CJ Bernstein

CJ Bernstein

The New Community Fellowship

You may or may not know that Ackerly Green has an initiative called The Community Fellowship. Originally the brainchild of @Augustus_Octavian, the Fellowship serves those in the community who can’t currently manage the cost of new books, merchandise, or memberships, allowing them to make private requests to the Fellowship.

This project is important to me for several reasons, but primarily because I grew up far below the poverty line and know what it’s like to feel left out, isolated, and irrationally ashamed just because I couldn’t afford things others could. I never want anyone in the community to feel that they’re a less valuable member of the community because they can’t buy things from the shop or that the sole focus of this community is to be a money funnel.

Where does the money for the Fellowship come from? From the community itself. Members who are able to contribute have given hundreds and hundreds of dollars to anonymously help others.

But here’s the thing: The Fellowship has been woefully underutilized. I know how hard it can be to ask for even the smallest amount of help, and when you’re struggling or really working to manage your finances, there can be a lot of shame associated with buying something like a book, shirt, or keychain because it’s not “necessary.”

I also don’t think people feel comfortable asking for something because they feel they’re asking me personally to give them something that I made, for free.

Augustus and I have been discussing this a lot and working to figure out how to make the Fellowship work. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

  • Starting with The Book of Briars and The Briar Society: Chapter 1, when new merchandise launches in the shop, a certain number of each item will be set aside for a “Fellowship reserve,” and we’ll announce that either in Book Shops News or a special Fellowship topic.
  • If you’d like to request something set aside for the Fellowship, just private message the new Fellowship account on the forum, which Augustus will confidentially manage.
  • You’ll be given a 100% off coupon, which you can use to purchase the item in the shop.
  • I won’t know who’s made requests or who’s used the coupon. I’ll simply see orders in the shop.
  • There’s nothing else asked of you. If you’re able to contribute to the Fellowship sometime in the future, you’ll be helping someone else who needs support.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Right now, you can make a request twice a year, and it is first-come, first-serve.
  • We plan to have a “Fellowship reserve” for all new products, including the Briar Society starting next year.
  • You’ll need to be Trust Level 2 or higher to make requests. This is to make sure that the Fellowship is truly serving invested members of the community.

I hope this helps those who’ve been reticent to use the Fellowship or who didn’t think they “qualified” to use it. It’s there for everyone who needs it and funded by those who have the means to support it. It’s the purest distillation of what makes this community so great. We are living different experiences, but we’re all looking out for each other.