October 26th is the last day of our Membership Drive. We need 391 more recurring donors to be financially sustainable. Don’t put it off any longer – support the independent, local media you trust!
by Marcus Harrison Green
Back then the question used to always seem so frivolous.
“Why do we fall down?”
No, the answer didn’t lie in coordination, carelessness, or remedial physics.
It’s what my grandmother Hilliard asked me every single time life met my maximal effort with minimal success, those times it looted my all and left nothing.
That question met my every heartache; my every gut contorting, esteem killing moment where my dreams laid demolished.
“Why do we fall down?”
I would only grudgingly answer her. I was ashamed that I had failed; ashamed to admit defeat. I wanted to stew in a private hell about it, trying to fix whatever I had broken along ambition’s road. I had taken every single thing on myself because I couldn’t trust anyone to do what I thought needed doing. As much as I deplore the myth of the rugged individual, achieving everything with his own effort, I was as much a follower of that gospel as anyone.
She’s been gone from this world now for more than 3 years. But her voice came back to me this week during the Emerald’s fund drive.
From our generous volunteers, to our contributing board, to our miniscule staff, we’ve done our best working around the clock to get as many recurring donors as possible. However, that effort hasn’t yielded the 500 people we need for the Emerald to become what it can be.
I know the twilight of October may be the worst time to ask for money. It seems every single organization worthy of your hard-earned dollars is making their pitch for them right now. Compile that with every local political candidate asking you to dig that much deeper in your bank account to contribute to their run and I can’t blame anyone for tapping out and fastening a Granit lock to your wallet.
On top of all that, this city continues to grow more expensive with rent, transportation, food, and even a menial social life taking a bigger slice out of every paycheck. “Just getting by” is a growing occupation for too many in our city.
So I can’t ask you for something you can’t do. But I can ask you for something you can do, and only you know the difference.
And make no mistake, it’s not easy to ask for assistance in continuing our dream here at the Emerald. But it’s been comforting to realize that asking comes not from a place of fear, but a belief in this part of town that’s bred me, where I received my first kiss, and to which I owe my life and sense of purpose.
Over the course of three years, I’ve given my personal savings, worked multiple part time jobs early on to make payroll, and had little time for relationships outside of work – all in service to prioritizing this publication.
Throughout all this, it’s this community that’s been the bedrock of the South Seattle Emerald. It’s this community that continues to be our salvation.
It was this community who, when my family lost our house last year, made sure my family was housed.
It was this community who, when my loved ones were murdered, made sure to spread the story of their lives.
It was this community who, every time we’ve fallen down as a publication, has picked us back up.
Over the course of three months I’ve turned down lucrative editor and writing positions with national and regional publications, capitalizing on the limited notoriety I’ve amassed. My decision was not made out of foolishness but out of love for this community and for this publication; a publication from which I only just now started collecting a stipend of $500 a month.
The decision to trade in the American Dream, so I can tell America’s story – South Seattle’s story – was easy enough. I lived that dream during my time in the finance industry with its trinkets, material comforts, and ornamental wealth.
It wasn’t until founding the Emerald, until uncovering the richness of the stories that go untold, the people who go unheard, and the lives that go unseen, that I began to live.
As we stand now, I can’t promise you’ll always agree with every opinion or viewpoint we publish. The Emerald houses a range of socialist, anarchist, capitalist, communitarians, libertarians…there’s as much diversity of thought in South Seattle as diversity of people.
I can’t promise we will ever be first to a story. We have a staff of two, though we’re desperately hoping to add another soon.
I can’t promise you we’ll always be on the cusp of what’s popular or entertaining, as we’d rather be firmly rooted in what’s important and can make a difference.
I can’t promise you we won’t make a mistake. Like most media enterprises, we’re grossly overworked and underpaid. We’ll never be perfect, but we’ll absolutely do our best to remedy our wrongs.
I can, however, promise you we’ll tell stories not just about this community but from it, never speaking for those in power but to them.
I can promise you we’ll dare to put those in power eye-level with those they oppress. We’ll place society’s privileged toe-to-toe with its forgotten; the conventional thinkers with the cultural prophets.
I swear to you, with every atom in me, we’ll do all we can to shine a light where there is none in this city.
Will we succeed? I have no idea. But I do know if we choose not to try, not to dare, our success rate will fall to zero.
We’ve existed for the past three years with the preposterous generosity of an ED who worked mainly for free, contributors willing to take a deep discount, and volunteers who put as much time into the Emerald as they would a full-time gig.
My grandmother’s lesson is an old one, but newly learned. We collapse in life so often because we forget life’s greatest battles can’t be fought alone.
We need you to fight with us. We need you to do what you can.
We can only stand on our own for so long.
Marcus Harrison Green, is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of the South Seattle Emerald. He writes a regular column on South Seattle personalities, social movements, juvenile justice and American society. He is a former scholar-in-residence at Town Hall Seattle, a past Reporting Fellow with YES! Magazine, and a recipient of Crosscut’s Courage Award for Culture. He currently resides in the Rainier Beach neighborhood and can be followed on Twitter@mhgreen3000