Issue 023
January 23, 2019

The Explorers Club Membership

If you enjoy what I’ve been doing these past few years, and want to see more, please consider becoming a supporting member.

Good citizens of Rodenia —

I need your help.

The Explorers Club is going official.

If you enjoy what I’ve been doing these past few years, and want to see more, please consider becoming a supporting member.

2019 is the year I’d like to drastically upgrade my work/output/volume, and I can’t do that without your help.

The Plan

I don’t start this membership program lightly, and I do it with all the fear and trepidation you’d expect of someone who isn’t a psychopath, who respects their audience, is generally self aware, who treats these sorts of asks like handling plutonium in a paper sack.

Let me explain.

In 2019 my goal is to produce (at a minimum) the following:

  • Ridgeline weekly newsletter — about the practice of walking
  • Roden monthly newsletter — about books, design, photography, literature, and Japan
  • On Margins monthly podcast — about the stories behind designing and producing books
  • Strange, meaty, quarterly longform pieces
  • A continuous thirty day walk somewhere in Japan, with all the attendant mapping and documenting you’d expect (akin to my project)
  • An end-of-year how-to / what-it-feels-like, mega writeup (ala “Kickstartup”) of running a membership program like this very one

This adds up to an annual total of about 100,000 words written, edited, designed, and published. Your support would go a long way to helping me achieve this.

The Deal

Membership is simple.

You can be a Monthly Explorer, a Yearly Explorer, or a Lifetime Explorer. (There’s also a Student Explorer tier down in the FAQ.)

The membership page is here:

The “perks” of each tier are all the same (explained below). There’s a small discount for opting-in for a longer period of time.

By becoming a member you’re saying:
Craig, ya weird bird, I wanna to see more of your work in the world.

That means oodles to me.

Roden, Ridgeline, On Margins, and any other essays I produce will all be as free and accessible as they’ve always been, to members and non-members alike. This is an important point for me. And, against the advice of most people I’ve spoken with, I believe that your membership support it isn’t contingent on super special or exclusive access.

I see projects like On Margins as evergreen and educational — a class in book thinking. I want it to be fully open to students and publishers (big and small, alike) around the world.

So the deal is: You support this work as a member, and everyone gets more of it, as accessibly as ever.

With my explorer cap on, I am so very curious as to how it feels to run a program like this. Today’s membership and payments infrastructure coupled with email and the open web feels like a powerful toolset for independent publishing, a testing ground for Kevin’s 1,000 True Fans. I’d like for us to see just how good it is or isn’t. (And think about how we can make it better, together.)


OK, OK, sure, Craig, but what are you making?

Aside from the general overview above, here’s a preview of some upcoming content:

  • Lisa Brennan-Jobs interview on On Margins (out in the next few days)
  • Jessica Hische interview on On Margins
  • An essay on newsletters, email, and the open web
  • I’ve been invited to CERN in February for some geeky secret work. You bet I’ll be writing / photographing that up.
  • I’m working with Japan scholar John McBride on drastically expanding to be more inclusive of other walks, a more generalized knowledge collection for people who wish to explore the area
  • I have a (currently) 12,000 word essay on walking that needs another draft rev, and your membership will help that happen

I also have ten interviews recorded during my walk along the Camino de Santiago in Spain last year and … well, I’d like to do something with some of them. Your support will help me create the time to do that.

But, Perks!

That said, being a member has some perks. I expect to expand these over time, but for now they’re:

  • A members only Inside Explorers newsletter where I’ll give rough information (monthly?) about how the program is going — extremely short blips. You can unsubscribe from this instantly, too, if you’re already at Peak Newsletter Overflow.
  • You’ll get discount codes for all my previous books and special discounts on other books going forward
  • I’ll announce workshops / retreats to members a bit in advance, as they can fill up quickly
  • If an event runs out of tickets, we’ll try to sneak you in the backdoor

And you’ll also get a couple of presents as soon as you sign up:

  • Digital copies of my books Koya Bound and Art Space Tokyo
  • A pack of five walking-in-Japan wallpapers for your smartphone:

Exciting Wallpaper Perk

I think it’s a fascinating time to be involved with independent publishing on (and off) the web. As more stuff gets shoved into silos, and less content is built on open platforms, a little bit of the founding spirit of the web is lost. I see a membership program like this as a chance to weave together available technology in a pretty frictionless way to unlock truly independent, evergreen content that’s a little bit odd, a little bit more esoteric than you’d find in traditional publications.

My consideration for running a program like this began about a year ago, but it wasn’t until I was working on my recent Wired piece, writing about newsletters and funding, the state of publishing, that I sort of picked my head up and thought: If we’re going to do it, isn’t now the time?

I’m proud of the work I’ve been producing here, in my little corner of the networked digital world. I’d like to do more of it, with greater focus and care and attention. Your membership would go a long way in helping me achieve these goals.

As always, thank you for reading, and thank you for your support.

— C

writing on the floor, vcca, winter