Oh, it’s been a while since we had a chat, hasn’t it?
It’s not that I don’t love you, oh my gosh I do. It’s that, you know, life has gotten hectic.
We did that Indiegogo campaign, do you remember that? It was back when Hevria was this new and shiny thing. And you guys freaking went for it and supported us even though there wasn’t any proof any more would happen. You just trusted us, you crazy bastards.
And so since then, we’ve been working on trying to figure it all out, what we do with that money, how we create beautiful things, how we fulfill our promises to you.
I’d like to give you a status report, if you will. State of the Blog, as it were. Is that okay? If it’s not, feel free to stop reading here. I won’t be upset, people do it all the time with blog posts, didn’t you know?
Let’s start from the top.
What Went Right
Hevria started as a few of us writers. It grew to become a lot of writers and an audience that was bigger than anything we’d hoped it could be. Readers, but also writers. Writers, but also community.
We wanted to introduce new voices, and bring in guest posters, but editing our regular site was getting way too big. You see, me and Matthue run things for nothing, alongside our day jobs. So we hired our super-awesome guest editor, Tzvi Kilov, to manage submissions, guests, and new writers.
We’ve started production on a bunch of videos. When we filmed the first round of Hevria Sessions, we didn’t realize how many people were going to love original films of great artists like Levi Robin and Bulletproof Stockings. We also didn’t realize how much it was going to cost. We’re working on expanding that– both more Hevria Sessions, and more original content. More on that later. First, let’s talk about…
What Blew Up in Our Faces
The launch of Indiegogo was meant to be the beginning of what I considered to be the “Hevria business.”
See, I come from the startup world, and from the world of turning every idea into a money maker. And there’s actually a certain amount of idealism there.
The concept inherent in business (hopefully) is that, if you make something valuable, then people will buy it. So, reversing that, people buying what you sell is proof that you are providing them with value.
I thought: “Okay! So we’ll start making bigger, better things. We’ll sell them! Life will be peachy! And we will be the first self-sustaining online publication ever ever ever.”
I was afraid, you see, of being a nonprofit. I had seen, worked with/for, and experienced too many Jewish nonprofits, and they scared me. I was convinced that going the nonprofit route would kill us: we’d become stale, and we wouldn’t challenge ourselves, and we wouldn’t be “valuable.”
Thus began Hevria.Market and Hevria.Academy. Our attempts at bringing value to you dudes. At creating something new and fresh within the Jewish world that aligned with our mission (ugh, am I sounding all business-y? Forgive me).
They actually went well, in their way, especially Hevria.Academy. Eli Fink rocked his class in particular. It was clear that, if we kept working at it, it would succeed.
But something happened along the way to making that happen. I noticed something I didn’t see coming when this all started.
We’re still, at the end of the day, a site that subsists on very little. And so focus is key. Everything we do, every bit of time we spend, has to be going towards something important.
What Hit Me in the Face Without Me Noticing
And so…the more I focused Hevria.Market and Hevria.Academy, the more I realized: OMG, what about the blog? What about encouraging, pushing the writers? What about recruiting new ones?
It was all starting to happen at a slow, uninspired pace, so different from when we started.
What happened to Hevria Sessions? We hadn’t scheduled new shoots yet. What about the documentary ideas we had? We still hadn’t been able to recruit the right filmmakers. What about events? We’d already thrown one or two events, but not enough, nnot enough for what we wanted.
Those things are who we are. We are a movement.
Let me say that again: Hevria is a movement. Not a business or a nonprofit or whatever you think of when you think of organizations. We’re a movement, and nothing more. The structure is inconsequential to that reality.
And the videos, the adding writers, the events, the Sessions, those are us. They are the movement. Because it is within them that we empower others to be creative, to embrace their spirituality in ways no one else lets them. And most of all, it’s where our true community is borne.
It became pretty clear pretty fast that H.Market and H.Academy were great, but they weren’t us. They weren’t the movement. They didn’t change the part of the world we wanted to change, they didn’t empower in the same way as our site’s content, its video and music, its community building.
And I think the hardest part for me was that I was paying everyone except the writers who built this very site. It simply stopped making sense to me at that point.
To put it simply: a business thrives if it creates value because what it creates is its value. Our value is our writers and our creators, and most of all, you. Giving space for people to be totally, utterly, themselves. Encouraging you to be even more you. Getting you to encourage others.
And so… it became clear: we need to be a nonprofit.
And I couldn’t be more excited.
From Here to the Moon
My goal now is to completely and passionately give myself and others over to this mission, to this movement.
That means that I no longer am concerned with whether we’re making money this second. I do think we’ll be able to one day, but I’m not going to worry about that yet What I’m concerned about is making as many of the stuff that is true to that mission as possible. So this isn’t so much about making new things as much as refocusing back on what makes us great.
That means a few things:
We’re dropping Hevria.Market and Hevria.Academy for now (in case that wasn’t obvious). Focus is key here, and these projects are complete jobs in and of themselves. We may return to them when we have the foundation and manpower to build and focus on them properly.
We’re coming out with a new season of Hevria Sessions! Get ready for Noah Lubin, ePRHYME, Rachel Kann, and Stereo Sinai to hit your eye drums. Thank you, as always, to Saul for putting so much of his heart into this project.
We’re working on video, and looking to find more. I’m afraid to discuss what they are, because I’ve discovered that these projects can fall apart really quickly, or take much longer than expected. But we’re really excited about this, and truly believe it is the future of the site. If you’re a filmmaker and are interested in talking about our projects more, please email me.
In March, I will be going with a filmmaker friend of mine to shoot a documentary about Bat Ayin. It’s going to be awesome, I think. Also, we’ll hopefully be traveling to places like Jerusalem and other areas to bring you extra-super awesomeness. Stay tuned!
Guest posts will be continue to be pushed and expanded, and new writers will be added to the roster. These sorts of things take longer than we expected, which is an extra reason we need extra focus on the blog. If you’ve followed us closely, I’m sure you’ve seen how incredibly valuable new voices are to this site. We’re committed to continuing on that journey.
Community, community, community. That’s what Hevria is all about at the end of the day. We want deeply to turn this into a bunch of writers talking to themselves into a true, living, breathing, community. One where Jews who have felt out of the mainstream can come, congregate, create, and realize they are not alone. To that end, we’ll be doing more and more events like Hevria Live.
And, hooray hooray, we just launched our Facebook GROUP, Hevriabook. It’s a place for us to share our ideas, our thoughts, our creativity. Please join if you want to take our relationship to the next level. We understand if our relationship status is “complicated” at the moment for you. But we’ll be around 🙂
By partnering with the great Shul on the Internet, run by Eli Fink, we are able to finally launch a weekly newsletter! It should be getting launched super soon, so stay tuned for an email if you are on our regular subscription list, or if you care to ever look at our sidebar.
You. You. You. Be in touch, please. Please. Tell us what you want more of. Tell us what you want less of. Speak up. This is your space.
Oh yeah, and we’ll probably try and figure out how to make money at some point. Whatever.
Your eternal friend, your devoted servant, your secret lover,