The reasons my blog is not sustainable. Nor am I.

Via Sustainability.com

My blog is not sustainable

People often point out to me that my blog model is not sustainable. They seem to think this is important information for me, something I don’t know. Mediasplaining, perhaps?

Should sustainability aka financial self-sufficiency define the value of media? Or the folx creating the media? Should it define anyone? Does it really mean financial independence?

My blog. Still not sustainable

For nearly twenty years, I have paid out of pocket for the costs of running this blog – webhosting, URLs, software, web design, etc. It was an investment in myself and my community.

Yes, I did try Google Ads and now the SheMediaNetwork to generated some income, but that is less than $40/month. I set up donation buttons, created a Patreon, and even worked with coders to develop Steel City Snowflakes to capture recurring donations. All met with moderate success, but certainly not enough to be considered sustainable.

I love those people who did enroll because they show up for the blog without expecting the trappings of rewards and incentives. I don’t have the time or energy to create barriers to content.

The blog is not sustainable. But then again, neither am I.

But we both still matter. 

My childhood was not sustainable

I was born into a family rife with secrets – alcoholism, spousal abuse, long-lost aunts, and protecting the biggest secret of them all – a family elder was a repeat sexual assailant for decades. His abuse and the cover-up by most of the family poisoned all of us. No one was untouched. Including me. I witnessed him assault women in my family and I was groomed throughout my entire childhood.

At birth, my mother was unable to care me and had to be hospitalized due to the abuse she endured. I had five sets of aunts and uncles plus my maternal grandmother. I also had great aunts and uncles and adult cousins. So where did I end up while my mother was hospitalized? 

Yes, with the exalted leader of our family cult. My aunts and uncles paid for Catholic schools, beach houses, and more. They never paid a cent to rescue me and my brother. They never asked about it, never said a word. But years of investigation and asking questions convinces me that they all knew.

Alcoholism and gambling left us in grinding cycles of poverty. My mother’s mental health never truly recovered. We were often hungry, desperate for affection, and mostly ignored. 

My childhood was not sustainable. 

But we both earned master’s degrees. We built our own lives. 

I don’t want to speak for my brother. 

I’ve taken multiple tests assessing my childhood. ACE test, adverse childhood experience test or childhood trauma test scores responses from questions about abuse, trauma, neglect, or even growing up with parents that struggle with mental health or substance abuse.  

My score is 9 out of 10. I was exposed to every form of trauma except having a family member incarcerated. 

If the exalted leader had been incarcerated for his crimes, I am confident my score would improve. Only three adults – all women – in my life that I know of even tried to hold him accountable. That was in the 40s and 60s so you can imagine how far they got.

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My financial situation is not sustainable

As an adult, I am totally and permanently disabled. I earn about $1200/month. My wife brought home more than 80% of our family income. When I left the paid workforce, I was earning about $41,000 – the most ever in my life. I live in a two female household, so there’s no “male” income to offset the difference in women’s pay.

And I’ve only had my income and the generosity of friends for the past six months. That’s humbling.

My financial security is not sustainable. 

My freedom is not sustainable

My struggles with mental illness are well documented. I was detained by the police with an invalid civil commitment warrant and held against my will for hours until other people said I was not a threat. And I know that could happen again. The only resistance is memorizing the phone numbers for my lawyers and therapist. And trusting that I can survive even this again. I won’t be broken, but I am smart enough to know that if this happened to me one time, it could happen again. No level of government protected me or my rights.

I still cannot ride in a car driven by strangers because it reminds me of being hadcuffed into a cruiser by police. I struggle to walk across the threshhold of the door to my home because I hear that clicking sound each time. I flinch when I hear or see a police vehicle. I wake up screaming. I don’t trust any doctors. My psych provider is a CRNP. It’s better that way.

I am stuck because I don’t have access to a car.

My freedom is not sustainable. 

My civil rights are not sustainable. 

I did not have money for a retainer in Family Court. People donated, I hired a lawyer, and fought for my rights. For months and months. And many more more months to go.

Yes, there pro bono programs. Of course I utilized them. The first thing the pro bono director told me is that I would need my own lawyer. As I moved through the travesty that is Family Court systems, I saw so clearly how those with money always prevailed over those who did not have money.

I have three legal rights to live in my home of 18 years – by the simple fact that I had lived there for 18 years and contributed to the household, by marriage, and by Pennsylvania Mental Health Law. Also, by the Temporary PFA I was granted by the Court of Common Pleas. That’s four reasons. By no one could compel anyone to give me a key. It took six months and multiple court battles.

My civil rights are not sustainable. 

Of course my blog model is not sustainable

I have to expend so much energy sustaining my life and actually blogging, I have no time to dive into the sustainability issues. I don’t want to be a ‘content creator’ or an ‘influencer.’ I just want to blog.

No Pittsburgh foundation has ever said “We will invest in queer media” and offered me support..

But a rapidly shrinking queer media market means more work for me to tell our stories. But fewer resources. The delay between my original reporting on the death of Nex Benedict and the story being picked up by queer and mainstream media is clear evidence.

I’ve never been approached by a brand. No one styles a blogger. Right now, I am without a car but I don’t hear any dealers offering to let me drive their logo around. No one wants to sponsor a feral cat colony. Or a lgbtq blog. Those are just not marketable commodities.

My blog is not sustainable. But it is essential, especially as an archive of nearly 20 years of LGBTQ experiences in this region.

I am not sustainable. But I got myself to age 53 and see the importance of asking for help. And not expecting any system to have my back.

How we define sustainable

The key is that sustainability is just not a business model equating financial self-sufficiency with sustainability. But there’s also a broader understanding as the ability to maintain or support a process continuously over time. It doesn’t mean that the process is itself self-reliant. It isn’t just about operating with a profit. There are multiple ways to sustain something.

An example is a board of directors. If they want a certain % in earnings and agree to whatever cost cutting measures are necessary to achieve that, that’s one model that typically sucks the profit from the company with no regard for other sustainability issues. If they want a fair workplace and a good product and adherence to a mission, that’s a different sustainability.

A sustainable conclusion

The facts in my case say that my blog is not sustainable because it cannot cover its own costs. And I am not sustainable because I also cannot cover my own costs, including the costs of the blog.

But should I be sustained even if it requires external intervention? Would that be a reflection of my worth, my contributions as a blogger and social worker? Or would it instead be a reflection of the humanity of those who intervene? And myself?

I would rather run after my own humanity and point towards the humanity of others than desperately chase sustainable sources of income. I’m 53 and can’t run very fast anyway.

My blog is not part of the mainstream media. It’s not a business and not a hobby. I don’t blog to relax. I don’t blog to earn a living. I do blog to pursue my own connection to human experiences, including my own. It is a passion, but it is also a service.

It is most definitely not sustainable.

Must everything be a commodity? Don’t answer that … but I can use your help to continue blogging and manage the injustice in my life. It won’t make me sustainable, but it will help me resist these injustices.

We need your help to save the blog.

For 18+ years,  snowflakes, social justice warriors, and the politically correct have built this blog.

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We need your help to save the blog.

For 18+ years,  snowflakes, social justice warriors, and the politically correct have built this blog.

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