THE POLITICS OF PROMOTION
WORDS & IMAGE: KATE WEINER
Several weeks ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who runs her own non-profit. She's an energetic environmental steward whose compassionate approach to sustainable living has made her an inspiration to many. Although she's had tremendous success, she still struggles to ask for help. Folks seem surprised that a strong Instagram following isn't enough to provide her the financial foundation to coordinate her workshops and grow her reach.
As we talked, I realized that I've been struggling with these same issues through my work with Loam. Loam has been my passion project for many years. I love what I do so damn much. I love learning from amazing artists and activists and collaborating with inspiring friends. I love writing stories that give hope, researching articles that provide grounded-in-reality solutions to the climate crisis, and coordinating in-person workshops. It humbles me to hear from people—many of whom don't look like me or live like me—that Loam is a welcoming space for them to explore environmentalism. My hope is for Loam to be as much a playful platform for digging into everything that's juicy and joyous about this world as it is an authentic resource for navigating the embodied trauma of living through climate change. To know that Loam can be that for our growing community is truly the sweetest.
Seeing how Loam resonates with diverse folks has given me the drive to do more with this magazine. I want to grow Loam into a thriving movement. I want to pay myself and my incredible contributors. I want to provide artist-activist workshops at little-to-no cost to the community. And I want to continue to publish our print magazines to share with our blossoming network of movers & makers.
But all of this requires money. And in asking for money, I've found myself face-to-face with the complicated politics of promotion. It feels weird sometimes. Like I'm asking others to finance the time I spend making art even though I know Loam isn't just for me. Everything I do, I do to build connections, fortify community, and share hope. I not only believe in myself but I also believe in the good work Loam is doing to inspire activism and open up the environmental movement.
I've sustained Loam through grants, personal investment, and the generosity of our Patreon supporters (I'm grateful to the moon and back to our patrons. You help make Loam a living thing!) In spite of that, I'm still felled by the fear that I'm asking for too much. I worry others will perceive Loam as less "legitimate" because we aren't yet financially viable. I wonder if people expect me to have it down because we've published several magazines. And I fear that in failing to make a hearty profit, I'm failing our contributors who I desperately want to pay in support of their gorgeous art and meaningful activism.
On my better days, I'm able to show compassion for my little ol' self. It takes time to grow a project and this last year I've watched the seeds I planted for Loam germinate and grow. I feel lucky beyond words to have family support and savings and a part-time job and a community of friends who make me believe in my work, encourage me to value my time, and inspire me to nurture Loam in new directions.
I'm choosing share my discomfort and self-doubt in asking for help because I know it's a struggle I'm not alone in. Throughout my work, I've met many environmentalists, makers, dreamers, and schemers who wrestle with these issues. How can we create financially viable organizations without compromising our integrity? How can we work both within and outside of the capitalist system? How can we support ourselves and others in the pursuit of regenerative work?
I don't have the answers. Only little glimmers! That's why I so want to hear your thoughts on the politics of promotion. What lessons have you learned that have helped you find value in asking for help? What do you do to sustain motivation? Share in the comments, and together, tet's inspire each other to speak our truths and pursue our passions. With love and a willingness to learn. Every. Damn. Day.