People walking
 

Hi, I'm Craig Mod. Join the thousands of other SPECIAL PROJECTS members and together we'll produce books, newsletters, longform essays, podcasts, walks, & more.

People walking more
 

Memberships support my vast collection of public-facing, freely accessible work.

But members also get access to exclusive discounts, members-only newsletters and podcasts, lectures, board meeting calls, and other goodies.

You can support as a …

  • members-only newsletter(s)
  • "boring" livestreams, bi-annual Board Meetings
  • full members-only website access (see below)
  • members-only podcast

… or even a …

  • ALL THE ABOVE
  • + you will surprise the heck out of me
  • + sort of scare me a bit
  • + "receive" a discount after 15 years of membership!

… member.

People walking + craig

Illustration by Luis Mendo

 

What Members Have to Say

Here are what some members have had to say about the program:

Your candor in bringing us into your work and process has really helped me in my own non-“job job” work (ie the work I'd 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.

These are from a survey I sent out. 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.


Things Become Other Things Morioka Behind the Scenes Kissa by Kissa

What you get when you join

Hello potential member!

As of February 2024, SPECIAL PROJECTS has been around for an unbelievable five years. Thank you to everyone who has supposed me this far. We're now entering Year Six and the perks and goodies have only gotten perkier and goodier.


Discounts are the main difference between YEARLY/LIFETIME and MONTHLY membership:

YEARLY/LIFETIME members


Otherwise, everyone (YEARLY/LIFETIME + MONTHLY) gets access to the SPECIAL PROJECTS members-only website: members.specialprojects.jp. On which, you'll find archives and access to:

  • Members-only newsletter(s) + archives
  • Members-only livestreams — 69 videos, 112 hours of archives — I often do "coworking" livestreams where I'm happy to chat and answer questions as we work together
  • Members-only Office Hours podcast; me answering some of my most frequently asked questions in podcast form
  • Members-only launch events + archivesTBOT + Kissa by Kissa book launches + documentary film launches
  • Members-only “Pop-Up Walks” mini-documentary archives
  • Members-only guest lectures
  • Members-only Instagram account
  • Twice-yearly members-only "Board Meetings" + archives
  • Digital copies (PDF) of my books Koya Bound and Art Space Tokyo
  • Nightingalingale TBOT writing diary archives (210+ issues)
  • Pop-up newsletter archives (100,000+ words):
    • SMS Book SMSes
    • Pachinko Road (Tōkaidō)
    • Where are all the Nightingales? (Kumano Kodō)
    • Tiny Barber, Post Office (Ten Cities Across Japan)
    • MIBAW (Cotswolds)
    • KIIIIIIIIIIIIIII (Kumano Kodō)
    • TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO (#1) and (#2) and (#3)

Yearly/LIFETIME members will get future discounts codes on any other physical books or photographic prints I offer in 2024. Most Yearly members easily received the cost of membership back through discounts.

SPECIAL PROJECTS members will always be notified first of the release of limited edition books and prints, and Yearly and Lifetime members will always get big discounts.


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.


What Gets Made Unlocking the Commons

Outside 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.

  • Ridgeline weekly newsletter — using walking as a platform or "operating system" to explore the world and run publishing experiments
  • Roden monthly newsletter — books, design, photography, literature, Japan
  • On Margins podcast — stories behind designing and producing books
  • SW945 binaural ambient recordings along historic paths in Japan
  • "Nothing Exciting" Japan Walking Videos — over eighty videos of moments across the countryside of Japan
  • Long form essays on craigmod.com and elsewhere
  • Open-source projects like Craigstarter

With five 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, 2021, 2022, and 2023. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.


kissa by kissa and tbot side by side

Work in 2023

Each January/February, I do a huge look-back on the previous year. You can read my notes on running the program in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 here (together, over 30,000 words on running SP):


Walks and Newsletters

You can read about the walks I took in 2023 here: "Walking 2023".

In 2023, with the support of Special Projects, I published well-over 100,000 words between my many newsletters.

All members get access to the archives of those pop-ups newsletters.

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.


Bigger Output

SPECIAL PROJECTS enabled me to publish the Fine Art Edition of my book, Things Become Other Things and the fifth (!!) edition of Kissa by Kissa.

We also had a collectively profound influence on a mid-sized city in northern Japan. I wrote extensively about my experiences in Morioka:


The Membership Engine

2023 was a big year for the program — the most books sold, the most members. I sold the hardcover and paperback rights of Things Become Other Things to Random House and am hard at work on that, scheduled to be published in Spring 2025.

I can see the next five books I want to write and produce. SPECIAL PROJECTS enables me to get to doing, rather than just hoping to do.

My gratitude for the opportunity to do the work that I'm doing is larger than an HTML file can hold.

With five years under our belt, SPECIAL PROJECTS is a crew, no longer rag-tag (though I will always think of us that way), with a history — a history! — and I look forward to living up to the standard we've set thus far.


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 2024, with members new and old alike.

Craig (memberships@specialprojects.jp)

Thank you, 2023
 

So, ya in? As for pitches, that's all I got.

Join Special Projects as a
monthly ($10 USD),
yearly ($100 USD), or
lifetime ($1500 USD) member.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

 

Hypothetically Asked Questions

How easy is it to unsubscribe/cancel membership?

Super easy, barely an inconvenience. Login at here to view your account, upgrade, cancel, check on your membership. If you have any problems, email memberships@specialprojects.jp 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.

Who handles billing / are h4ck3rs going to get my credit card info?

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.

I just landed on this page, have never heard of you, am not entirely convinced but am willing to give you a shot. Where should I begin reading before I decide to become a member?

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.

I'm a student, don't have many bucks, but I want to become a member. Do you have a cheaper plan?

I have a free tier for students. Email memberships@specialprojects.jp and we'll sort you out. (You don't have to do anything in particular to "prove" you're a student; I trust you. Why students?)

Wasn't this called "Explorers Club" a long time ago?

Yep. In July 2020 we switched over to Special Projects.

What's the best dehumidifier in your wise opinion, you airflow / air quality neurotic, you?

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.

OK, but what's your current go-to humidifier?

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.