BOOST HOUSE 1-YEAR CHECK-IN
ok friends hello (this is steve writing) !! first off: happy 2015 !!!!!! Booooom!! second off: i want to apologize for not posting more of a consistent stream of updates about Boost House over the past year… so far, our social media presence has been much more sparing than i originally planned. i want to share this post to give an overview of the past year for Boost House, as well as our plans going forward!!
so, my overall feeling about the first year of Boost House is this: we did great work and we learned a lot for the future, but i do honestly wish we got *more* work done. i think “the yolo pages" is an epic and super-helpful anthology, bringing together so many awesome voices and styles of writing. and maybe even more, i think joshua jennifer espinoza’s book "i’m alive / it hurts / i love it" is one of the most beautiful and important collections of contemporary poetry by anyone. i’m very proud that those have been our first two major book projects, and you should check them out if you havent! and we have a couple forthcoming book projects already planned for 2015 that i feel will be similarly great! but honestly we were hoping to get more books published in our first year, quantity-wise. actually we decided to extend the "1-year-subscription" reward on our kickstarter to 2 years, since we were less prolific in our first year than we planned.
we did an east-coast tour as a group in 2014, and it was great! but unfortunately we didn’t have access to a vehicle we could use for nationwide group touring yet. we were able to provide residencies for a few writers in maine, and quick visits from others, but more of those would’ve been ideal too. we made some progress with the Internet Free Skool, taking applications for classes and choosing some, but issues came up with leadership and pulling together a final list of classes we were happy with, as well as technology issues; hopefully that project will still happen in 2015, with the help of one of our new team members (discussed briefly below)! our IRL community building was also weak in brunswick, maine. partly that’s an effect of the small college town we chose to start with, and partly it was our own failures: we didn’t choose a centrally located house that we could easily use as a venue for poetry readings, and we didn’t prioritize building in-person relationships enough from the start. we’ve learned from those mistakes and won’t make them again in 2015..
why didn’t we get *more* done in 2014, on these various fronts ? well, there are a lot of little reasons, many things we could improve upon, as a group and as individuals. i think the #1 reason is that we didn’t focus our time as totally on Boost House work as i predicted we would. we weren’t making enough money from book/shirt sales to make Boost House our full-time jobs, so emily and rachel got other jobs in maine, and i spent a bunch of my own time on solo poetry tours and other attempts to make income by myself as a poet (starting a Patreon page for my videos, etc). so this left us with less time dedicated to Boost House group work, and it was a bit of a downward spiral of BH productivity at times. even though we were living in “Boost House” together, the BH work was really a side-job for each of us this past year, not the main thing we were each doing. i think we could improve on this by dedicating ourselves to paying Boost House bills entirely with BH work/BH income. last year, sometimes i would decide to just do a solo tour and donate the money to BH to cover rent, because it was easier to immediately figure out as a funding source. but that meant BH group work got put on the backburner while i did those solo tours. stuff like that. anyway though! moving forward:
some of you already know this, but for the past couple months, Boost House has actually been in-between locations. emily and rachel were particularly unhappy living in small-town Maine, so we decided to move. we left our Maine location, spent the holidays with family and other friends, and now we are about to relocate to… get ready, u won’t guess it… Tucson, Arizona. our main criteria for choosing a new location was: (1) bigger city, (2) warmer climate, (3) cheap rent. based on those factors, we chose Tucson; it has all three. other benefits of tucson: we have some poet-friends already there, the scenery is beautiful, it’s bike-friendly, and tucson is actually home to the largest poetry library in the united states. because of proximity to the Mexican border there is a lot of activism happening around immigration that we hope to get involved with too. we hope to secure a centrally located house with a big living room, so we can host shows and potlucks there regularly, building strong community from the start. we’re aiming to be in Tucson starting in February!
along with the new location, we’re also revising our financial model a bit. in an effort to make our monthly expenses more consistent and predictable, we’re setting a more strict monthly food budget, and only spending that money on cheap staple foods like rice, beans, oatmeal, bananas, maybe pasta (?), etc… these bulk staples will be available for everyone in the house to share, but if house members want other specialty foods, those won’t be covered by the house. also, we’ve decided we’re open to gradually bringing in new residents who don’t help as much with BH work, but they contribute some money for rent/food instead. long-term, that model may help us increase the total energy and number of people in the house, without requiring us to assign specific jobs to all residents, or make as much extra income to cover all their rent/groceries. our income is actually pretty low as a small press, so we’ve found that an “arts residency” model, fully funding all residents, is not easy for us to actually achieve. so we’re moving more toward a co-op house model (most co-op houses still have residents who pay a monthly contribution for room and board).
this past august we took applications for new team members too, and we chose two new people we really really like! but it didn’t work for those folks to come immediately to maine in the fall, and we haven’t confirmed if they can join us right away in our new location or not. it sounds like maybe they will join us in the spring or summer. if they do, you will hear about it!!
ok frends, that covers most of it ! i also want to say: If you still haven’t received something yet as a Kickstarter reward, etc, please email us and let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org ! mailing those rewards was chaotic, and some backers didn’t fill out the Kickstarter survey, etc etc. i think specifically the “rare documents” reward got very messy because i got interrupted half-way thru mailing them. i wouldn’t be surprised if some packages didn’t get sent correctly; so please let us kno: email@example.com is the best way to contact us!
onward!! into another year!! smarter, more experienced, more effective.. we can do some things that are good.. i know we can.. <3 warmly, steve & boost house