Editor’s Note: Future of the Great Lakes Den and Illinois Eagle

I’ve gotten a lot more entries on the Great Lakes Den survey (thanks!) and hope to get more. And I’ve launched the survey for The Illinois Eagle. I wanted to explain a bit why I’m doing the surveys and what I’m finding so far.

Daddy Tom is the publisher and founder of Great Lakes Den. He lives in Chicago with his pup. He can be contacted at editor@greatlakesden.net.

I need to know there is a need and desire for the sites. It takes time, effort and money to do these sites, especially on a regional or even statewide level. Finding events and news, contacting people, getting them to respond, hoping people will follow through in sending information or stories, travelling, paying for hosting, paying for social media management, paying to promote the sites (at a certain point, you have to pay to get further reach) and doing it across 8 states with occasional and random help from maybe two or three other people. It’s not easy on just over $100 a month. It’s basically another full time job and I’ve been doing it for 15 years.

That may sound like complaining (and I am a little bit), but I’ve also been willingly doing this for the 15 years. Because it’s what I can give to the community. I suck at public speaking, not crazy about crowds, rarely have much spare money and have no idea how to teach. But I can write and edit. And I can give the community both a voice and a mirror. So I do that. It’s what I can give and I give it freely. Though I wouldn’t mind charging just a little.

So that’s why I’m doing the survey. To find out if there is still the interest and to find out what best helps the community. And, despite one respondent wanting it more G-rated (no, I’m not kidding), you all definitely want to keep the bear/leather/kink coverage front and center. Which I am happy to do. Some LGBTQ news, since there is so much crossover into that. Not so much politics (outside that is). So I’ll try to keep the focus on those two core areas, as I have been.

And there are some good ideas coming through, like features about community leaders, human interest, less contest stuff, covering small events, and having more than one person cover events. All good ideas… if we had more people.

Which brings me to the last thing. If there is enough of a response to the survey (i’d like at least 250 surveys taken), then I’ll start pushing for a bigger expansion. I’ll start the process of making the Great Lakes Den (and Eagle if we don’t move it into the Den) a non-profit news outlet. Complete with board and funding. It won’t be easy. But I have board members already in mind for it. If we create a board of directors, it WILL have people from communities of color, transgender people, women and the younger generation. And I would be reaching out to every LGBTQ and Bear/Leather/Kink business in the region and ask them to contribute $25 a month to the site. $50 if they want to sponsor one of the state sections on the site. Their ads would run for as long as they contribute. And if they sponsor the state sections, then ALL of that money goes to pay for a person covering just that state.

The other money would go to help pay for promotion, membership in LION Publishers (we’d be the first subculture publication) and to pay for writers and photographers. We will still accept donations from our readers as well. If we can get non-profit status, then those will actually be tax-deductible as well.

But all of this can only happen with participation from the community. This is, in a very real way, your publication. If we want to keep our communities growing and learning, then we have to support its institutions (and I’m including all businesses and nonprofits in that). It’s your community, take ownership of it.

If you haven’t already take the surveys below and please share them when you’re done. Thank you.

Illinois Eagle Survey: https://goo.gl/forms/PGTynwrP5wQVb78L2

Great Lakes Den Survey: https://goo.gl/forms/qakbPW32F6t5m5Xl2