An open letter to readers of Briarpatch Magazine.
And we’ve got lots more up our sleeves, with issues in the works on migration & borders, the politics of health and the soul of activism.
But while the content of the magazine has never been stronger, Briarpatch has not been immune to the consequences of the economic crisis. Facing rising costs and falling revenues, we’ve struggled recently with serious funding stability problems — a crisis/opportunity that has led us to rethink our entire funding model and propose something bold and dynamic in its place: the Deeper Roots campaign.
Finding opportunity in crisis
As you know, the entire media industry is in crisis. Newspapers are closing down, local television is disappearing and investigative journalism is depressingly rare. Beyond these general trends, Briarpatch was denied project funding from the Canada Magazine Fund for the past two years, and at the time of writing, future funding remains uncertain.
According to our financial projections, these two years of lost project funding and other costs could leave us with a $30,000 budget shortfall in 2010/2011 if we don’t act. For a grassroots non-profit organization, the immensity of this projected shortfall is truly scary.
In response, we’ve come up with a plan that could transform our entire funding structure and leave us less dependent on external funding sources.
Community Supported Media
In our efforts to think outside the box of traditional funding models, we draw inspiration from the food security movement, in particular from initiatives like organic farming and community-supported agriculture, which we see as both a metaphor and a business model for the deeper roots and long-term sustainability we seek.
In particular, we look to Cuba’s response to its own sustainability crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Like Cuba before the Special Period, Briarpatch has become overly reliant on unsustainable infusions of imported energy (not Soviet oil in our case, but, rather, government grants). Cuba addressed its crisis by embracing grassroots, organic, urban agriculture. (Visit powerofcommunity.org to learn more.)
We propose to transplant those lessons from grassroots agriculture to grassroots media.
You’ve heard of Community Supported Agriculture? With your help, we’re building Community Supported Media.
Our plan is ambitious but achievable. And we want it to serve as a model of the grassroots media of the future: organically funded, intellectually nutritious, aesthetically delicious and all-’round good for a growing body politic.
More than 150 readers are already making modest monthly donations to Briarpatch; over the next year, we intend to double this number. 150 additional Sustaining Subscribers giving an average of $20/month will ensure Briarpatch has enough stable revenue to remain a beacon in our collective struggle for global sanity long into the future.
For as little as $10/month - the cost of a cup of coffee a week - you can be an integral part of Briarpatch’s continued success, providing us with stable year-round funding.
All Sustainers receive an automatically renewing subscription, a special annual sustainer-only newsletter and printed thanks in every issue. Sustainers of $25 or more will receive all that plus a Briarpatch “resistance is fertile” sticker and a copy of Judy Rebick’s latest book, Transforming Power: From the personal to the political. And sustainers of $50/month or more will receive all of the above, plus 3 gift subscriptions to distribute as you see fit.
But more importantly, you’ll be participating in a media-funding revolution that could distinguish Briarpatch as a model of community-supported, accountable and independent media.
With a little help from readers like you, we can and will emerge stronger from this crisis.
Please consider subscribing or becoming a sustainer. Tomorrow’s rebels, rabble-rousers and radicals will thank you for your support today.
Dave Oswald Mitchell
p.s. To set up your sustaining subscription, please call us at 1-866-431-5777 or email publisher AT briarpatchmagazine DOT com.