I’ve been thinking a lot about passive supporters recently, and how we transform them into active supporters. I manage a few communities, and I’ve always come up against a Pareto weighted breakdown of participation: 20% of the people involved make 80% of the effort required to keep the community/enterprise/initiative going. Which is not sustainable (can we say: burnout?).
I’m thinking about solutions. Maybe we need to consider active expansions and contractions. Maybe on a regular cycle you need to rededicate to your core audience, to draw a line and define what it means to be a supporter. At this point, you may well lose some of the “passive support”. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that allows you to move forward with clarity and focus, which could in turn entice new supporters? Something like razing a field to have it grow back. Burn it all down, but the enterprise (if strong enough) will survive…
When we teach poetry, we often encourage poets to deepen their internal focus or extend their technical range and critical faculties. How often do we encourage people to engage with other people, other perspectives? To not just look beyond themselves, but to actually attend to other people, real people, in a meaningful and authentic way?
"I have no shrewd advice to offer developing writers about this business of snatching time and space to work. I do not have anything profound to offer mother-writers or worker-writers except to say that it will cost you something. Anything of value is going to cost you something."
—Toni Cade Bambara, author, filmmaker, feminist, professor and social activist