How are you hanging in there? Sometimes I tell people I'm holding it together, sometimes I tell people I'm losing it—it really just depends on the mood, the moment, and the latest thing the president said. Is he still the president? Will this nightmare ever end?
This is just a quick update on how The Stranger is doing. We are now a month and a half into this crisis—a month and a half since that Friday the 13th when we had to lay off 18 incredibly talented people to have any hope of staying in business—but thanks to generous readers like YOU, we are seeing glimmers of hope.
Make no mistake, your continued donations to The Stranger are currently keeping us alive. I started donating $5 a month myself, recurring, even though that donation goes right back into my paycheck, because I can't imagine how unbelievably boring this city would become without The Stranger, and I can afford $5 a month. Can you?
In the early days of the crisis, your donations rescued us when we were in serious "deer in headlights" mode. Your dollars gave us the breathing room we needed at that moment to develop new revenue streams that will hopefully help keep us going. Your contributions to The Stranger are also providing a marketing budget for local charitable and neighborhood organizations during these uncertain times.
We are matching your dollars in a pay-it-forward spirit and extending ad campaigns to three local groups each week who are helping out the community. One week, it was Bloodworks Northwest, YouthCare, and Neighborhood Farmers Market Association. Another week, it was Northwest Harvest, El Centro De La Raza, and the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority. This week, it is Beacon Hill Business Alliance, SupportCapitolHill.com, and West Seattle Junction Association.
Another new revenue stream is the Silent Reading Party, a monthly gathering I have been hosting for free at the Sorrento for the last 11 years, but is now a weekly Wednesday night Zoom party (or a Thursday morning party, if you live in Australia) that is drawing together hundreds of people a week. Tickets are $5-$20, although most people pay $20 (get yours here). That's just one of many new streaming events we're offering these days.
We've also been developing reported stories, blog posts about people riding their bikes in supermarkets, photo essays, homemade videos, popular AM and PM news round-ups, and more to make your life better in self-isolation and to keep you informed on what's going on in the city.
Our reporting recently has taken a look at what hair salons are going through, the lawsuit against Facebook from Washington state that was instigated by our reporting, and the opportunity Seattle's indie bookstores have to steal market share from Amazon, now that Amazon officially DGAF about books.
We've also been covering right-wing efforts to protest Gov. Inslee's orders, and Facebook actually cracking down against those protest organizers. We are equal opportunity skeptics, though; we also covered a Democratic lawmaker who drew crowds with free ice cream in an Issaquah park.
We've looked at how COVID-19 affects sexual assault resources and the question of whether Seattle needs a payroll tax to put money back into the pockets of those who need it most. We've written about the panicked renters begging city council for help, as well as about the "completely out of luck" undocumented community. And we've taken a look at how many legislators in Olympia—the people who make the rules—are themselves landlords.
We have dug into the city's experiments with street closures to allow more room for pedestrians to move freely and distantly from each other, and we have reported on the bleak forecast for food insecurity statewide.
But we're trying not to be all doom-and-gloom. We've also been commissioning morning messages of hope or connection from the city's creative leaders (from theater artists to musicians to Jeopardy! champions) as well as our leader leaders (like the city council president).
We have been dogged in updating our comprehensive listings of streaming events, restaurants offering takeout and delivery, other small businesses offering pickup or delivery, and other ways to support small businesses.
We've also retooled our film festivals to be streamed directly to you, so you can enjoy SPLIFF and HUMP! and our other one-of-a-kind festivals from the comfort of your own home. (If you've been around the block a couple times, you know that HUMP! used to only ever happen in a movie theater—you were a porn star for the weekend, not for life, and we destroyed copies afterward, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the internet—but we are living in another world now. Even though the new world order requires us to stream it, we are only doing so if the filmmakers give us the okay.)
HUMP! was the biggest thing that saved The Stranger back in 2005, when Craigslist eliminated classified advertising—and some 40 percent of revenue—industrywide. Instead of cutting 40 percent of the costs of doing journalism, we invented that amateur porn festival, and kept our writers employed. We are grateful that filmmakers have been flexible and that we've found a way to keep HUMP! in the mix, and we can't wait to share this year's films with you. It happens May 9 to June 12, and it's hosted by Dan Savage.
There's also the absolutely hilarious I, Anonymous Show produced by our sister publication, the Portland Mercury (get your tickets for the May 8 show here) and something we just thought of called the Confinement Online Film Festival (learn how to make and submit your mini-movie here).
And did you know that we're currently streaming Charles Mudede's 2005 debut film, Police Beat, based on a column he used to write in The Stranger, which was a literary take on Seattle police reports? Charles talks about it here.
And did I already mention the weekly Silent Reading Party?
We're just getting started. We're not going to let a virus and an incompetent president destroy what's great about The Stranger. Our staff is working morning, noon, and night to make your donations count.
We knew we could not weather this storm without help from you. And you helped us. Since March 11, we have received over 8,600 contributions from our readers, and we are forever grateful.