This afternoon was the reinstatement meeting for Everyday Anthropology. In all honesty, I do not think there has ever been more excitement felt for a board meeting than I felt for this one. I had some notes for what I wanted to cover, and I had some rough ideas for direction. The bar I had set, which was realistically the most I was hoping for, was that we’d all meet, get through it, and the legally required minimum for a board would be formed, plus one for good measure.
As most readers of this website and followers of Anthrospin on social media are likely aware, the mission of Everyday Anthropology is to build a platform for awesome content within the vast spectrum of anthropology, while providing funding to help offset the cost of first field experiences for undergraduates in anthropology. It isn’t cheap. I’ve been there, and it’s so hard to pull off.
While the board picked consisted of friends (in addition to myself and my wife, Julie, who has been a director and board secretary since our incorporation) I didn’t realize that it was actually the board I needed. The two new directors are Robert Winn and Sarah Hlubik. Rob is someone I’ve known for years from cycling groups and he’s helped out with some behind the scenes advice while we were planning for Pedal for Pongo. Turns out he can write grants.
Sarah is a Koobi Fora Field School faculty member. We met way back in the simpler times of 2013. We’d more or less kept in touch since, and we met in person in 2019 when we stopped at Rutgers University during Pedal for Pongo. I remembered her having some fund raising experience and thought she may be able to shed some insight as a board member.
You may remember the Anthrospin of the immediately pre-COVID era. There were regular talks and screenings of Rhode Island’s Industrial Revolution. Usually two or three monthly, each screening tended to get at least one, but usually two more booked. It was the beginning’s of Anthrospin building an operating budget and being able to focus on the mission.
COVID changed that. It stopped Rhode Island’s Industrial Revolution in its tracks, and stopped Pedal for Pongo from ever really getting the traction and attention it deserved. Reinventing my approach, I found avenues for serious remote research into cast iron and published the Cast Iron Field Guide in June, 2022.
That book was far and away the biggest financial investment in any Anthrospin-related production I’ve ever undertaken. I then shipped my collection to Germany and back, which arguably added several more thousands of dollars to the overhead. But as with all of my Anthrospin projects, the approach has been that I invest my money and time, and am reimbursed for the monetary investment, and then going forward, the money brought in from the projects goes to Anthrospin. I’m happy to say that the fairly enormous investment in writing the Field Guide has been paid back, and starting April, 2023, 100% of the royalties from the book will be going to Everyday Anthropology to start building the operating budget for 2024 (and realistically probably a bit of 2023).
So it’s been looking more and more like Everyday Anthropology could realistically have an “operating budget,” which was realistically probably going to be paying imaging fees and for access to research collections, and then also for some stipends and internships.
That changed today.
It turns out that Rob can write grants. And it turns out that not only can Sarah…she taught grant writing at Rutgers and can potentially connect Everyday Anthropology to a student base to find and write grants to help fund our mission. IN ADDITION TO THAT, as a Koobi Fora faculty member, she was curious about the potential to expand Everyday Anthropology’s mission to be beyond local interns, and possibly help African students get their first field experience.
As someone who had wanted to do nothing other than be a paleoanthropologist for the majority of their life, the notion that my career could help who knows how many talented researchers get the most amazing first field experience possible…that is the most impactful contribution I can possibly make to the field of paleoanthropology. I’m still processing the potential there.
So, in essence, I went into this meeting hoping for the bare minimum legal requirement and hoping to train myself in nonprofit administration over the rest of the year and get a clearer picture of how to make the platform I’ve built over the last several years into something with the potential it always had the potential to have.
I came out of it with a clear direction, a team with decades experience in my weakest skill set, and a genuine understanding that Anthrospin will have a lot to offer to a lot of people. And, I’ll be making the kind of contribution to my field that I’d always hoped to be able to.
Our next board meeting will be held the first week of August. The date will be announced mid-way through July. By then, there will be a clear idea of operating budget, a path to making me a part time/eventually full time employee, a list of potential funders, ideas for programming, and honestly hopefully several thousand dollars in the bank account to be able to start paying local anthropology students stipends for volunteering their time here.
Through the rest of this year, I’ll be working on completing my current book, Lost & Foundry, while also working on marketing programming for Rhode Island’s Industrial Revolution, Pedal for Pongo, and the Cast Iron field Guide.
Realistically it’s time to start thinking of searching for volunteers who are good at some of the things I’m not (like web design and general platform maintenance). But for now I’ve gotta go work on my nonprofit administration course.