The Utne Award and the Future of Tikkun
Former managing editor Dave Belden, Associate Editor Peter Gabel, and I were honored to receive the Utne Independent Press Award won by Tikkun Wednesday night at a ceremony attended by staff from some of the most significant magazines in the United States (Managing Editor Alana Price was unable to attend but was with us in spirit). The awardees were selected from some 1,300 magazines reviewed.
Tikkun won in the category of Best Body/Spirit Coverage. The other nominees were: The Christian Century, Commonweal, Geez, Resurgence, Sojourners, Tricycle, and Yes!Magazine. In accepting the award, we want to acknowledge the excellence of the other nominee magazines as well!
The irony: we are unable to afford to print our Summer issue for lack of funds, or to remain in print. The only way we can continue is if you, and 400 other people like you, make a tax-deductible contribution of $1,000 each and commit to do so each of the coming years that you can afford to do so–or if many thousands of people send us donations that they can afford (what could you afford if you stretched beyond your comfort zone because you really wanted Tikkun to remain alive. And this is not meant to make you feel guilty–if you love Tikkun but have no possible way to send us any support, I can fully understand and you don’t need to send me a note explaining–that’s the situation of many if not most of our readers, which is why we are in such trouble, so don’t blame yourself and I won’t blame you either, though I do blame the politicians of both parties who have failed to take seriously the expanding circles of poverty that effect everyone else also except for the super rich). But if you can help, with anything, you can donate at www.tikkun.org/nextgen/donate or you can send a check to Tikkun at 2342 Shattuck Ave, #1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704. Even though this is a huge stretch for you, I hope you’ll consider doing this!!! I love the feel of holding the magazine in my hand, and so do many, many other readers–but no money, no print.
The good news: we have launched our Tikkun magazine on-line at www.tikkun.org. Subscribers and members of the Network of Spiritual Progressives will get access to a special section of the website that will carry the kinds of articles for which we earned the Independent Press Award. Others will be able to read the first few paragraphs of those articles (in the section of the Tikkun website called “Current Print Issue”) and then asked to subscribe if they wish to read the rest of the article. On the other hand, the other features on the website are free to everyone. They include a rotating set of special features, top articles by some of the most interesting thinkers and writers, plus a section I’m in charge of which includes editorials by me and others whom I’ve selected to give special attention, a section on spiritual writing, a section of articles from the Web that we’ve selected as the most important to read (not necessarily articles we agree with, but perspectives that you won’t get in the mainstream media), and then our blog Tikkun Daily (which you can receive for free if you sign up for it at www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/join-tikkun-daily/ and which includes provocative comments from our bloggers plus an amazingly beautiful art gallery and other features). So how can we afford to keep all this going? Well, that’s an issue too. You see, on the one hand the blog gives us access to many young people who like to read things on line. But most of them are used to getting their content free. So unless all of our current readers and members of the Network of Spiritual Progressives decide to keep up your subscriptions and/or membership in the Network of Spiritual Progressives, we won’t be able to keep staff to keep the online magazine at www.tikkun.org.
How serious is this? Well, we can’t publish the June issue (though it will be available at www.tikkun.org for subscribers and members in the “Current Print Issue” section of the website). And I had to lay off half of our 5 person staff, so now we are down to 2.5 full time people. The first person I laid off was myself! So now I’m working as editor, but with zero pay! I really couldn’t lay off someone else without taking the first blow myself! And then I had to lay off co-managing editor Dave Belden and chief operating officer Pete Catrell. And our assistant operations manager Natalie is now working only half time (so please forgive if we are a little late in acknowledging contributions or returning phone calls), We still have some wonderful (unpaid) interns and we still have some wonderful unpaid volunteers who come into the office several days a week or who volunteer their services from their homes (and yes, we could use some more), So yes, this is serious. Imagine this — if we go out of business entirely, what a victory that would be for the Right, for the most reactionary voices in the fundamentalist world, for the “You’re an anti-Semite if you criticize Israel” world, the cheerleaders for AIPAC and Netanyahu, the people who attack progressives in the Methodists/Presbyterians /United Church of Christ / Unitarian Universalist Association / Catholic/Baptist / Lutheran/Quaker / Reform Jewish / Conservative / Jewish / Reconstructionist / Jewish Renewal / Sufi / Bahai / Sikh / Muslim / Hindu / Buddhist worlds, and for all those whose fear leads them to hate or ridicule our voice of hope.
A further irony: there are hundreds of thousands of people who love Tikkun, read it online for free, or read it on the newsstands and bookstores for free, or whose lives have been enriched by reading Tikkun articles that have been reprinted elsewhere–but who don’t subscribe even though they benefit from knowing that there is this voice in the world. Unfortunately, we don’t have their email addresses or any way to contact them–so the only way we can stay alive is to turn to YOU!!! It’s not fair, but that’s what is. Similarly, people say to us, “this can’t be happening–there must be some wealthy individual or foundation that would support Tikkun!” Well, maybe, but we don’t know that person or we don’t have an “in” to that foundation. If you do, help us by approaching them directly yourself on our behalf!!! Don’t send us their name–you do the outreach please at least to the point where somebody says they are interested in learning more about us, then we’ll take over!
So please don’t let this happen. Even if you can’t donate at the level needed to sustain the print version, you might be able to donate less and sustain the online version. If you can, please do so now! At www.tikkun.org/nextgen/donate or by sending a check to Tikkun, 2342 Shattuck Ave, #1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704.
Warm regards and blessings,
P.S. I had a wonderful exchange with the Dalai Lama at the City of Newark’s Peace Education Summit this past weekend. Congratulations to Robert Thurman, the Buddhism scholar and chair of the dept of religion at Columbia, and to Tibet House, which organized this event at which several thousand people attended. There was considerable excitement among attendees about our Global Marshall Plan www.spiritualprogressives.org/GMP and our Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment (ESRA) www.spiritualprogressives.org/ESRA. The more people who hear about these campaigns, the more excitement gets generated! Not surprisingly, many of the attendees loved our video about why we need to reclaim our democracy from the corporations and the super rich (if you haven’t watched this ten minute video, do yourself a favor and do so now: www.tikkun.org/ESRAvideo). But as one expert fundraiser reminded me, “if you criticize the corporations and the rich, don’t be surprised if they don’t donate to you.” He was right, and that’s why we need your help so badly.