Don’t Be Afraid, Community Leaders are Failures. But That’s Essential.August 18, 2019
I would like to share a story, a lesson and some skeletons in my community closet.
Community volunteers, leaders and role models are failures and that’s why they are successful in helping this community. For every successful community project there is 100 Failed genuinely helpful community projects that have been attempted. I thought to demonstrate this issue I would share some of what I have done in the community, but also what I have tried but failed to do. Even though I have completed a lot
What have I Done Already?
- Assisted the creation of two PAH’s in Australia.
- Creation of a biennial community research project to help the academic community be more informed about pup play. Including the first ever academic exploration of the trans, straight and female pup play community sub-groups.
- Creation and Curation of PupPlay.Info
- Ran events and doubled the membership of my local PaH over three years.
- Creation of the non-profit group Nerdy Doggo.
- Creation of the Australian Pup and Handler Competition and enshrine from day one that its all genders and sexuality inclusive.
- Creation of a non-profit “Pup and Handler” pride flag
- Ran several regional and national level pride march floats for pups.
What Project Have I Failed at Completing?
- Forming a regional group for oceanic region to promote cross-state cooperation between groups. In a similar way as other regional groups like NW-PAH, Midwest-PAH etc.
- My own pup pack that I was Alpha of. I did not communicate enough with my own pups and it fell apart before I could catch it.
- A national pup camp for Australia called Howlers of The South
- A dedicated digitised archives of our pup play community history.
- A feature length-documentary about pup play community and its diversity, created by the community.
- Failed to successfully help the pup groups that were attempting to form in New Zealand, South Korea and Japan to be self-sufficient (for a variety of reasons) “for now”.
- Fetish resource blog focused of possible adaptations and resources for puppy play.
“No matter how good a person you are. You are evil in someone’s story”Unknown
I have failures, no denying that. But what has come out of those failures? From toxic female community members spreading claims I’m sexist. To toxic members who disapprove of me promoting exclusivity by claiming I’m stealing their steroids (yeah, that one i still find funny) and even death threats to try to get me to shut down my online community work. My old pah even asked me to step down because of my past failed projects outside the pah group.
If you stand up for your rights and the rights of others, you can expect someone to not like you, but that should never be the reason to not help. We are here to help each other and be the better person we want to be and to have a healthier and supportive community that, deep down, we all want.
If I have found to be one of the most challenging lessons over my years of community volunteer work, even before i was part of the pup community. That its your responsibility to take failure as a learning opportunity. not something to shy away from because you’ve labelled it as a failure. I’m human, I’m still learning this but its part of the journey in life after all.
Some Advice To Keep In Mind
- No One Is Infallible. If a community leader says “all my volunteer work has been a success” be careful of what they are failing to mention.
- Toxic people will focus on volunteers’ failures. No one is 100% successful or 100% failures. Toxic people will easily call those who stand out of the crowd attention seeking even if they are standing out to stand up for others. Its easy to them to accuse, and its hard for them to provide proof.
- Have some faith in humanity and humanity will have faith in you.
- Call-out culture only helps if you allow the person to grow and improve.
- If you don’t trust a volunteer because of past failed projects, your ignoring that they are human.
- If someone wants to help and you don’t give a fair-go to help out, you’ll find a lack of volunteers out there. Volunteers talk with their hands by doing things, toxic people talk with their mouths.
- Don’t forget to thank your volunteers. Its easier to complain and spread misinformation and its makes someones day to reach out, take the time to thank them.
- Representation is ESSENTIAL. Think your the only person in your position? If you step out and represent, others will appear out of the woodwork; I can guarantee it. An example of this is when I began the biennial survey, I had maybe five trans pups talking to me about wanting to get involved in the community but felt all alone. As an example I have seen, I created the first academic report about the trans pups and handlers in the community and 35 trans people participated, two years later, the next one had over 150 participated. This kind of representation and exposure has helped more trans people to get involved in their local community with several trans members approaching me with how surprised they are that there is so many and how they feel more included in the community.
Want to Get Involved in the Community?
- Don’t be afraid, we are here for each other. There are lots of groups out there for supporting volunteers and outreach projects for community newcomers.
- Stand together, lean on each other. Why should the community have 50 one-man-band projects to combat mental health issues in the community when we could have 2 projects with a dozen active volunteers. Things happen much faster and better quality as a group. From what I have seen. Want to get involved in a topic your passionate about? consider existing projects out there before trying to stand alone.
- Misinformed Assumptions are poison to everyone’s community work. A lot of people will try to claim “firsts” for their work/group/project without investigation. As an example plenty of people see the community work on this website and want to hinder promoting its work by pretending its some kind of profit-making business without doing research. Also, an amusing assumption is the phrase “i was around before pup play was popular” some people say to denote some kind of “I’m better than you” but when is that? Is that when pup play websites started on the internet in the early 90’s and was the second big jump in community member numbers? Or when pups started appearing regularly at IML and other annual fetish events in the 80’s and was the first big jump in community member numbers. Or after the slump of activity in the community caused by the global financial crisis in ~’07?
- Don’t be afraid to investigate claims yourself. There is always a flip-side to every coin.
- Be a Leader, Not a boss. Be in the thick of it, grassroots and help out even if it appears trivial, that grassroots work is not only essential in the community, but returns tenfold . Don’t be the person who flies into an event first-class to give a workshop, tell people what you do and disregard any difference in opinion and fly out, you may feel important but its your money doing that.
The Number One Advice:
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Involved in The Community,
We Are Here to Help Each Other.