April 28, 2013

Should elephant continue?

Should elephant continue?

elephant is not a business, after all. We’re a way of life. And if there’s no greed, there’s no need.

elephant is nearly 11 years old. Last year, Congressman Polis, the Oscar-winning Cove producers, famous yoga teachers & media peers celebrated our survival, and thrival.

Are we doing any good? What’s the point? Do we have potential? Should elephant continue?

We’re making good money. We’re at 1.4 million readers a month. We’re arguably the biggest daily, weekly, monthly source for yoga in the world. And we’re about more than yoga: we’re about a way of life: eco-responsibility, mindfulness in every action, social good, humor, meditation, cycling, conscious consumerism, family, adventure, the arts, real food and, most of all, living life fully in this, the present moment.

We want our readership to grow, so that we can better reach beyond the choir—beyond those who already agree with us. That sounds nice, but it’s tiring. A gay friend of mine (who I look up to, generally) took exception to my angle on this. I explained I wasn’t writing it for me, or him, or anyone liberal, Buddhist, living in Boulder, who already saw that sexuality and equality made for a beautiful duo.

And that sort of trouble-making is at the heart of everything we do: we’re not here to get you to agree with us. We’re here to welcome views we disagree with, and create dialogue, respectful disagreement. We’re not here to form a cozy, self-congratulatory club, or to capture a demographic. We’re indie, mission-driven media for all. How many other publications can say that?

And yet I see Patagonia, Prana, Be Present, countless others put their advertising dollars elsewhere. That’s sad. We want to work (and play) with sponsors and partners who are mission-driven, and want the daily and weekly, not just monthly or quarterly interaction, not just attention of our readership. More importantly, we want to make money so that we can grow, and actually help the world, and ourselves along the way.

All this is to say that elephant is not a business, first. And that’s why we have the readership loyalty and support that we do. We want to succeed—not so that I can buy a second home or sell out to The Man—money is nice but, once we’ve got our needs attended to, it doesn’t further our happiness. Money, reinvested in elephant, will help us redesign, pay our writers to do quality journalism, and inspire other businesses to see that success and ethics are two sides of one coin.

We have a staff of six, now. In the past, we’ve been less of a staff and more of a team, even a family. But lately we seem to be uninspired, spoiled, defensive, looking elsewhere. Our site needs a redesign, badly. We have our problems, and the day to day can wear me down.

But our advertising, subscriptions and editorial remain strong. Personally, my desire to be of benefit remains unquenched. My appreciation for this life (and my hometown and community) grows with every day and season and year.

And so it is that we’ll press on: not because we’re a business concerned with our bottomline, but because we’re a mission, and our duty is yet unfulfilled, our path not yet finished.

So, if you’d like to support, there’s three (free) ways to do so: subscribe to our “Daily Wake Up Call” newsletter featuring an inspiring quote or photo. Subscribe to our youtube channel, where we’re talking (and laughing with) the best and the brightest about those issues that matter most. And write: don’t just read, interact. Be an active part of this sacred community. Finally, email us (with “apprentice” in the subject bar) about applying to join “elephant university”—where we train the next generation of social media and new journalism ethics-savvy writers, for free (after deposit is refunded).

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