Hi, I'm Craig Mod. Join the 1,000+ other SPECIAL PROJECTS members and together we'll produce books, newsletters, longform essays, podcasts, walks, & more.
The main “perk” of membership is in supporting my vast collection of public-facing, freely accessible work.
But members also get access to exclusive discounts, members-only newsletters and podcasts, lectures, zoom calls, and other goodies.
You can support as a …
… or even a …
Hello potential member!
As of Feb 2022, we're entering year four of this program, and the perks and goodies have only increased.
The main split in "perks" is that: Yearly folks (and Lifetime, of course) get big discount coupons on my books and prints. Monthly members don't get the discounts but do get immediate access to THE GOODIE BUCKET, which contains:
Yearly (and Lifetime) members also get a $40 discount code for my 2020 book Kissa by Kissa, $50 off my limited-edition Tōkaidō print, and will get future discounts codes on any other physical books or photographic prints I offer in 2022. Most Yearly members get the cost of membership back in discounts.
The plan for 2022 is to produce and release at least one book and several photographic prints. SPECIAL PROJECTS members will be notified first of these releases, and Yearly and Lifetime members will get big discounts. Plus I plan on holding additional guest lectures, livestreams, and more. It's a great time to join.
All that said: This membership program is, at its core, like a mini NPR — of course, there are perks, but the main reason to become a member should be:
Craig, ya weird bird, I want to see more of your work in the world.
I thank you for that.
Outside of the members-only perks outlined above, the membership program supports the production of the following newsletters, podcasts, and projects, all of which are freely available for members and non-members alike. Sustainable funding of these projects was the initial impetus for Special Projects in 2019.
With three full years under our belt, I can say unequivocally that Special Projects works. With the help of members' subscriptions and feedback, together we've produced an impressive body of work during 2019, 2020, and 2021. Thank you thank you thank you.
I surveyed members at the start of 2022, asking how their experience with SPECIAL PROJECTS has been. Here are some of their responses:
Your candor in bringing us into your work and process has really helped me in my own non-“job job” work (ie the work is really like to be doing) and I find that super valuable. Also very happy to be able to help, in whatever small way :)
I’m partial to artists who lead their lives as a Gesamtkunstwerk, and let folks into many different layers of their creative process (the business parts, the raw materials & idea generating, the edit, etc.). You do that super effectively and it’s probably the biggest perk for me.
Thank you for sharing with us. It’s great to be along for the ride and glad you are able to sustain your art in this way. Please don’t stop. If we need to pay more we will!
Thanks for being a thoughtful, measured voice in a loud and immediate world!
I love the work you’re doing, but I’m more inspired by the way you’re doing that work than the specifics of any given project and I truly find your (public) worldview extremely invigorating. I consider you a mentor-from-afar.
Thanks Craig for sharing so much about your process and being thoughtful about your members. Love your work and using it as an archetype for my own. One of my favorite things about your membership is feeling like I'm part of a community without investing a ton of energy into socializing with people.
My nephew is 18 yrs old and I want to someday show him yr life and say, dream of things that might seem impossible, but you can do whatever you want if you work at it.
I’m so glad you exist in the world and do what you love. It’s such an inspirational bright spot for me. I get so much joy from what you do because of how you do it.
I love the sense of inclusion in your work, that my participation means something. I also love enabling you to do whatever you fancy creatively as I appreciate the power of that (and the older I get, the less I can abide the waste of human potential; if I can help someone enrich their own creative life, I will).
One thing I have been relating the concept of Special Projects to, is tenure (in the academic sense). It is as if your crew has granted you creative tenure - the freedom to explore, create and fail.
There are approximately 380 other responses of similar tenor. I'm confident in saying: It seems like members are getting value out of the program, and that makes me tremendously happy.
Each January, I do a huge look-back on the previous year. You can read my notes on running the program in 2019, 2020, and 2021 here (together, over 20,000 words on running SP):
As for what we made in 2021:
In 2021, with the support of Special Projects, I published over 150,000 words between my many newsletters.
Of particular newsletter note were my "pop-up" Where are all the Nightingales? (WaaTN?; 35,000 words) and Tiny Barber, Post Office (TB,PO; 55,000 words) newsletters.
WaatN? focused on a 500km walk I took around the Kii Peninsula in May / June 2021. Tiny Barber was the daily journal of a thirty day, ten city adventure stretching from Hokkaido to Kagoshima.
Members get access to the archives of those pop-ups newsletters.
I also ran a photography-focused newsletter called, Huh: A Cafe With a View of the Waterfall, which ran for 26 weeks.
For the last couple years I've now consistently published some 150,000+ words each year between regular, pop-up, and members-only newsletters. Pre-SPECIAL PROJECTS, I averaged about 30,000 public-facing words a year. The program has proven to be extremely generative.
As I cap this section each year: My newsletters continue to be my public sketchbook. They act as a forcing function to edit batches of images or take a thin wisp of an idea and see it through to — at least — a darker outline. They are also proving to be nutrient-rich grist for future books. Inadvertently, these newsletters have become something of a homespun encyclopedia, and I find the value of their archives only increases over time. They’ve become a place to point back to, and I find it nearly impossible to publish anything without referencing this public-facing back catalog of ideas.
I call 2021 the year of "maturity" and "refactoring" of SPECIAL PROJECTS. Meaning, we cleaned up some less-refined aspects of logistics and production.
I hired an assistant in January 2021. They have been terrifically helpful. In particular, they were instrumental in our transition to a new warehouse and fulfillment center. They also helped connect me with a new printer in Matsumoto, Nagano. Our weekly check-in calls have kept me focused and grounded.
Thanks to this work, we were able to produce a third edition of Kissa by Kissa. The printing quality has been kicked up several notches, and we utilize a more lay-flat friendly binding style. It's the best iteration on the book yet.
Connected to Kissa by Kissa, I produced two short documentaries in 2021.
One is about a kissaten I passed on my walk in 2019.
The other is about the craftspeople behind the production of Kissa by Kissa.
Much of 2021 was spent in a suspended "state of emergency" — making walk-planning difficult. Still, I managed to knock out two so-called "serious" walks.
In May / June I walked some 500 kilometers around the Kii Peninsula — along the Ise-ji, Kumano Kodō, and Ohechi routes.
In November / December I planned and executed a thirty-day trip to ten mid-sized cities in Japan. The list was: Hakodate, Morioka, Sakata, Matsumoto, Tsuruga, Onomichi, Matsuyama, Yamaguchi, Karatsu, and Kagoshima. I walked about thirty kilometers in each city.
I wrote nearly 100,000 words during those trips / walks, published mainly to two pop-up style newsletters: Where are all the Nightingales? and Tiny Barber, Post Office. Members get access to the archives.
Here's a supercut of the "more exciting" Tiny Barber moments:
I also wrote about how "Looking Closely is Everything", noting the ways in which the pandemic has rewired my eyeballs. And, having run two successful "pop-up" newsletters by this point, in July 2021 I published "Pop-up Newsletter are the Greatest Newsletters".
Finally, in August, inspired by Teju Cole's latest book, I wrote up a retrospective on his photobook oeuvre: "Photos and Words and Teju Cole's the Golden Apple of the Sun".
Most of my words-in-the-world during 2021 were newsletter and book and craigmnod.com focused. That said, I did publish a few essays elsewhere.
I also started a new series for Papersky Magazine about electric bicycles. My first column came out: "Donuts on the Mind".
The summer was filled with a COVID spike here in Japan; which was fine for me, since I needed to hunker down and prep for the production of the third edition of Kissa by Kissa. Leading to its launch in late September.
All of the above was membership-powered, so — thank you!
2021 continued to be a strange year-at-large for the entirety of humanity. Unpredictable, stuck in Japan, I doubled down on getting to work on the work I thought I should be doing.
In the end, 2021 was one of the most productive and satisfying years of my life — personally and professionally. It feels like the year that this membership program "matured." It's certainly the year I realized how much of an effect I was having on readers as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive response to my pop-up newsletters and other writing.
My gratitude for the opportunity to do this work is larger than an html file can hold.
With three years under our belt, SPECIAL PROJECTS is a crew, no longer entirely rag-tag (though I will always think of it that way), with a history — a history! — and I look forward to living up to the standard we've set thus far.
Man, this page is long! It's wild to me that the above output, production, work, motivation, encouragement, and downright permission was 100% undeniably, explicitly, and unequivocally kindled and stoked and gasoline-doused by the support of SPECIAL PROJECTS members — both financially and spiritually. My members are amazing cheerleaders, and give me just the right amount of shit when I hem and haw.
So thank you for that and I look forwarding to continuing this relationship in 2022, with members new and old alike.
Super easy, barely an inconvenience. Login at here to view your account, upgrade, cancel, check on your membership. If you have any problems, email firstname.lastname@example.org directly and I'll get it fixed / sorted. You’ll get an email reminder a week or two before any yearly recurring payment fires off; if you choose to cancel you can do so with just a couple clicks. I don’t want anyone paying a single cent accidentally. If you're accidentally charged, email me and I'll get a refund out.
Even though this membership page is on my (secure) site, memberships are processed and managed securely through Memberful. Credit cards (and Apple Pay) go through Stripe. Everything is secure. (This is the exact same system used by, for example Kottke.org and The New Consumer.) I don’t see your payment information. It’s all locked away in high-security digital vaults on billion-dollar company servers.
Best thing to do is subscribe to my Roden, and Ridgeline newsletters. Anything happening outside of those newsletter is announced in the newsletters. If you feel like you get enough value from them, join Special Projects sometime in the future.
Yep. In July 2020 we switched over to Special Projects.
Years later, and I still live and die by Mitsubishi's elegantly named MJ-P180NX-W. It features 24 hour continuous drainage-via-hose, and I have kept a few of these puppies running for months without hiccup. They are beastly dehumidifiers, able to save a room from the most soggy of Japan summers.
Still enamored with the Sharp HX-H120-W Plasma Cluster ceramic heater / humidifier. The heater / humidifier combo produces a vapor that is soft and warm and can best be described as life giving, the tree of life itself, the breath of a gentle god in the frigid winter months.