Power of the Positive
After three years of shining a spotlight on our community's positive news we need a little help from our friends to continue building our unique model of solution-focused Community Action Journalism, keeping Clydesider magazine free for all to enjoy.
But we're not asking just for us.
In keeping with everything we do at Clydesider Creative, our Crowdfunder aims to work with our community. So 10% of everything we raise will go into a Clydesider Community Action Fund and if we reach our original goal of £5,000 we'll increase that to 15% for everything over and above. We also have a stretch target of £10,000 and should we reach that then we will put 25% of anything over into the Fund.
Please read on for our full story.
A 'Ray of Sunshine'
In 2014 a small group of community activists from West Dunbartonshire in Scotland came together to set up Clydesider magazine.
Our aim - to show there is much more to low-income communities like ours than certain politicians, commentators and media outlets would have you believe.
By highlighting positive, solution-focused stories which are mainly written by local volunteers who are equally passionate about our community we felt we could start tackling some of the negative stereotypes which people have of West Dunbartonshire - and places like ours.
There is a growing body of evidence that shows an overload of negative news leaves people feeling anxious, fearful and powerless. In contrast solution-focused reporting encourages people to take action because they are inspired by others and have a sense of hope that change is possible. There is an excellent book by Jodie Jackson called You Are What You Read which explains this evidence and the psychology behind it.
So with a focus firmly on the positive we launched Issue 1 in September 2016 and for the past three years our free, quarterly publication has been shining a spotlight on that ‘other’ West Dunbartonshire.
Here's a glimpse of what it looks like.
“A wonderful magazine celebrating everything positive and creative in West Dunbartonshire. In a world of bad news this publication is a ray of sunshine. The community spirit leaps from every obviously lovingly put together page. And it’s free! You couldn’t ask for more. Totally recommend.”
Dhyani Crawford, Clydesider reader
From an initial ‘kitchen committee’ of five we’ve grown to a team of 100+ contributors and volunteers from all walks of life, some professionals - most graduates from the school of hard knocks - all passionate about our community.
Each issue is packed with stories of grassroots resilience, individual creativity and inspiration which deserve their space in the media spotlight as much, perhaps more than, those of the privileged, the celebrity and the political.
And as we've grown we've developed a more solution-focused approach to our reporting.
Our readers tell us they love what we're producing. This is what they like about Clydesider according to our recent Reader Survey:-
“I had moved away from Dumbarton for years and when I moved back I was shocked at how depressed the area – and the people – had become, folk seem to have given up hope. Your magazine is changing that, people are taking a pride in their community again.” Sam Paton, local business owner
Most of these stories are written by our volunteers - all of whom are from West Dunbartonshire.
Being part of the community they report on they know what our area's bad news looks and feels like. They also know about the grassroots organisations and inspirational individuals who quietly help people dealing with life's challenges. These hidden heroes exist in every community but rarely make the front page.
Few of our volunteers have any journalism experience so we run media skills workshops and provide both 1-1 and group support to work on articles. As our volunteers grow in confidence and ability, they encourage others to get involved.
Together we have published 10 issues of Clydesider and are currently working on Issue 11 - out in November.
They tell us that being part of the Clydesider team is having a positive impact on their lives. This is what they like about being a Clydesider volunteer:-
“I always wanted to be a journalist and went to college to do journalism but I never pursued it, however I always had it in me that I wanted to write. When I started volunteering at Clydesider I was really nervous because I hadn’t written for a long, long time but as I came in each week I started to realise there was something different about this organisation - it was community-led and not sensationalised.
"This sat with me because I wasn’t harming anyone with my writing and I love it. What I love most about it is that people don’t run away from you when you tell them you write for Clydesider – they want to tell you their story. It has also helped my confidence grow and I love writing about real people from my community.” Angela Clark, Clydesider volunteer
More Than A Magazine
But there's a lot more to Clydesider than the quarterly print publication.
As we all come from the local community we really want to not just report on the positive news stories but also be actively involved in unravelling some of our deep-seated problems and bringing people together to understand how we can develop local solutions.
This year we have run several events that focused on our community's potential.
Our 'Walkin' Talkins' looked at the potential of our local heritage, the 'Vale in Focus' explored the good, the bad and the downright ugly of life in the Vale of Leven and our 'Focus on Change WD: Learning from the Grassroots' Community Gathering brought together local individuals, organisations, politicians and policymakers to look at how together we tackle the huge challenge of poverty.
These events bring a solution-focused approach to our problems, looking at what is already happening and what else we can do to bring about more positive change.
The starting point for our events is the same as for our journalism. It's a belief in the power of positivity and community.
"I thought the event was excellent and inspiring. I am always impressed by the fantastic work community groups, voluntary organisations and volunteers do and yesterday wasn’t an exception. I also enjoyed the exhibition."
Brian McQuillan, Communities Team West Dunbartonshire Council commenting on our Focus on Change WD event
We want to continue this way of working, and use our near unique mix of journalism and community activism skills, creative expertise and local grassroots knowledge to develop solutions as part of our community.
It takes time and trust to build our brand of positive community action journalism and with the end of two grant funds fast approaching we need the support of our wider community to ensure Clydesider has a sustainable future.
That takes money - and yes, a lot more than the £5,000 we hope to raise from this Crowdfunder.
But this is Phase One of our sustainability plan and we will use some of the money raised to develop our Clydesider Membership scheme. We need to do this because advertising alone doesn't cover the magazine's costs and we want to keep the strong editorial focus which our readers enjoy.
We don't want to put a cover charge on the Clydesider and believe a pay-what-you-can afford membership scheme will allow us to keep the print publication free for all to enjoy.
To do this we need the expertise of a web developer and digital support to build our social media audience to ensure the scheme is successful when we are ready to launch it - that is what the Crowdfunder will pay for.
But we're not just asking for ourselves.
Invest in Us, Invest in Our Community
As part of our membership scheme we intend to establish a Clydesider Community Action Fund to help resource some of the ideas and initiatives that come from our solution-focused events.
Members will help decide how that fund is spent and we would like to start this Fund by putting 10% of everything raised from this Crowdfunder into it.
If we reach our original target of £5,000 we'll increase that contribution to 15% for anything over and above and should we exceed our stretch goal of £10,000 then 25% of everything over the £10,000 mark will go into the Fund.
So by supporting us, you are supporting our community and putting West Dunbartonshire at the forefront of a truly positive news story!