Contributions and Support - Philosophy

The Philosophy Behind All This

I've been seeing lots of websites and projects that have some sort of "donations" or "contributions" page where people can contribute whatever they think is fair to support projects they feel are useful. For a while (about 6 months) I've thought about putting up such a page on sculptors.com, but ironically, have kept myself too busy to even get around to asking others for support! I do seem to get lots of feedback and letters of support in email, so I am getting the message that people seem to like my ideas and value the work that I'm doing.

The catch is that, up to this point, even if someone *did* want to support my work, there really wasn't any way to purchase anything. There isn't a book, yet, or a video, and I don't charge admission on the website or membership to be on any mailing lists. So I came up with an idea which I thought might make an interesting experiment...set up a page where people could make contributions if they so choose, and where they get to point out things that they'd like me to work on.

So someone who feels that I should focus my attention on bringing a project such as the disaster-relief domes to marketability, or getting the geodesic hubs manufactured for sale as greenhouse kits (one of my current major thrusts) can make a contribution and "purchase my attention", as it were, and essentially hire me to work on the projects they think are most important.

I've been mulling over the whole issue of funding for the past few months, and I really want to start producing things that people can purchase. I've been running Reality Sculptors as a hobby for about 8 years, but realistically, it's going to need to generate some revenue so we can all stop worrying about day-to-day work in the traditional world and start focusing on finding solutions to some of the bigger issues.

The computer networking costs alone run about $250/month for the co-location of the main web/list server sitting on a T1 line. There are more than a thousand different people who are subscribed to various Sculptors mail lists. I do this stuff because it's fun, and because I enjoy it as a hobby. But if anyone wants to contribute to help defray some of the operational costs, or to develop marketable products (more on that below), they are certainly welcome to.

On The Merits of Not "Working for a Living"

I'd been working in the Silicon Valley computer industry for about 8 years when the Internet Bubble went "POP!" and everything started to collapse. My former company laid off most of its employees and I've been happily "not working for The Man" for about 15 months. I still do small projects and short-term contract work on occasion to help make ends meet, but realistically, working on my various projects in Reality Sculptors is my passion. I'd much rather be trying to make the world work than to just be fixing people's broken computers and networks. :-)

My last job was in network consulting, and people basically hired me and my co-workers to come in and design/build/secure very large computer networks. Something I've come to realize and appreciate during my time away from the day-to-day "rat race" is that, as with most types of jobs, when someone pays you money, they command your attention and get you to focus on something that you might otherwise rather not be doing. Money's the trade-off for your time, attention, and roughly 1/3 of your life.

I cannot easily express the peace of mind and long-term focus that comes with not having to spend 8-10 hours of each day racing to and from a job, or jumping through the daily hoops and endless politics that one finds in just about any workplace. I honestly think that the world may end up a good deal better off if we can get MORE people to be self-sufficient and free from the yoke of "working-forty-years-to-pay-off-a-mortgage". But only if we can get more people who work at what they love, because they love it, not because they're worried about being able to pay the electric bill.

So this got me thinking. I'm in a space where I have all my time to myself, but very little money coming in (hence the little computer jobs & such). I'm getting to do *precisely* what I want, and have made good progress on many different projects. Interestingly enough, even after being my own person for about 15 months, I'm still buried neck-deep in unread books, unfinished projects, and towering piles of things to do, web pages to write, things to design, build, manufacture, etc. I could literally go for years with the projects I have in mind for Reality Sculptors, and try to build it into a company that may actually make a difference in how people live around the planet. As noted before, there's much more than any one person can do, so feel free to jump in!

The balance point I've been trying to strike will allow me to continue to pay the bills and still let me continue to focus on my main areas of interest (i.e. - making the world work for everyone, building shelters for the homeless, food and water systems for those without, and tools like the Autonomous House to drag people (kicking and screaming, if need be :-) ) into the 21st Century and away from the wasteful, polluting technologies of the 19th & 20th Centuries which so many still cling to.

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Patrick Salsbury


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