For the past 3+ years, we've published the Strong Towns Blog at least three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) with the occasional bonus post on off days. What started out way back then as two guys responding to my ideas has today grown into a nationwide movement gaining serious momentum. The number of readers we had in a week a couple years ago we now see in an average hour. I can't begin to tell you what that has done for us in terms of validation and motivation. You are all amazing.
This week we need to "go NPR" and ask all of you to help us continue this momentum by making a financial contribution to Strong Towns. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and we need your support. Please consider making a donation today to further the Strong Towns movement.
Throughout this week we're going to give you an inside look at how we operate, what we're doing here and what our plans for the future are. To kick that off, here are a few things about us you may not know:
- We have one, half-time paid staff (that's me), and that's only been the case for the past four months. Prior to that, we had no paid staff. We have very low overhead (no office, phone, copier, etc...) and plan to continue to apply our frugal, yet resilient, Strong Towns philosophy to our own organization. When you consider everything we've accomplished on a total budget that has averaged less than $500 per month over the past three years, you will see that a donation to Strong Towns is a high-return investment.
- Our Curbside Chat program is our most successful initiative, drawing attention literally from around the world. Everytime we hold a Chat, we change the conversation for the community we are in. It is a very powerful program (see for yourself - check out the Companion Booklet). Currently, the demand for Curbside Chats exceeds our capacity. We don't even have the ability, in the hours we have, to simply respond to everyone that has requested a Chat. From start to finish, it takes between $1,500 and $3,500 to put on a Curbside Chat. Our constraint today is purely budgetary.
- In an average week, we'll receive dozens of emails requesting help or assistance in applying a Strong Towns approach to a local project or initiative. We try hard to respond to all of these inquiries, but with our limited staff hours, we've fallen tragically behind. There is so much more we'd love to be able to do here.
- This year we were awarded a grant from the Blandin Foundation, which we began receiving in July. To receive the final two years of the grant award, the conditions of the grant call on us to raise $50,000 before June 30, 2012. So far we have raised just $3,000. We are working to identify other foundation partners, but our approach is so new that we've struggled to break into these established institutions. At the moment, there is a serious risk we won't be able to continue our work at this level beyond next summer.
We're going to have much, much more for you over the course of the week, but right now I would like to issue a challenge. Every day I receive emails, tweets and Facebook messages from people telling me how important the Strong Towns message is to them, what it means in their cities and towns and how they've put Strong Towns principles to work to make the world better. Here's my request to you: let's put a face to those thoughts.
Whether you can or you can't make a donation, pretty much anyone can make a video from their computer or their phone. Your short video will help us tremendously this week and beyond. Here's what I'm asking for:
Take 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds -- whatever it takes -- and tell us all what Strong Towns means to you. Why are you here? What keeps you coming back? How important is what we're doing? What difference does a Strong Towns approach make for you?
To get it all started, here's my contribution.
You can reply to my video with yours or email me the link (or even the whole video) at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be posting them here on the blog, on our YouTube channel, on Facebook and also on Twitter throughout the week.
Thanks everyone, and remember to keep doing what you can to build Strong Towns.