You have tremendous power.
You spend money every single day, and where you spend that money matters tremendously.
Your dollars can be spent to make giant corporations even larger, or they can be used to keep currency in circulation locally, to keep people who safeguard our democracy (i.e. journalists) working, and to keep artists, makers, thinkers, and rebels doing their respective jobs each day. (I suggest the latter.)
Here are quick and effective ways to use your dollars to shape our world for the better.
Subscribe to forms of media that pay journalists.
At a recent political conference I attended, subscribing to a physical newspaper was described as a political act. Pick a paper and get it delivered. If you want to overachieve, get a local and a national paper subscription.
Best of all, newspapers are delivered without a comments section. No angry trolls lurking at the bottom of the page! No clickbait waiting to draw your attention! No news about how to lose 15 pounds using that one secret trick!
Subscribe to media forms that are not owned or influenced by major corporations.
There used to be 10,000 franchises and companies that owned and contributed to our radio waves, TV waves, and newspapers. Now there fewer than 10.
I’m completely new to this realm and have to be honest — I only know of The Young Turks in terms of major not-funded-by-a-conglomerate-outlets. (The founder, Cenk Uyger, received a triple standing ovation at Sister Giant.) If you’re like, OOH I KNOW SOME AMAZING ALTERNATE SOURCES OF NEWS, KRISTEN — message firstname.lastname@example.org and help me out.
Pick an artist — any artist — and buy their work directly from them right now.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they’ve enjoyed my work for months/years but have never purchased anything — but THANK YOU!!!!!!!!, they say — I could pay this month’s rent with those dividends. I am grateful for kind words, but they are absolutely useless currency for paying bills, buying food, and keeping coffee in my French press.
Pay your favorite people to keep going.
Further: if you are an artist and you don’t pay artists for their work, you’re unconsciously undermining your own. In a world where art is being driven toward free with a link of attribution for usage, all of our work descends to a far-from-sustainable-for-paying-the-bills place. Photographers, writers, poets, makers, illustrators, designers, tinkerers…pay for every piece of art you enjoy and/or use and your own work can only shine brighter.
Give money to those who inspire you.
When humans make work that inspires you and you pay them, they can keep making work that inspires you, and on and on the cycle goes. Donate to a nonprofit that’s kicking ass at the moment. Pick up a book that will change your life or reframe the way you do business (or both — Calling to the Deep!). Buy a full album from your nearest record store instead of a single from iTunes. Support projects via Patreon. Chip in to pay for intellectual food.
Elevate the voices of those thinkers, talents, speakers, writers, and artists you love.
Share your art purchases with a link and a hearty recommendation via any social media platform you choose.
Spreading the word about what you listen to, what you read, what keeps you sane, and what keeps you laughing is of vital importance. As the media comes under more and more fire — as these uncertain days get longer and darker and heavier — we will need to uplift one another with our words and our dollars more than ever.
Right now: put your money where your heart is. Pick five people who’ve inspired you and find a way to give them money.
If for some crazy reason they’re not taking money and have absolutely nothing for sale, e-mail them to ask to make a donation to charity in their name. (No seriously, do this right now.)
This week, I: bought a tote and pin from Emily McDowell, subscribed to James Victore’s Patreon, purchased 2 books — Men Explain Things to Me and Corruption in America, stopped by The High Point Cafe, which was donating 5% of its proceeds to the ACLU for the day, and went to see a movie at my local nonprofit movie house.
Those aren’t big giant dollar-sucking commitments. Those are everyday purchases totaling less than $60 that I spent to support makers and non-profits and people who make me laugh really hard.
I found that $60 for supporting the arts easily by popping into Sarah Von Bargen’s Put Your Money Where Your Happy Is course — which caused me to renegotiate billing on several fronts and save $650 per month on expenditures. YUP, that’s a $147 class that paid for itself four times over in the first month of use. Check it out here.
If I’m one of the people who have inspired you in some way, please pick up one of my books or come to the Brave workshop this September. I can’t keep making without your support — and you can’t keep making without the support of others.
We need one another.
These words are part of a longer That’s What She Said podcast, too! Listen in…