The Aletheia of Fundraising
“You alone can do it, but you can’t do it alone.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous
I have two selves inside of me which have not yet found their way to integration.
One is a self that moves slowly, on a kind of a deeply trusting cosmic timing, in touch with a guidance from far beyond the boundaries of my skin. Here every moment is a delicious discovery of the path unfolding under me, calling for my active participation.
The other self, however, understands no such timing nor trustworthy meandering. It sees a goal and wants to get there, and it’s focused on the norms and agreements of our culture in a very literal sense. It wants to be the Trustworthy One, the guaranteed Maker of Things Happening, ah yes, the everpresent Doer [insert superhero cape snapping jauntily in the wind]. “You have a task, you say? I can accomplish it!” It’s beautiful, this self; noble even in both its innocence and earnestness. But the truth is that this self is not the prime mover of reality, nor is it even the prime mover of my own life’s unfolding.
I recently read this send-out from Harbin Hot Springs about their rebuilding process. After three long years the pools are finally completed -to the tune of about $10 million. A success! And… they are struggling. Can we help? Can we donate to their fundraising campaign so that they can keep going? Maybe it will take another $50 million to build out the rest of their infrastructure so the resort can again operate as it once did. “Now is the time to give more than ever before!” they say again and again. But after reading this update I came away feeling leaden, tired and queasy. There was something uncomfortable pushing its way into my consciousness.
Could it be simply that it seems like literally everyone right now is fundraising or in need of money? We have “Giving Tuesday” now, which feels like an attempt to even further commercialize the act of giving. I mean, oof, are others also overwhelmed by this new normal? And, with so many fundraisers for good causes, relevant works, and personally bankrupting medical expenses abounding, who’s to choose our cause at Aletheia Springs over an entire world in such real need?
Or could it be that Harbin’s fundraising ask mirrored our own at Aletheia but on an order of magnitude that just simply overwhelmed my nervous system even trying to imagine it? Or was the tiredness I felt from the sheer weight of living in our late-stage capitalist society where worthy organizations the world over must constantly raise money for the right to exist simply because their product or service attempts to offer something beautiful which doesn’t extract from people or planet?
But it wasn’t just the tiredness. It was the sticky icky feeling, too.
Suddenly I flashed on the image of Hillary Clinton on her campaign trail. Specifically, when she collapsed on the tarmac from sickness and exhaustion. I remember how, for me, it was then that her veneer seemed to crack, revealing a rare glimpse into the real person -exhausted, afraid, trying to “hold it all together” and appear “totally on top of things.” Many people complained about a kind of a falseness they felt from her, a disingenuousness. They wanted to feel the real HRC, warts and all; they wanted to feel her soul. It caused them not to vote for her. But I can only imagine her struggle. How on earth could she show her insecurity? Her fears? Her gloriously human limitations? Would we vote for her if she was more transparent? If we truly saw her in her raw totality?
I realized that Harbin’s letter reminded me of Hillary Clinton and it had made me a bit queasy and uncomfortable because I wasn’t sure which “self” Harbin wanted me to see -the Harbin team that’s doing a rockstar job and appears to “have it all together,” or the other one that is actually afraid, exhausted, and in deep and tenuous need -a need that reveals the reality of our complete and unutterably vulnerable interdependence. The truth that we actually need each other to make this whole thing work.
It was easy, then, to see myself and our own Aletheia project and campaign reflected in the gestalt laid out now before me… and to see the source of my uneasiness. I have these same two selves in me. And which one was I hoping you will all see and connect with in trust?
I both am (and we are) on top of things
and doing one helluva rockstar job and…
…in so many ways I have no control over the outcome.
I both deeply grok how much it’s totally up
to me/us what happens, if we are
successful at the Springs or not, and…
…it’s also totally not up to me/us if we are successful.
I both feel confident and optimistic about
the amazing progress we’ve made and the
incredible numbers we’re posting in our
third year and…
…I am every day with the very real possibility of foreclosure
within the next two years if we’re unable to find the last
funding sources we need to meet our refinance goals.
I both am asking you, World, to trust me,
to have utter confidence in our capacity and
dedication, to give me this chance, and…
…I can give no god-like pronouncement or guarantee
that we will all be successful and live happily ever after.
If I allow in the fact that some sort of ultimate predictability and control are indeed comforting illusions, if I come out and openly say that I know the Emperor Has No Clothes, that I cannot dominate and control the outcome of the world, my life, or this project, then am I still trustworthy in the eyes of those whom I vitally depend upon for support?
I’d like to imagine that those who would financially support our project at the Springs are not the type to be so easily swayed by such things, that they aren’t so easily blown off course and are just as dedicated to truth and complexity as I am. I’d like to imagine that they grok the Naked Emperor of our current financial and political institutions while soberly recognizing that these institutions are indeed not “too big to fail.” It’s only a matter of time before everything changes again, and I’d like to imagine that these are the folks who deeply care about what it changes into.
I’m hopeful that, with of all the shocks and tremors in our global systems, people everywhere are starting to get a clearer idea about what money even is, how it moves in our world, how we can relate to it, and perhaps most importantly, that money is not actual wealth nor security -it’s a proxy for real wealth and true security.
I’d like to imagine that, knowing all this, huge amounts of people (even many we know in our own networks) are deliberately working their edges to invest their lives back into primary wealth: land, water, health, family, relationships of trust, community, energy and food sovereignty and resiliency, access to nature, ecosystemic health, meaningful soul work, a life of spiritual contact, etc. With the climate, social and global market shocks to come, it is my hope that this is where so many understand true security to exist.
Yet, for all that, this year the fundraising was HARD. Like swimming through molasses hard. Or calling out into the wind and trying to be heard hard. The money has just not. been. easily. coming.
My inner Hillary Clinton admonishes, “better watch out,” and yammers on at me about the “psychology of fundraising” and how, in this culture, we’re scared of each other’s genuine needs; it brings up our own.
I’m guilty of this, too. When a person or organization is super needy I catch myself wondering whether or not it means they’re somehow untrustworthy or insolvent. I notice I’ll often look for reasons to doubt them or pick apart their ask to see where they’re not being self-responsible. These perfunctory narrative grooves of a society which worships the lone gritty hero, the self-made man, also run deep in me.
In our culture, it’s also a known thing that we often won’t put our money into something until it’s already succeeding. And it’s far easier to give freely to those who don’t have Big Needs. The 1% don’t give their financial support most freely to other wealthy people simply from greed; it’s also because the alternative, the seeming hungry ghost of the rest of the world’s needs, can be terrifying.
While it’s important to know that a project’s founders have the capacity to really pull their project off, that they are indeed self-responsible, there is also a big part of us that just wants to jump onboard a sure thing, a happening boat that’s for sure going somewhere exciting. We want to be on the winning team, and we like people at the helm who say that they are in control. Furthermore, it’s quite difficult to fully let in just how much our own participation, or lack thereof, actually impacts the very outcomes we’re waiting to see play out from a safe distance.
But I no longer believe my inner Hillary Clinton. She may be loyal and she’s a dedicated worker but she doesn’t have the way of it. She is disingenuous. I’m not going for the polished look of outward success whilst my clever Doer attempts to strategically maneuver some desired outcome from behind closed doors such that you won’t even know I broke a sweat! I don’t really believe that even works for most people these days anyway. Does it?
Besides, I’m far more interested in being truthful. In waking up together and getting there together. In open source software. In whistleblowing on ourselves. My heart loves and trusts in transparent Truth, self-revealing Truth (which is the meaning of aletheia). It’s the foundation of this project, after all, the foundation of my Yes, my Why and my How. I must go with this.
I also have to believe that being transparent with the truth of my experience can only contribute in some small way to the greater research of so many others who also struggle with these very same questions;
How do you raise capital in a conscious way?
How do we trust completely in that which cannot be
controlled and quantified in the old ways?
How do we structure our lives and our organizations so we're
not unwittingly perpetuating the very same patterns of
extraction that we’re attempting to move beyond?
Some part of me is now hollering (the Hillary Clinton part) “Careful! They’ll get the wrong idea about this project!” That voice is tempting me to go into several paragraphs where I now work to convince you that we do have a very salient and doable financial strategy, with safety and hedges built in at each step of the way, yadda yadda. Look at the website, isn’t it great, yadda yadda. If we are forced to sell everyone will get their money back, etc. etc.
And that’s all true, and important. However, if someone is reading this and that’s where their deepest, most fundamental concerns are, then they’re probably not the people who are going to be helping us pull it off (even when they sincerely love us and wish us well). Anyway, the aim of the Aletheia project is far beyond the hope that “everyone just gets their money back” and we’d all shake hands and walk away. We don’t want to have to sell the Springs, ever, if we can help it. But we did create a resilient enough plan such that if the worst happens we can land on our feet, dust off, and try it again somewhere else.
Okay, if you’ve gotten this far, thank you. You’re clearly in the learning and in the growing pains with us! One of the biggest lessons we’ve taken from this last year is that everyone in our system, including our wider network of allies and supporters, really needs a more experiential understanding of what our mission and vision actually feels like beyond just a conceptual understanding. To feel with us in their bones why this so deeply matters.
So, we are focused in this next year on how we can begin offering immersive experiences which create just that kind of value with daylongs, retreats and residential immersion experiences. More to come on that -stay tuned!
Perhaps far beyond trusting in the transparent sharing of research “field notes” from the project, it is through these kinds of immersive, direct experiences with the vision, the land and the waters that potential new coworkers and supporters (both financial and otherwise) will themselves come into contact with that which has been guiding us; with the complex and yet paradoxically empty center from which we’re listening.
Perhaps more people can directly know, then, how it is that we are trusting and actively engaging in the unfolding of this vision and this place as its own Being. And they will rejoice in being well met by others, like themselves, who are no longer attempting to rigidly dominate things through the sheer force of heroic and solo willpower, but who are instead offering their full-bodied “Yes!” to every miraculous unfolding moment and its call for our active co-creation.
I hope you will join us for this next leg of the journey. We’re not just looking for people to invest their money in our project - we are looking for people to be a participant in the direct experience of its fruition!
In dedication to...
the Love of Truth & the Truth of Love, Laurie Hobbs
An Aletheia Steward at Morton's Warm Springs 1651 Warm Springs Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442 c. (510) 366-5067 | www.MortonsWarmSprings.com | www.AletheiaSprings.com