People are reasonably confused about the I Am UU project, what our goals are, why we do what we do, and how we get it done. We hope this page offers some answers, and we recommend looking at the pages under the “Who We Are” tab above for more information. The project is something that hasn’t ever existed before in Unitarian Universalism, as far as we can tell. We wanted to help people better understand the project which, hopefully, will lead to more interaction, a feeling of community, and to eventually making the project more professional and sustainable.
The I Am UU project is a grassroots effort to make it easier to understand and share liberal religion and Unitarian Universalism specifically. We are not sponsored, supported, or edited by the UUA or any member congregation. What we do is common in Protestant traditions in the south, where we are based; people create materials to help share the ideas of a faith and make them available to individuals and congregations. Our goal is to create informative and inspirational content that explains Unitarian Universalism either in simple terms or in small pieces that are easy to understand. We then make those images, blog posts, and (in the future) videos freely available for sharing with your friends. This way, they are invited to learn about liberal religion in a way that isn’t aggressive or taxing, maybe even just a little at a time over several months, which may lead some of them to look deeper for themselves.
Currently, almost all of the work that goes into the project, from web design to writing, graphic design and social media moderation, is done by me. I recruit people to help edit the really big projects, or to offer up a blog post now and then, but this is my personal ministry, and I am ultimately responsible for everything that gets published on any of the I Am UU channels. It has grown into a responsibility that I take very seriously, as we now reach tens of thousands of people a week, many of whom are hearing about Unitarian Universalism for the first time.
In fact, last year we had over 26 thousand page views on our website and the number of people interacting with our Facebook page often rivaled the official UUA page. Our posts were shared thousands of times by individual UUs and by congregations, and we know for a fact that those shares introduced at least a dozen people to Unitarian Universalism for the first time.
All of this is built on an important premise:
I give away all of this work freely.
Whether it is writing a blog post about Universalism or Social Justice or creating a graphic about the roots of liberal religion, or just curating inspirational quotes in a “wayside pulpit” fashion, it is important that it all be accessible to UUs, congregations, and those who are looking for a spiritual community. It needs to be accessible, both in terms of how it is presented and how it is distributed, or it cannot have the desired effect. I want it to be shared, seen, and considered as widely as possible, and that is what happened last year.
Obviously, a lot of that is largely thanks to you all. You who share our posts, like our pictures, and leave us comments, whether they are complimentary or constructive in nature. This project has become what it is today because of the people who have helped me learn what is and is not effective and what I can do well that no one else is providing to UUs. It matters because you all make sure the posts are seen and talked about.
The project has grown so much, and with it the expectations and the requirements. Looking back on some of the first images created for the Facebook page, I cringe. I was just trying things out, and I had no idea what I was doing. I learned to do better, but in the process, everything takes more time and energy. That’s what the project calls for, and what I have to do to feel worthy of the reach and impact that I now have. It takes more time, and it deserves better equipment and software than I can afford at the moment.
This is where I ask you all to help shape the future of the project in a new way. A year ago, I launched a campaign through the website Patreon. Patreon is a crowd-funding service that supports artists and creators in making things to be shared with the world. Intended for people who make things like web comics and YouTube videos, ongoing projects that are meant to be freely accessible, it seemed like a good fit for a project to create and give away liberal religious ministry. At the bottom of the page is a short video that helps to explain their model.
(Special mention of two things not mentioned in the video: Our campaign is based on a monthly model rather than per-work pledges, and we have a list of commitments to our community for reaching certain funding goals.)
I want to be able to give my best to the I Am UU project. I want to grow, as it has grown, so that I can continue to live up to the commitment that I have taken on to provide you all with tools to explain Unitarian Universalism and to promote our Principles and values in the world. I hope to improve my ability to create interesting and engaging content, and maybe to bring in more fresh voices for the blog and new multimedia projects. I want to be able to attend train sessions and workshops and to be able to share more and better information with you all. Right now, though, I need to be able to pay my bills, and that is conflicting with the rest of these goals. Right now, I need to know if you value the I Am UU project, and if you are willing to help me live up to those commitments by continuing to support my work.
What I am asking is for you all to leave more comments or write me with your feelings about the project and what you think works well. I want you all to keep sharing and reading posts. I want you all to think about what the value of the I Am UU project is to you and to your congregation if they share our posts. Then, I need you to consider pledging a couple of dollars a month to make sure that this project can remain my focus and my ministry to the world. Just a couple of dollars a month from as few as 25% of our Facebook community would allow me to treat this as a full-time job with money left over for operating expenses, new software, better stock images and fonts, and the ability to launch even more types of outreach.
I love doing it, and I believe it matters. I need to know if you believe that, too.
Here is the video description of Patreon: