I am ten days from launching an ambitious crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and I am blocked from friending anyone for a couple more weeks on Facebook. This is the 3rd or 4th time this has happened in the last three months, and I am also blocked from sending messages to people I do not know on Facebook indefinitely. This is a bit of an issue since one of my rewards for the campaign is something that gets shared on the persons wall, and this challenge will not make, or break my projects emergence.
Facebook is Not My God
Social Media has taken a powerful place in our modern landscape, and I believe we are attempting to fill needs through its interface that were once satisfied through more communal, ceremonial, and soulful experiences. Crowdfunding is a part of this new emerging landscape of how we connect, a place for gathering tribes and resources for projects of the heart, and we need to welcome the sacred into this revolution through the ethers. Part of the paradigm shift we are in is about claiming our individual power while still being dedicated, and responsible members of the collective. Facebook is both the New Reality, and simultaneously the old, patriarchal, power-over structure. As I navigate my crowdfunding launch, the struggles I have experienced on Facebook put into perspective the ideas about how much influence any online forum has to support or stifle a person, career or social movement through its inherent power to disseminate information.
Out of this inquiry into how intention affects the mysterious destiny of any projects trajectory, I realized that Facebook is not my God. It is not the source of my creative inspirations, nor the master controlling my works emergence in the world. It is one tool, one location among many that will play in my evolution, but the fate of my projects does not begin and end at Mark Z’s virtual Timelines and Fan Pages.
Part of the issue with Facebook is that it is like a wild, out-of-control, hormonal teenager who is constantly responding to external stimuli without the grounded wisdom of the Elder. Facebook exploded like a virus, and it has been trying to catch up ever since. I like Facebook, and it also drives me nuts how often they change everything, and how deceptive, vague, and difficult they are making it for people sincerely wishing to promote their businesses there. Does how many people ‘saw’ your post actually mean anything?
Facebook is just mirroring Western societies current impulsive, self-absorbed, juvenile energies. In Bill Poltkin’s brilliant book, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness in a Fragmented World, he has designed a soul-centric wheel of human development with eight stages to maturity, and he suggests we are stuck in the ‘patho-adolescent’ stage. Rebellious teenagers can be a hell of a lot of fun, but we also need a more seasoned perspective on something that affects so many people’s lives. Like crowdfunding, Facebook has such powerful potentials, and WE must step into being the Elders to carry the long-sighted visions for the world we want to create, online and off; not feeding another place to be distracted, superficial, and checked-out from real connections. We need way-showers who embody the measured wisdom of people who have grown down into their knowing through having experienced many seasons.
I came to Facebook through the seductive pull of my own adolescence, and the potential of seeing punk rock pictures from my high school years. This was about five or six years ago, and I had been avoiding it, thinking it was an off-shoot of MySpace, another thing I thought was just for teenagers. But it was my longtime friend, Angela Rossana Smith, that said, “You have to see some of the old-school pictures people are posting.” That was it, and over the next two days, I spent eight hours each day uploading, on a very slow connection, a ton of my old punk and grunge images from Seattle in the 1980s. I can be an obsessive person, but I really dove in here. And over the last five or so years I have almost deleted my profiles so often, because Facebook just keeps getting more and more cryptic, confusing, and frustrating. But I don’t, because really, I do enjoy it. I like the image sharing, connecting with people I do not see in my daily life, and I like to meet new people who share similar interests. So I am totally down with the basic “idea” of Facebook, but I think it is a victim of its own success, wandering in the bardo state between a utopian vision of people across the globe connecting, and the worst of capitalisms greedy, fearful, and controlling energies. I don’t think Facebook has an overall plan beyond reaping the financial benefits of their massive user-base. They are just bouncing between regulations and customer responses, changing their tactics by the moment to try and ride the wild stallion that is beyond anyones control.
Everything on the internet is like a wild stallion galloping at lightening speed. I have recently been working on my email list from the last ten years, more on that later, and I noticed a lot more Hotmails & Yahoos from friends in the past than I see these days. Seems like today most people I know have a Gmail account. It makes me think of Betamax and VHS, or even LaserDiscs, technology constantly evolving. With all of this rapid online change, being an artist, and a business person I get to figure out how to keep up with it. Going into this crowdfunding campaign I knew I was going to need to step up my online engagement, and this blocking on Facebook has been a blessing to remind me that building a career is a steady process of diligently making good work, and then showing up with integrity and grace in many locations to genuinely connect with others. One platform, one system, one organization will never make a solid foundation. As Robert Place offered in the interview I did with him on his own Tarot deck crowdfunding campaigns, computers are helpful, but we still have to do much of the same work we did before.
I have had to decide where I will focus my resources, and where to let it go. I can do Facebook, and my Blog, and will reconnect with Pinterest because it is really attractive, and that goes a long way for me. Those are the big three I can commit to without going sideways. I have not gotten into Instagram, I am a Hipstamatic fanatic myself, so I guess I chose sides. Twitter gives me a panic attack. I joined while having a bout of house-bound-stir-craziness after being sick, but the expectation of chatting all the time freaks me out. It takes a lot for me to show up to the places I am online, and still DO the work, go outside, eat well, and have a life. So Dear Twitter, my campaign will need to make it without heavy rotation on you.
The Golden Mailing List
I mentioned email lists earlier, and that is where you hold the most power to grow your A-Team tribe. I had worked with a metaphysical business coach some years ago, Elizabeth Purvis, and she said to harvest your people off of Facebook because if it went belly-up tomorrow, you would lose all those contacts. Since the time I worked with her, I have seen that happen, my 920 ‘likes’ on my Facebook Oracle of Initiation page being nearly useless now for how they block contacting my fans. So I have been tackling my email list, a chore I have put off for many years. I am revisiting some historic friends from the horse years, shamanic quests, Pratt Fine Arts Center classes, and Seattle, New Mexico, and San Diego communities that I look forward to reconnecting with. And as my list grows, no change in the ‘platform of the month’ will affect the people who really wish to share in my creations. It has been as much work as I feared organizing all of this, and costs more than I thought, but a shout out goes to Constant Contact. Not the cheapest, but last week I had one of the top five most wonderful customer service experiences I have ever had, so to me, it is worth it. Unlimited, patient, intelligent telephone customer service is priceless.
Being blocked is a bit of a pain, there have been Tarot conversations I have wanted to chime in on that I couldn’t because I was not already friends with the person (come friend me Bill Tarot), and a few early collectors of my Oracle of Initiation deck that I needed updated emails from that are on Facebook, but we are not friends at the blocked Mellissae Lucia, so I will get around it. I have googled them, considered Linkedin, and even reached out to one person with my second personal Facebook account with my legal name. So I am finding other ways around this, being adaptable, curious and inventive. And that is what we really have folks, our ingenuity in the coming eras. As one of my teachers Beatrex Quntanna says, the future’s solid gold is your creativity. Agreed.
The Power of the Video
Earlier this week my biggest pressure in this entire process was taken care of. We filmed the video, and it went well! Hallelujah!!!! There is a valid reason people resist being in their videos, it is intimidating to know you will be observed and scrutinized at such an intimate level. I have always been a really aware person, and out of that has come an acute sense of self-consciousness. Combine that with being a recovering perfectionist, and some normal human insecurities, and being filmed is frightening. I got to deal with all of this three years ago when MK Barr made the Painted in the Desert documentary about my journeys in New Mexico, and the artists I grew up with. For four months we went to different studios and homes and interviewed my creative tribe about how they have survived and thrived with art as their day gig. At first I was really nervous, and then through repeated immersion I sank into myself and did pretty well. So here we are again, three years later, and I needed to let go of those residual fears about being able to relax in front of the camera and share my sincerity about my Oracle of Initiation crowdfunding project.
I had done some practice filming over the last months, but the morning I tried to do the video alone, I was TENSE. I have had a difficult time figuring out how to both honor that this project came out of a totally shattering experience, and that I am now twelve years beyond it, and am in a great place. I do not wish to trivialize the traumatic part of the story, and through the initiatory process, I created the life I always dreamed of. As I sat in my apartment alone, time after time trying to roll out the portions of the story, the basis of the campaign, and the pitch and perks, it felt forced. I was not sharing my best self.
I called MK, my technology goddess, as well as a trusted ally from making the movie and the other projects we have done over the last ten years and told her about my struggles. We are both very strong-willed and opinionated, so when we work together we are conscious of being respectful of the other person’s perspective. She said straight out, “There are very few times I will tell you this, but you MUST let me help you here. You cannot do it alone.” To say I was relieved is an understatement. I have some old patterns of having to do it all myself, partly because I have such high-standards that I can have a hard time with folks doing it differently than I would have. So we planned for me to come over to Seattle the next week to film, praying that the weather gods would bless us with sunshine.
We both knew the environment where we filmed was essential to visualizing the story, and getting me into my most natural, relaxed state. I said I wanted to film down in graffiti tunnels, one of the major locations for creating my Oracle deck in New Mexico, and MK had a spot in mind. The location ended up being a place I partied as a teenager, but I had not been there in thirty years. If you know Seattle, its in the Arboretum, under the ghostly 520 bridges to nowhere, and it is covered in glorious graffiti now. Perfect. And it wasn’t raining.
As we headed down for the shoot, I saw in the distance a really striking piece of graffiti. I walked over that way, and was blown away by the beauty of this portrait. I have been a Hip Hop fanatic since I was twelve years old, and this image is one of the top three most gorgeous aerosol artworks I have seen in the last thirty-three years. I will not give away who it is, you will have to see the video in ten days, but it occurred to me that it was also a representation of one of my major guardians and allies in this entire process. Life is not random folks, we are drawn to places, people, events and experiences that create the tapestry of our destinies. We just get to follow the inspirations, and decode what the next steps are.
To Do List
I still have a ton of stuff to do, the major pieces are finishing up my mailing list categories; learning how to send newsletters to specific lists; decoding how to do a newsletter with images, and then sending them out; preparing more of the rewards; getting together the ambassador resources; finishing up the enormous task of updating the websites; and then getting the draft of the campaign written and posted to Indiegogo. Wow. Overall I have loved this entire process. I have so much energy that I need to have something to sink my teeth into, and this has been one hell of a bite.
Love to the Mamas
And big love to all the mamas tomorrow on Mothers Day, and to all the ways we birth our blessed offerings. Love you LLW, thanks for giving me life, and RMS, you are always in my heart.
The Oracle of Initiation new Tarot-Sized edition at $44 Indiegogo Campaign is live now, 5-20-14 to 6-21-14.