I’ve been putting this off for months. But I simply don’t have the bandwidth and energy now to keep publishing the Great Lakes Den. Effective now, the Den will be on hiatus for at least two months.
I have burnt out on publishing and on my community activities. I actually hit burn out back in November. Participating in the LION Publishers annual conference did give me some energy to continue with publishing as did a burst of interest with our survey. The viewership for our livestreaming of this years IML also helped. But all of those were temporary boosts.
The Den has been publishing, except for a one year period after the last serious burn out, since 2002. For much of that time, finding content and information has been a full time job. A full time job even when I had a full time day job and when I was also a full time caregiver for my late husband. Since his passing, I’ve continued to do the community journalism at a time when I also needed to focus on figuring out my life again and grieving. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t do both.
We have gotten a burst of monetary support in the past few months. And while we haven’t been bringing in enough to pay for more writers, it has ensured that we do have a web host, social media management, and the ability to boost our posts on social media. That has been wonderful to get. But what we still need, and have always needed, are people willing to help actually run the Den.
The Den covers the bear, leather and fetish community in eight states. We’ve posted about big events like IML, Mr. Michigan Leather, and GLLA and also every munch and class we were able to find and get permission to share. And there are a LOT of groups and events in the Midwest. And since November, it’s been just two people doing it. Two people can not, no matter how hard they work and however much they travel, cover eight states. We’ve asked for help more than once. We have made it as easy as possible to submit stories and content. We even got offers of help. But the vast majority of people who have stepped up did one or two posts then stopped. We had 44 people offer to contribute. We reached out to all of them. We got responses back from two. And even those haven’t sent in anything in months despite active communities in their areas. I wind up spending as much time reminding people to help as I would getting the information myself. I can’t do that anymore.
The Den has been a labor of love for 16 years. I never expected to make a living of it or for it to even get to the level of Drummer. However, especially in the past year and a half, it has become a chore. I kept doing because it was the best way I knew I could serve the community. But I now dread going to events. I don’t have the bandwidth to put myself into social situations especially as the battles between those who want to move forward and those who want to take us back to an imagined past get more frequent and more intense. It’s not fun anymore. I can no longer spend the time, money and energy trying to cover news when even getting an email returned is a challenge.
If we’re sent articles and post through our submission page or at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will still publish them. But it will depend on the community doing it. The Den, like other community publications, needs the community to be involved and engaged. No amount of money will replace the engagement and actions of the community. We need you to send us announcements, articles and columns. We need you to comment on the posts and share the articles you read. You have to be involved. Otherwise, we’re just spinning our wheels. We can’t keep doing that forever.
The Den has gotten more submission this past month than we usually do. However, those five submissions are also more than we’ve gotten in a year. And it’s still way below what we need to be able to accurately reflect the activities of a large and vibrant community.
We’ve gone on hiatus before and we did come back. When we comeback depends on how much I can recharge and heal and on how much the community pushes for it. We will post articles we send and we’ll keep our calendar up. But I can’t chase down every event and story possibility anymore. When just finding out who won a contest can turn into a month of repeated follow up emails, it’s no longer worth the effort. Not when I’m at a point where just getting through a regular day can be a challenge and needing professional help to deal with depression and grief. I simply can’t.
So, if you want this, and other publications like it, to stay around, then it’s up to you, the community, to keep it. Not just with money, but also with your actions. That is the only way anything in our community will stay alive.