Proposal for Restructuring the Awarepreneurs Community
Have you noticed that these are quite poignant times for many people? I hope you are taking good care of yourselves.
Two things have been happening simultaneously that have been significantly impacting the Awarepreneurs community of late. First, there is the context of events in the larger culture - like increased violence and visibility by white supremacy groups like we saw in Charlottesville and an increase of dialogues about sexual harrassment/sexual assualt around the world due to the #metoo movement. Second, there was a series of events in a large social impact oriented Facebook group called We Are the Culture Makers (it's beyond the scope of this post to outline those events). There's a quite a bit of overlap between Awarepreneurs and We Are the Culture Makers.
With events like these, things started heating up in the Awarepreneurs Facebook community over August, September and October. After a) getting feedback from a number of people (especially people of color) that they have rising concerns about safety and b) seeing the levels of criticisim and attack rising among members (and also coming my way), it’s time to acknowledge that there are changes needed in our community.
Our core values - and that of many of our members - include a focus on addressing social realities that have been generations in the making. There is no way to really have the impact we say we want to have without dialoguing about some challenging topics.
Awarepreneurs strives to be an inclusive organization and there will ALWAYS be ways people can benefit and take part in our offerings regardless of whether they are able to commit in a more significant way. For instance, our podcast features sector leaders, the Launch Monday! Facebook live show that happens every Monday showcases innovative offerings in our sector and our newsletter are all free and available to everyone with no membership required.
At the same time, in order to provide a container that contributes to our member's success and safety, we are proposing a restructure of the community aspect of Awarepreneurs that includes 5 action steps:
1) Going to an affordable, buy one/give one membership model. The why of this change is to get the resources we need for more appropriate moderation and support for building our community muscles to dialogue about challenging issues. Please understand, we are committed to being inclusive and no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
We are proposing a basic membership of $10 per month - $5 for one's own membership and $5 to “give one” to make sure we stay inclusive. There will also be the option to just do $5 per month for one’s own membership. On our website will be a simple form to request a "give one" membership for anyone who feels that neither is a viable option for their current situation.
If someone is neither a Patreon supporter nor has requested a "give one" membership, then we will remove that member from the Facebook group.
To give perspective, on November 5th, 2017 when I published this post we had 2664 members, 69 contributing to our Patreon campaign for a total of $912 per month. With the changes, our team anticipates a smaller community of 200-500 people to start and revenues of at least $2000 per month thru our Patreon Campaign. In talking with our new Advisory Board members (see #3 below) it feels aligned for Awarepreneurs to go deeper with a smaller and more committed community and then grow from there.
2) Add paid moderation and moderator approved posts. I’ve spoken with Reva Patwardhan of www.dialoguelab.org and she’s agreed to come on board at a minimum of 20 hours per month in a paid moderator role. We will ask the community to ensure we get funded at the level of at least $2000 per month to fund this. As membership levels and funding grow, we can add additional moderation hours as needed. The role of the moderator will be to help resource our community for the kinds of dialogues effective social impact work takes, help look through posts for approval and to be a resource in situations where difficult dynamics arise.
Reva will be doing this for 6 weeks to help us develop a model for moderation. There will be opportunity for feedback and then we’ll evaluate what we've learned during the 6 weeks.
3) Launch the Awarepreneurs Advisory Board. It’s time for a leadership circle that larger than one (currently our founder Paul Zelizer is the only designated leader). The job of the Advisory Board are to a) make sure the organization is paying attention to important issues in our community and our sector, b) help design policies needed for Awarepreneurs to be a safe and inclusive space and c) look at organization structural issues – like how does Awarepreneurs structure itself to ensure member’s contributions are seen and valued?
3 members have said yes thus far (below) and I'm in dialogue with several other dynamic sector leaders:
4) Add facilitated networking so members get to know each other off of Facebook. We will add monthly facilitated calls via Zoom that allow members to get to know each other and our businesses better. This includes who has innovative programs launching that we can support as a community as well as resources to make sure that our referral networks are full of diverse and talented entrepreneurs. We will also explore how to help each other get more referrals as well as better collaborate for the success of our members.
5) Launch a series of workshops around building our dialogue muscles. We will work with community leaders to offer skill building workshops to understand and address our ability as social entrepreneurs to better understand, dialogue about and effectively make change around social issues like structural inequalities.
NOTE: We will be doing a community call to dialogue about these changes on Wednesday, November 8th @ 1pm Pacific/3pm Eastern. Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/968787108
Our founder's role
As founder, I dedicate many hours each week to serving and growing the Awarepreneurs community. These activities include but are not limited to:
- Develping the vision and direction of Awarepreneurs (with the guidance and support of our new Advisory Board)
- Providing leadership
- Creating structures to sustain and grow the organization
- Moderating the Awarepreneurs Facebook group (which under this proposal I will share with Reva Patwardhan)
- Networking and building the community referral base
- Expanding Awarepreneurs ability to market our member's products & services
- The Awarepreneurs Podcast
- The Launch Monday! Interview show
- Sharing resources and referrals
- And much more.
Thank you for your patience and feedback,
Paul Zelizer, Founder