Where Is Campfire at now?

Keeping and nurturing self-love for our visions

The Campfire story is very relevant to what I have been talking about in the previous blog (here, I have edited a single blog down to two separately). 

I have felt a strong sense of personal calling for the last decade or more towards a combination of building an independent social network online and in parallel putting on events (part from the lockdown months). This calling presented itself out of a vision for possibilities that my previous project The Big Chill opened up, described by some as ‘a glimpse into a utopian world’. How people acted towards each other was revelatory, like they’d been offered a long weekend get-out from what some described to me as their commercial, often humdrum, consumerist, advertising, media-led, living-for-the weekend merry go round and plonked into a totally different environment, in rural idyll for sure, but also one where people behaved differently to others. There was awareness rather than blindness / fear, there was openness, there was a sense that the world could different and much better. The fact that we know of at least 40 marriages that came out of Big Chill connections (we also had a thriving social network engagement) still makes my spine tingle. Changing lives (for the better) is a powerful incentive towards enable people to meet in a sacred space.

Against that backdrop, I felt very inspired to build on that sense of community, but to bring a sense of purpose centre stage which to me ten years ago, seemed more resonant now as many people started to look beyond hedonism into something a little deeper. This first required a leap of faith for me as it was a major commitment of my time and limited financial resources - and then great fortitude and resilience as and when I encountered obstacles. Building the architecture to underpin a social network isn’t easy and despite attempts to find funding in the early stages, it didn’t happen so, having already embarked on a commitment in my own heart, I resolved to put in my limited life savings, amounting to many thousands of pounds. 

So has it been worth it? Time will tell, but I have no doubt that without taking the sort of leap of faith Paula Moss talks about (above), I’d probably be doing something much more unsatisfying and I would feel unfulfilled. Just seeing the way people respond and bonded at our most recent events has given me inspiration way beyond any financial considerations. That investment has paid back in dividends in terms of human emotion and human connection.

That’s not to say that we don’t need a funding solution immediately. Campfire is still a tiny business as it has virtually no income. Nearly everyone on our new Mighty Network site has opted for free membership and only yesterday, as I was giving a new member a private Zoom walk-through I heard those words again “I will not pay for social media”. I could get into a long rant about this and have done in the past. It’s all part of changing the ‘what’s in it for me?’ mindset to ‘Imagine what we might build together that’s fantastic”.  

To make that leap people just need to realise this isn’t about the old model of profit and exploitation. I have never taken a penny out of Campfire personally (and I know i’m lucky and privileged to have what is left of the savings I acquired when I had to exit The Big Chill). I know how many thousands I have put in, and I also know that I’ve learned a lot - and furthered my understanding of the vital importance of community and the role it plays at the central hub of this life. 

The idea mooted by many is to return to the micro payments of our Mk1 site. We didn’t have many thousands joining but there was a steady flow at £1.66 a month (£20 a year). Those who had chosen to join felt more commitment as it was more than another free service. I had a strong feeling now that if those who had joined Campfire in the first six months of our Mighty Network era had put in a couple of pounds a month, they’d have been much more inclined to be active and to be part of building community discussions and interaction. 

Where is Campfire now? 

In the interests of transparency, I am happy to share Campfire’s latest accounts for 2021, a year in which we were building and trialing our own site (pre Mighty Networks) so had little revenue from either membership gifts or events (Covid meant cancellations of all events the previous year too).  In short, our turnover was £3,317, costs came in at £12, 067, showing a loss of £8, 873, which was underwritten by myself. Total assets less current liabilities (my directors loan) comes in at a negative figure of £79, 736. 

If anyone reading this feels moved towards donating via our ’Support Us’ red button on the Campfire site or this Donorbox link,  (Mighty Networks make it mighty difficult to transfer a membership from ‘free’ to ‘paid’) we’d love to hear from you. 

Since our launch earlier this year, our appeals have led to five people contributing £275 so far. If we could get just 100 people donating £50 a year, we’d get pretty close to covering our server, network and radio expenses. Events are something totally separate. This year’s Campout made a small surplus, FYI (not quite as much as the first step donation target would make. 

Let’s see what we can build together. If anyone would like to volunteer, please get in touch. We need an accountant, an events manager and at least a couple of people to help as ‘guiding lights’ would be wonderful, so decisions can be made by finding consensus in a small group. And, without putting too fine a point pin it, we need around 1000 people either taking a paid membership level or donating. 

At the moment there is strong sense of reckoning. Something is building and many can feel it. Campfire feels like it needs to be part of this shift as a community. It’s partly awakening, born of more self development, meditation, partly a visceral reaction to the way we’ve been ‘governed’ in the last few years, though the seeds were sown long ago. Initiatives such as Julene Siddique’s ’Systemic Social Change’ (due to launch Campfire’s Courses & Learning early next year) are vital to this as her diligence and guidance is offering a platform for us to all come together not only to recognise and call out the ‘pressure points’ in the existing systems, but to work together to find hands-on practical solutions, new ways, new frameworks, entities and language that we use as markers as we start to work towards a new system of distributed leadership. 

This post was taken from the middle section of a blog post I originally made on Campfire Network 06.10.22  https://campfireconvention.network/posts/how-can-we-be-the-change-we-wish-to-see