community to be able to survive – and then expand? Is it really? Are you just a whiner who likes to complain about the state of the world, or are you willing to put your buck where your mouth is and start supporting alternatives? And if the latter, why not this alternative? Is Z not a quite important institution with real potential for becoming even more so? Shouldn’t we all who frequent the site try to make something even more special by allowing (through our financial support) and creating (by participating) an expansion of operations? Could we all together help achieve Z’s vision of a participatory society in online form right here and now?
Perhaps Michael will not recognize himself in these comments; it could be I am guilty of projection. But it does definitely seem to me that Z’s fundraising appeals generally combine these elements – on the one hand the disgust at having to beg for money, on the other the justified defiance in saying that we damn well better support Z because it is most certainly the right thing to do and we should really be doing it voluntarily without the appeals! (Phrased somewhat differently…but you get my point). If that is a correct interpretation, I for one love it. I know there certainly are real time-constraints on e-mail reading, but I am just so happy to encounter something in this plastic culture that is real, honest and open about means and ends, that – as I said – I actually relish in reading these appeals.
Support Z. Let your sustainer level be raised.
And PS – No, unlike what happens in the prevailing culture, I am not a hired hand writing a planted column as ‘PR’. I am a long time user, recent sustainer, still disconnected from pretty much everyone else using the site (a fact I hope will change) and am writing this at my own initiative….