It’s Membership Drive time here at FDL. Ryan Cook has all the details. Membership here is about building community, as this is not a one-way megaphone but a two-way channel that fosters greater engagement and activism.

I want to share briefly an example of community-building from a time well before I even joined the team here at FDL. In a past life I was a freelancer in the TV and film industry, politically aware but unconnected to any official channels. I started a Blogspot blog (don’t laugh, FDL started on the Blogger platform too) largely as a writing exercise, just to fill in the gaps between down time and to shout out my personal voice into the void of the Internets. In those Wild West days of the early blogosphere, you were never exactly sure if that voice was being heard, really by anyone. But as the years progressed I gradually got a bit more recognition here and there.

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I decided I’d try to do a pledge drive, just to test the waters. If enough people liked what I did and felt it had value, maybe I could ease up on the freelance work, and dedicate a little more time to it. Maybe I’d even get someone to design the site so it looked better than the Blogger template.

One of the first donations I ever got in that initial pledge drive came from Jane Hamsher. I don’t know that we had even met at that point. I knew who she was, and I’m sure I had left a few comments over at FDL, which had taken off by then. The point is that she made me feel like a part of a community even then, before I even got here. That was a different community at that time, the community of citizen journalists and activists working outside the traditional media, trying to make a difference in what small way they could. And it endures to this day.

I didn’t make a whole lot of money on that pledge drive. But Jane and the others let me know my work had value, and encouraged me to keep going. More important, they let me know I was part of something bigger than myself.

I didn’t have a swag factory or the ability to do much else than write back emails to everyone who donated thanking them personally. Here at FDL, you get a much better deal for your membership. Join here for $5/month or $45/year and take advantage of the different benefits on offer. But the biggest benefit is what you can find by reaching out, the like-minded people you can discover and work together with. It’s about building that bigger community.

Become part of our “bigger community” by joining Firedoglake.