Maybe we could have monthly sponsors, kind of like KUOW has daily ones. Maybe local businesses could take a month and we could feature them on the site. My business will take a month! Does anyone have a thought about how much they think this will cost?
Like everybody else I find the community network Ning to be practical and utilitarian. Since I can't go to every meeting, I like being able to browse to catch up with the haps.
And there's a lot to catch up with. I'm willing to fork over the same as for a typical newsletter - $12/year. Beyond this, my thought is that economic sustainability (0h the irony) must be sustainable. If Ning Central has a future, it will be a sustainable one. Let them state their economically sustainable business case, and we can think about buying in or opting out. What are the other Sustainable Seattle Neighborhoods doing (Wallingford, etc.) ? By the way, a sustainable economy is a tricky thing - have we actually had one yet ? Stay tuned, one way or another, this is interesting.
My guess is that it will be priced such that we will be able to keep it going. I think the monthly sponsorship by local businesses is a creative idea and inline with Sust NE goals. We could also have a donation station at the sustainability fair / solar cookout this summer.
The site really serves the group well so I think it's important to find a way to keep it.
Ning has competitors, especially now that money is involved. I have already migrated two other networks I maintain to Spruz and Grou.ps, respectively. They are not quite comparable to Ning in quality but they may be adequate, for the price...free. This is a trial period and the winner from these two will become the new home for my networks..unless I find another.
Isn't it always what you don't know, that comes around to bite you in the ass? Two major unknowns are shaping this discussion: #1. Ning has not announced what pricing structure it will impose; #2. We don't really know how switching to an alternative would match up with the good services that Ning has been providing. If everyone jumps ship how long will it be before the new site decides to shift from free to fees? Certainly the providers of free services will tend to tire of giving without reward for their work. Personally, I don't like working for free; and there is a limit therefore to how long my patience for volunteerism will last.
Yes, we will need to raise funds if we want to continue our relationship with Ning. How we do this will say much about how we self-identify. Right now we have a true democratic model, where anyone can become as involved in the organization as they like. We have no official titles, leadership is defined by the willingness to take action. Money is not a measuring tool to determine whose message is heard. Regardless of anyone's financial situation, they can become involved in their local community, in the pursuit of improving their sustainable way of life. Maintaining these standards must be a determining criteria.
Further, we must recognize the important role that Ning has provided to our founding, and the potentials they provide that have not been fully developed by SustNE. Will those services be replaced by another free service? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that there are many aspects of Ning that we have not fully explored. Partly this is due to an approach to organizing that still centers on monthly meetings. Whatever networking site we build a relationship with, we need to realize the full potentials of networking technology to support our mission; and this should be a determining criteria.
Finally, one thing that I appreciate the Ning site for, is the low-impact advertising that appears on the site while I'm on-line. After a few moments the picture ads disappear, to be replaced by relatively benign "ads by Google." Do we want to replace or add to these ads by injecting our own sponsorship? While I agree that sponsorships would be attractive to me and my business, I'm not sure I want to swap my personal relationship with SustNE for a commercial one. I feel that everyone needs to have a vested interest in the community that SustNE provides, just in order to keep the playing field level. Once we know how much Ning will be charging, we'll know just how much per capita that comes to for our current membership, and that will be a determining criteria.
Eventually Sustainable NE Seattle will have to come to grips with its aversion to money. Frankly, we don't like to think about as much as we should, and there are good reasons for those feelings. But we have to accept that much of what has been happening in SustNE has been at the expense of a few dedicated individuals who keep giving of their resources, without being compensated aside from the good thoughts and feelings of the membership. That's really the way I prefer it, but I'm reminded that burn out occurs, and building a lasting movement has to be our goal.
Seems to me sustainability is all about continually analyzing the current situation against stated goals while persuasively suggesting how to balance what's important. Sustainability includes broad-based affordability for the long haul, the opposite of short term gain. This should continue as an egalitarian movement with style, evidenced by this message string.
I strongly feel that we should keep money raising out of our organization. I really liked your description, Keith, of SustNE having the "true democratic model...where anyone can become involved in the organization as much as they like...and leadership is defined by the willingness to take action." We've got a good thing going!
Burnout happens because people forget to support one another emotionally and spiritually. It doesn't happen because people don't get money for their actions. Maybe it was my upbringing which taught me that money often, and perhaps usually, creates negative motivations, but I feel that that is what is happening to the Ning owners. They're giving in to their greed and turning it all into "You should PAY me!!" I'm sorry, but I find that it is a very small-minded operation that discourages non-profits and volunteerism -- because volunteerism is probably the one place in society where we can feel real social and, for many, spiritual connection.
I say we start to search for another site that hasn't become greedy yet!