Why I'm Sticking With My Terrible Economic Model
It’s been just over a year now since I got my first van and set off on this odyssey into the unknown to explore my experiences with depression and anxiety. It’s been difficult, and challenging at times, and it will continue to be in many ways, but it has also been beautiful, transformational and has changed my whole experience of the world and humanity.
When I started this journey I imagined I would do this for a year and then feel ready to go back into my previous life — now I know it is not about being fixed and going back. It’s about the here and now. It’s about the future. I’m excited to see what the next year of Ministry of Change will bring. I have some exciting opportunities coming up, some difficult decisions to navigate and a whole world of experiences and stories to explore.
The Present and The Future
Since last September I’ve spent a lot of time outside. I’ve talked to lots of people. I’ve listened to lots of people. I’ve gained a new perspective on the world and on myself.
I’ve shared and collected stories. I’ve just released the 23rd episode of the podcast and I have lots of wonderful stories waiting to be edited and shared.
I no longer feel terrible most of the time. That to me shows that I’m doing something right.
I’m excited for the next phase, which I think will involve handing over the mic to invite people to record their own conversations. I’m thinking about what that will look like now.
Trying something new always feels difficult. Over the past year I’ve created lots of spaces to talk about mental health. It’s something I’m passionate about and something I have no desire to stop doing anytime soon.
The Work Continues
According to the Samaritans in 2017 there were 6,213 recorded suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Project 84 highlights the startling fact that 84 men take their lives every week in the UK.
This alone shows me why I will continue doing this work.
Over the course of the year I’ve heard so many stories of suffering and of triumph. I’ve been amazed by the power we have as humans to hold so many turbulent and traumatic experiences and still find the energy to shine and inspire.
I guess one of the things I struggle with are that the results of creating spaces to talk about mental health are mostly intangible. They are the messages I receive from someone saying that they listened to something I recorded or read something I wrote and that it helped them and gave them solace. They are in having the privilege of spending time with so many beautiful, vulnerable people. They are in the fact that I no longer feel terrible most of the time.
These outcomes do not adhere to the ‘metrics of success’ that I grew up believing to be true. The things above are the things that keep me going when the world seems to suggest that I ‘should’ be climbing a career ladder or thinking more about my pension.
Everytime I start to doubt whether what I’m doing is the best thing I could be doing I can remember those statistics from the Samaritans. I can remember the people that I have lost to depression. I can think back to the people who have shared their deeply personal stories with me and I can remember the times when I found everyday a struggle to get through.
For me depression, anxiety and how we really experience life are very real and alive. I know that talking about the highs and lows of life is transformational. It is challenging, but it is also the thing which can help you see and understand the real beauty of people and the world.
Navigating a New Economy
I initially had a grant to get this project up and running. Now a year in, I’m looking for new ways to make this project more sustainable. Part of that has been in reframing how I live my life, to essentially not need so much money to survive. That has been a hard at times, but ultimately it has made me much happier. It made me put my trust in the kindness of friends and strangers. It’s meant swallowing my pride and asking for help, sleeping on sofas and asking people to trust me. It has given me a huge dose of faith in humanity.
While this can go a long way, we live in a world where money exists. There is nothing wrong with money, money can be a very good thing. It can facilitate real change. I know this. However, by stepping out into the unknown and building my own path, I’m yet to land in that utopia of balance where purpose and economics skip happily through the fields of life.
Crowdfunding seems like a good way to go, and I’ve been trying to experiment with what that looks like through the platform, Patreon. Traditionally crowdfunding works along the model that more money you donate the ‘better’ the reward.
This initially felt tricky. I worked out a long list of tiers and different rewards but it didn’t sit right with me. So, I wanted to try something a bit different. For this project there seemed to be something uncomfortable about having ‘better rewards’ for giving more money.
I feel that money is such a relative thing. For someone being able to give £2 a month might mean the same as someone else that can give £200. The starting blocks of life are different for each individual.
I’d love to be able to give access to all the additional content to anyone who has the generosity to support the project.
When I launched the campaign 3 months ago I wrote this: “I’m not sure how this will work, but I’d like to give it a go and hope it doesn’t go against other people’s ideas of how this should work”.
Assessing after 3 months, I’m still not sure how it is working, but for now I’m sticking with it. As I write I have 18 Patrons and make $130 a month from the page. I know it’s not a lot of money, but it is a lot of people. I find it unbelievable that there are 18 people out there who place their trust in me and believe in what I’m doing. And I know in reality that number is way higher than 18.
I think my economy of compassion is a pretty terrible economic model in terms of accumulating wealth, but it is one that feels right for me. It feels like the only model I can and want to use right now.
I’m sure I could ‘grow’ this project faster and feel more financially secure by using a different model, but for now I’m continuing to use my pay what you can, access everything model.
That’s what my intuition is telling me to do, so I’ll turn of my rational mind and follow my deeper knowing.
Thank You For Being You
I’d like to know what your thoughts on my Patreon page and approach are. If you can support me with your money, then I’d love and appreciate that. If you can’t, then helping me to share my posts and leaving a review for the podcast on iTunes would be a huge help to me.
Thank you for everyone that has been able to support me so far. The people I’ve shared food with. The people who I’ve shared stories with. The people who have invited me to stay in their driveways. To each and every person that has allowed Ministry of Change to be what it has been, and to each and every person who will enable it to evolve into what it will become.
Thanks for being you,