CROWDSOURCING SUSTAINABILITY

CS is Ending. It’s been a good run.

by | August 3, 2023

Over the last 5 years, Crowdsourcing Sustainability has educated, inspired, and empowered tens of thousands of people to see the world differently and take meaningful climate action.

Together, we have made a remarkable impact since 2018. And I’ve loved being on this journey with you.

But, after a lot of reflection, I recently made the hard decision to close down our nonprofit in September.

There are multiple reasons for this but the main one is simple: I’m following my heart.

And my heart is telling me it’s time for this chapter to come to an end.

I know it’s time to let go and that I need a long break to rest, reset, get back to a higher volume of learning, and figure out what the next right step is for me in the climate movement.

There are of course interconnected and supporting reasons for this.
Here are a few of the main ones:

Financial struggles

We have hundreds of amazing individuals whose support helped make this work possible. As well as our wonderful and generous partners at the Woka Foundation and Forest Foundation.

But Crowdsourcing Sustainability never achieved financial sustainability.

You may remember newsletters in the last 8 months or so saying we were on track to run out of money by ___ date. Well, we have effectively run out of money.

I didn’t pay myself from January to mid-June in an effort to buy us more time for a grant to come in from a new partner, but it didn’t materialize. If I paid myself back fully for that time, we’d have run out of money a few weeks ago.

I do think we would have gotten a grant in early 2024. We were doing all the right things. In retrospect, I should have brought on our teammate to help with fundraising a little earlier than I did. I also could have tried new revenue models to increase our financial sustainability. Perhaps I was a bit too ideological in keeping the newsletter, podcast, and community free for everyone (and free of ads).

But in my mind providing all of that value for free was part of the ethos of what I wanted to build, in part to help empower as many people as possible to act on climate.


My time and energy have been increasingly invested in things I don’t want to do

As our nonprofit has grown, I’ve had to spend more and more of my time on things I don’t want to do (fundraising, admin, compliance, reporting, building a board of directors, etc).

And less and less time on the things I love doing and am best at (learning, writing, and connecting with people in the community).

I realized I don’t really want to be an Executive Director.


My health and well-being

To be honest, I’m burnt out in a way I’ve never been before.

I put my heart and soul into this for 5.5 years and it’s still not quite working in certain ways. It’s demanding more of me than I can continue to put into it. I work too much and stress about the organization’s financial situation too much.

Perhaps most importantly, the last 1.5 years have been the worst health-wise for me by far. I’ve been very sick several times, had 2 minor surgeries (I’m totally fine), and more.

So a big part of this decision is about re-prioritizing my well-being.

Like I said, I’m ultimately following my heart on this.

What’s next?

Personally, I’m going to take a much-needed break. I haven’t had more than a few days of vacation where I truly unplugged in over five years. And I need some time to rest, reflect, reset, and figure out what is next for me in the climate movement that balances my well-being and utilizes my unique skills, experiences, and connections to make a big impact.

I don’t know what I’ll end up doing, but I promise to let you know. And there’s a decent chance you get a random newsletter from me between now and then…I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist!

Regarding what happens between now and mid-September when our nonprofit stops operating, you can pretty much expect what you’re used to. There will be a handful more newsletters, events, a panel, and maybe a podcast on topics like ecopsychology, community climate action, climate jobs, and more.

Rachel and I are also going to put together some useful resources for you that will help you continue on your climate journey. And, in a similar vein, our teammate Roberta Bosu will create visual content on our Instagram and LinkedIn to re-share the key takeaways from our most important newsletters and podcasts out of the 200+ we’ve made.

Finally, I’m putting some money aside to keep the website and podcast running for at least a few more years so all the CS resources continue to be available.

Thank you again

It’s impossible for me to articulate how grateful I am for everyone’s support of Crowdsourcing Sustainability. And for everyone who has been brave and open enough to change in the last five years – to think, speak, and act differently to help stop global heating and start building a safe, healthy, and just world.

Everything you do makes a difference. Even if you never know the ripple effects of it all.

This isn’t goodbye now. Nor will it be in September. (I will stay in touch!)

It is the end of something good. But it will also create space for some new and improved beginnings.

I’ve learned a lot over the last 5+ years and would do all sorts of things differently and better knowing what I know now.

But I don’t have any regrets. And I wish the same for you on your climate journey.

Much love to you all and thank you again for everything,

Ryan

This post originally featured in the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter below!

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