THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! We can't believe we got over 50% of the way to our original goal in LESS THAN A DAY. 🌠 OUR NEW DREAM IS $35k! 🌠
We would also be PSYCHED to achieve:
- 700 Total Backers (remember, even if you can only back for $1, it helps!!)
- 1,000 Likes on Facebook (here's our Facebook page!)
- 1,000 Followers on Twitter (here we are on Twitter!)
And now... back to our original campaign:
We explore the edges, asking: What is a meaningful life in this rapidly changing world? The New Modality looks at culture, art, both science and spirituality, relationships, tech, business, governance, and beyond, because change is occurring at all levels: the individual, family, community, city, nation, and the world.
We’ll print three beautiful issues per year. We’ll also post some material online free, for anyone to read. And we will host events, starting in the Bay Area and New York. The money we raise from subscriptions, donations, and crowdfunding will go to printing expenses, paying contributors, and all the other costs of starting a new publication — and in the future, we dream about supporting experiments in culture by giving grants of our own.
We just launched our website, where you’ll find:
- An article on “New Modality Weddings: How To Get Married Without Selling Out” by Jessica Carew Kraft. Kraft is a former wedding industry insider whose previous writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, and more. For this article, she investigated non-traditional weddings, noting that “If we look beyond the glossy magazines, there are as many ways to get married as there are options, in a combinatorial matrix of gender spectrum, sexuality, age, wealth, cultural tradition, and spiritual background.”
- Concept art from Antariksha Sanchar, a steampunk-psychedelic game-dance-transmedia thing created by Avinash Kumar and Quicksand Design, which tells the story of a late-1800s mathematician hero from a small Indian village who goes to Mars. Antariksha Sanchar describes itself as “a speculative science fiction adventure inspired by the vibrant cultures of South India, created earnestly to celebrate the independent exploration of our Universe.” The concept art contains an astounding array of references, from early 1900s pulp fiction to Kumar’s mom, a traditional Indian dancer.
- An op-ed, “The Ideology of Transhumanism: The Ethics of Transcending Our Physical Bodies” by Anna Lewis, a biotech ethicist currently at Harvard. Lewis, who used to work in the biotech industry, describes how transhumanism intersects with current tech culture. She then lays out the different philosophical schools that could affect the tech that gets built.
- A short exploration of “What’s New About The New Modality?” by Benjamin Wachs. Wachs was previously Burning Man's official "philosopher in residence" and the lead writer/researcher for its education program, and we’re grateful to him for penning this piece about whether we’re actually doing anything new. As he points out: “The absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco said that it’s the job of the avant-garde to rediscover eternal truths.”
- … And more, with more to come!
At The New Modality, we believe that no problem is too big and no issue is too small to be addressed with optimism, empathy, and human brilliance.
If you think it’s time to reimagine how we live and you want to learn from others who are doing the same, join us.
Special note: The New Modality's founder Lydia Laurenson supports Kickstarter workers’ efforts to unionize and she was #33 to sign this petition (which you can sign, too!). We are considering organizing a panel and/or a podcast interview to discuss the Kickstarter union push, as well as tech industry unionization more broadly. If you think that sounds interesting, let us know through Kickstarter or on Twitter!
Lydia Laurenson has been tracking the edge of culture her entire career. She helped San Francisco social club The Battery start their magazine two years ago, and oversaw the first five issues. She’s worked extensively in media innovation, most notably as director of strategy and research at the award-winning geopolitical journalism company News Deeply, and as a semi-famous independent blogger under the pseudonym Clarisse Thorn. As a freelance writer, Lydia has contributed to Vice, The Atlantic, the Harvard Business Review, and other publications.
The New Modality is supported by a core team that includes:
- Nick Pinkston, an entrepreneur in the automated manufacturing space who has spoken at the Obama White House about the future of work;
- Rose Broome, whose last startup, HandUp, was a direct donation system for people experiencing homelessness (and was one of the first startups to incorporate as a Public Benefit Corporation!);
- Michael J. Coren, a reporter at Quartz and former managing editor of the Phnom Penh Post;
- Ben Aldern, an entrepreneur specializing in data science;
- Jenna Van Hout, a designer who’s tried her hand at everything from custom artistic letterpress invitations, to designing for Airbnb, Google, Bloomberg, the X Prize, HBO, the Sierra Club, and more;
- and Jonathan Stray, who taught at Columbia Journalism School for a decade, and worked at ProPublica and the Associated Press before joining the Partnership on AI as an AI policy researcher.
- We have also partnered with Brittney Gallagher at Pacifica Radio to produce audio material, and we are sponsored by Independent Arts & Media, a San Francisco nonprofit that specializes in supporting artists, journalists, and media producers.
Note: Although we are fiscally sponsored by IAM, Kickstarter contributions to The New Modality are not tax-deductible. But sometimes it's possible to get tax deductions while also getting rewards! If you have access to an employee donation matching program or would prefer to make a tax-deductible donation for some other reason, please contact Lydia directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, check out the Donation Logistics page on our website.
The New Modality holds three core values close to our organizational heart:
- Truth and Transparency
- Respect and Empathy
We’ve thought a lot about how to stay clear with our values and stay accountable to our community, and we’re excited to continue the conversation with others who are as passionate about those topics as we are. If you can think of someone who shares our values and sheds light in the world, please consider nominating them to be a New Modality Catalyst, so we can learn more about their work and maybe even get their input on how we're doing.
We received some early donation money that has helped us cover stuff like website setup costs, lawyer fees for writing our contributor contracts, etc. No one on the creative side has gotten any money yet, including Lydia, who’s been working full-time on The New Modality for months. This Kickstarter will cover printing costs, help us pay our contributors and editors, and (fingers crossed) pay for above-and-beyond stuff like actual professional fact-checking (whaaaat?!) if we knock it out of the park.
Our long-term plan is for The New Modality to become a sustainable, subscription-funded organization. We hope to work in service of truth and beauty, to provide enough value to the community that the publication is supported by its readers, and to treat contributors well. Yes, this is idealistic and ambitious. We need your help to make it happen!
- Videography and editing: Nick Kasimatis at Blackbird Films
- People in the video (in order of appearance): Ben Aldern, John Law, Nick Pinkston, Zarinah Agnew, Lydia Laurenson, Jonathan Stray, and Dorothy Santos
- Burning Man, Meow Wolf, and other tech/art photos donated by Jane Hu
- Cliffside hike photo donated by Matt Bell
- Antariksha Sanchar images courtesy of Avinash Kumar (check out our profile of Antariksha Sanchar)
- Other photos via Unsplash
- (Note: Credit is not required by Unsplash, but we will go through the photos that made it into the video and credit photographers after we recover from launch)
Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1/ Which photos would you recommend for the Tom Stahl Archival Metal Burning Man Prints reward?
Tom's photos appear in an article by Jennifer M. Walske, "The Ultimate Act of Gifting: Burning Man's Radical Tradition to a Nonprofit, and How Other Radical Organizations Can Learn From It," which is on The New Modality's website! So you can choose any of those photos, OR, any photo in the Burning Man section of Tom's portfolio site is good for the reward. Here are a few of Tom's favorites:
Here's one of the photos with a particularly good story:
For example, this photo was taken during a memorial service at the Burning Man Temple in 2013. (The Temple is one of few recurring structures at the Burning Man event, and has hosted everything from weddings to funerals.) In 2013, a group of law enforcement officers conducted a funeral for a fallen officer at the Temple, and many nearby Burners joined the funeral as well. After the 2013 event, a Burner named Jon Mitchell wrote on the Burning Man blog: “It had been a big year for run-ins with law enforcement on the playa. We had read plenty of stories about severe and surprising busts in the run-up to Burning Man, and we heard more tales of woe from friends after we arrived. The Bureau of Land Management had insisted on tighter control at the gate. It seemed like a good year to brush up on our rights….”
Mitchell writes that because of this atmosphere, he was initially upset to see law enforcement enter the Temple… until he realized they were there for a funeral. He writes about his reaction to that moment: “My mind buzzed with contradictions. I realized that this was some kind of memorial, which made perfect, beautiful sense. But I couldn’t quiet an angry voice in my mind, raving about Romans and Christians. Why are the forces of the state entering our Temple? I was trying so hard to parse it that I couldn’t concentrate on what was actually happening… until I heard the eulogy for Michael Dwayne Bolinger read out over the radio, and I saw the emotion well up in the faces of the federal agents surrounding me. Kind words were said, tears were shed…. We Burners were full of both fear and love. The BLM, the feds, the human beings in the gray trucks and the khaki uniforms, they were, too. We all stood like holy warriors on the same ground. As I worked hard in my heart to unify these opposing forces, I felt… no, I saw the Presence that underlies them both, presiding over our Temple rituals. I swear to God I did."
... So, in conclusion: if you pledge $350 for a high-quality archival print, then you can pick any one of the four Burning Man images above, or any of the images that we featured in the article "The Ultimate Act of Gifting," or any one of the photos in the Burning Man section on Tom's website.
Risks and challenges
Lydia has overseen the first five issues of a startup magazine within the past few years, so she knows exactly how to make a magazine. In addition to Lydia, The New Modality core team contains multiple successful entrepreneurs and journalists, plus we have partnered with a nonprofit that specializes in arts & media projects. In short, we are well aware of how much of a damn hassle this is — and we embrace that! If funded, this project will happen.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (22 days)