Where Do We Go From Here?
Thanks to you all, a few days ago, this Patreon surpassed $500/project. That is beyond anything I ever expected. I put the last two milestone goals up at least half as a joke: "Start an Integral Center? Circle Oprah? Yeah, like I'm ever going to get to that level! Heh heh.... ...what?" To commemorate this, I want to talk a little about what I DID expect when I began my journey into Authentic work...where I am now...and where I plan to go. Here's the yearly report! THE PAST Two and a half years ago, I helped to found the Houston Authentic community, and founded the Austin Love Juggernaut. I wanted to feel included in what my then-boyfriend was trying to create with Authentic work, and I wanted a group of friends who I could feel close with. I'd never even been exposed to meditation or personal growth work in any way, and I'd never heard of "Integral," "Circling," or "facilitation". A year and a half ago, I completed training in circling with the Integral Center. I saw the leaders of that organization and I dreamed of someday working for them - or, even more impossible, traveling to teach the kind of workshops they did. A year ago, I graduated from college. I struggled with the question of whether to get a job in a coffeeshop or bakery, to travel across Spain and Portugal, or to take the risk of creating a business in a field that (at that point) had literally never been financially sustainable, for anybody, in the long term. THE PRESENT A few days ago, Jordan Allen and I began final plans for our own top-dollar circling training, which will bring in the leaders who trained me to work beside me in training others. Next month, I travel to Florida to lead a Circling immersion, then to San Francisco to supervise a major course. This weekend, I will be leading a self-created facilitator training which has turned out more than 100 Authentic community leaders, created 7 new communities, and turned a profit every 2-3 months for the last year. The training will be assisted by a team of mentees who I am coaching to create their own Authentic initiatives. Last month, I earned enough - between leading courses and this Patreon - that for the first time in my life, I am entirely self-supportive. Taking a step back from the facts, here's the emotion. Guys, THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Honestly? This kind of thing is not supposed to happen. I feel disbelief, amazement, fear of letting y'all down, power and trust in my ability to create and lead, excitement about the future, and confusion about how to interact with my teachers as they become my peers. I feel proud of what I have created, and terror that I might miss something essential in all the chaos of communicating with hundreds of people on tens of different projects, each with their own business relationships and power dynamics. I also feel totally alive right now. I am in my element, creating and supporting others to create. What's next? THE FUTURE A few weeks ago, I began polling the community about getting our own Integral Center. Thanks to y'all, it looks like this is an absolutely viable possibility. I am going to change my Patreon commitment slightly (I realized that I can't both support assistants and lay aside half the Patreon funds per month for a center - oops!). So, I'm thinking of committing $500 a month from this money to subsidize the Center, which should be more than sufficient to get us on our feet, and also allow me to continue paying for people to help run that project. (I suppose another way of doing this could be to lay aside half the funds to pay for both the space and assistance in running it...do y'all have a preference for where your money should go in handling this?) So, there's one thing. A little dizzying. We are getting an Integral Center. Holy fuck. There's lots else. Here's the breakdown: COLLABORATIONS - I'm exploring collaborations with all the other circling orgs. Nothing certain as of yet, but I imagine it will all clarify in the next few months...I'm traveling a lot to spend time with all the different companies and waiting for the click with each that will point to where we should work together. - Four different people/groups out of Austin are working on potentially profitable projects, using Authentic Relating, for which we will be developing affiliate relationships. Several other projects are pending. - I plan to create some videos with Jason Digges, for promotional purposes and perhaps online course material - And, Jordan and I are developing an Integral Community Leadership platform in conjunction with the Integral Center. PROGRAMS - The Authentic Leadership and Facilitation Training, and the All-Texas Authentic Retreats, will continue running every few months. I plan to turn both of these over to other leaders when a team is ready (which has already happened for the Retreats, and will probably happen for the next ALFT) - I and Jordan will continue leading Circling immersions in Austin, Jacksonville, and elsewhere, together or seperately. We'll also continue running circling labs (now twice-weekly!) and 8-week serieses. (Series? Seriesum? Serii?) - The Integrative Circling Leadership Course (Austin circling training) will begin in June and run for 8 or 9 months subsequently, incorporating lead teachers from the Integral Center, Circling Europe, and the Circling Institute - The Mentat Academy (Authentic mentorship program - ok, yes, I change names on things a lot, but words define reality!) will begin formally next week, run for 3 months, and then I plan to run it again as a partially-online paid course available to anybody in the world. - I plan to work with at least one local school (Khabele-Strong Incubator) to offer a weekly Authentic Relating/Circling program for the kids THE AUTHENTIC REVOLUTION - The question of how to unify and spread the Authentic movement is always in the back of my mind. In the next year, I hope to have a hand in developing a system that helps existing communities to keep in touch with each other, access communal resources, draw on each other for support, and collaborate on creating initiatives together. First steps are creating a database of what communities exist and where they are (I started gathering information for that today), then finding a good platform to host resources and a communication forum, then plugging everyone in! (There's a lot more, of course - integrated social media? Affiliate program promotion? Skill specialization and cross-community hiring? But, I've learned to dream big, and then start small...or not at all :P) COMPANY STUFF - Re-launching ConnectionCorps! We've chosen a new name (after a HUGE amount of deliberation), and plan to re-launch in the next month with an edited website and other cool stuff. - Email campaign. This is small, but having some way for new people who sign up to our email list to get a series of updates on who we are and what we do. - Strengthening the leadership team. I want more clarity and support on what each of us do in the company, and more commitment to being part of it...or not. Possibly also changing the makeup of the core crew and re-negotiating our LLC. - Networking! It seems like there are a ton of opportunities for high-level collaboration out there. I plan to find somebody else than me to follow up on those connections. - Figuring out how to usefully work with an assistant AUSTIN COMMUNITY - I want the Austin community to be a testing ground for creating Integral systems, as it always has been for me. A community where ability is weighted highly, where commitment is rewarded, where growth is exponential, and where support is tangible - where every person is pushed to be their highest self, but has space to express that self fully. I don't really know what that looks like, but I think that my process of incremental evolution in response to tensions has worked better for us than having a "plan". Part of this may mean refining our sub-groups and systems, so that ability, commitment, and challenge are all seamlessly integrated (and subject to change!) BIG DREAMS - If I have my desires, by the end of the next year, I will have co-created a massive funnel for people to get involved in Authentic Relating...anybody, anytime, anywhere. There will be videos and articles where you can find out what AR is, an online community where you can play Games and Circle 24/7, links to communities in your area, challenges and courses for you to bring AR into your life at any level of commitment, courses to train you in starting Authentic community where it doesn't exist, business incubation for you to bring AR into your own projects or start projects around that, and suggestions for how to go deeper into personal work through circling. - Then, I will immerse myself in systems theory, and figure out how to make this worldwide community self-evolving. I want EVERYBODY to be expressing their unique gifts, fully, for the benefit of all of us. If you want to create a video on Authentic Relating for deaf people, you feel totally empowered to find a team, fundraise, create the video, and release it to everybody, just because you WANT to. If you want to lay on the couch and get circled every damn day, I want there to be a way for that to be your gift, fully expressed and accepted and in service of all. - Finally, once the infrastructure is in place, I want to figure out how we use this stuff to make the whole world a better place, and what that even looks like. Can we use Authentic Relating to save the environment? To decrease poverty? To stop war? Who do we need to access for that to happen, how do we get to them, what language do we speak to them, and how do we make a splash that changes the course of whole oceans, everywhere we go? I hope this isn't too much of a ramble. I wanted to write a post containing enough of a mind-reveal to somehow match the overwhelming support I have received from you all. Thank you, thank you all (especially Mateo - I don't even have words, man. Thank you). Love, Sara