Sharing the responsibility for our culture

picture of audience with hands in the air
Cheering isn’t the only way to support your culture

I’m a huge believer that folks in “communities of shared experiences” — where you find build and build connections with others who share your same life conditions, personality traits, etc — need to support one anothers’ work.

I’ve been involved in alternative community building for, oh, let’s say 25+ years, and one thing I see over and over is that communities which don’t support themselves from within really struggle to get good footing, and have a hard time thriving.

For example, certain communities (which I won’t name, because I don’t want to call them out in front of people who don’t understand the dynamics) have events where people either don’t pay their fair share, or they expect to get in for free. There are concerts, circles, gatherings, social events, etc., which have a participation fee of anywhere from $10 for an evening to $350+ for a full weekend. And a whole lot of people in the community expect to be allowed in either for a reduced price, for free, or in exchange for some bartered good or service.

I do understand that a lot of people struggle to make ends meet — especially with the communities I’m thinking of. Just paying for gas to make it to the event can be a huge deal for some folks. But this mindset — I’m a disadvantaged member of a marginalized community and I should be taken care of by others who have been lucky enough to get a break from life — really hurts the group as a whole. It expects a few to support the many, and it seems to treat community leaders (who may have limited resources and are really struggling themselves) like the benefactors of the larger group, who — like parents of helpless children — are expected to take on all the responsibility for making these events happen. Especially the financial responsibility.

I’ve seen it so many times, and I’ve been on the receiving end of that form of “deprived entitlement” a number of times. And it really, really worries me.

Because it really undermines the larger community and the community leaders in logistical ways. And it serves to prevent more good things from happening.

If we want to create a completely new culture, we need to all do our part, take responsibility, pitch in, and help make it happen. No matter how small the support may be, people who are on the receiving end of cultural goodness need to appropriately contribute to the folks creating that goodness — so the cycle continues, and it doesn’t collapse from the inside.

This goes for art, music, theater, writing, social events, all the elements of culture that we as humans create to make the world a more humane place.

Artists, musicians, writers, event producers, performers, inventors, and more… all need support from the people who benefit from their work.

Or we’ll all just keep on getting the same tired old mass-produced, mass-marketed pop culture we gather in groups to complain about.

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