Let’s follow breadcrumbs together…

I don’t have many intentional daily practices (I’m far too stubborn and independent for useful life choices like intentional daily practices) but the closest I get is following breadcrumbs that life kindly, mischievously, and mysteriously seems to lay out before me. So far they haven’t led me to an evil witch in the woods (but I’m still hoping).

Breadcrumbs often don’t feel or look like breadcrumbs at the time - just an interesting musing, a sentence that catches my attention and my heart, a book or author that lands in my lap, a message from a potential new client or project, or a new LinkedIn contact - but when I turn my gaze to where I’ve been, there’s a gentle and loving pathway I’ve been following.

I hope that this Substack will shape itself into breadcrumbs for both of us.

About me

I’m Anna-Marie. I used to shorten my name to Anna but I have since reclaimed its fullness. People often mis-read, mis-pronounce, and mis-spell my name as Anne-Marie but each time that happens a kitten dies; so, up to you.

I am in deep love and fascination with what's needed to found and steward embodied, relational-led organisations and communities that distribute leadership and decision-making so they can grow strong roots internally and in line with the needs of their communities; self- and shared-enquiry; embodied facilitation; and ‘what’s alive here?’ as a practice to disrupt unhealthy patterns and alchemise healthy ones, and as a route into reconciliation and repair. Here in Substack I’ll be following these topics where they will.

I am a trained in Sociocracy 3.0, a partner in a Holacracy-governed organisation, and a freelance consultant and facilitator.

My perspectives and experiences are moulded by over twenty-five years of scraggy and inconvenient health issues that often bring my gaze to my inner experiences and responses with laser focus. Over time this has brought me a relationship with life that is private, intimate, queer, intense, and utterly important. My perspectives are also influenced by the middle space I now situate as a woman that’s no longer a young adult but not yet an elder, my white skin and middle-class upbringing in England, and chocolate; less chocolate than I'd like and more chocolate than I probably deserve.

You can find out more about my current and past focuses, along with potential breadcrumbs that might tug at your sleeve, on my website and on my LinkedIn page.

My Substack Subscription Options

Inspired by and drawn to the generosity and right relationship that Charles Eisenstein embodies (his Substack and his site), this Substack’s contents are the same to free and paid subscribers.

If you enjoy this content for free and it helps you find kind, mischievous, and tempting breadcrumbs, then you’ve made my day.

If you decide to pay, here’s why I offer a paid subscription option: if I could find a way, I would not be a participant in many of the current dominant systems: from financial systems to political systems. Instead, I would give away all my time and my care and my attention for free and trust life enough to be fully supported through gift economy.
However, I do not currently have that trust and some of my needs feel too urgent to not be met, especially those related to my health issues: from limited capacity to work extensive hours to fears about my long-term security, as well as the financial costs of supporting myself.

An Experiment in Financial Right Relationship

For a long time I’ve been wondering how I might meet my needs in a way that doesn’t make life so tough I cannot usefully participate, and at the same time aligns me with life in a way that feels closer to right relationship. These wonderings have led me to instigate the experiment I share here, which the paid Substack option is a key element of:

1. A base income through Something Bird Ltd.
This comes through my work as a partner at Nestr and as a freelance consultant and facilitator through Open Facilitation, a collective of freelancers that I am a founding member of. Something Bird Ltd is registered in the UK and I am the sole director.

This income covers my core needs - and sometimes a little more. It also enables me to give more of my energy to things such as facilitating free workshops and writing a free Substack that wouldn’t be available to me if I couldn’t afford the supplements or specialised support for my health issues, or was worried about where and how I was going to pay rent, buy food, and pay bills.

2. Financial gifts through the Seaspray Collective.
I’ve set up avenues to collect financial gifts and subscriptions (such as the paid subscription option for this Substack). These funds will go directly into the Seaspray Collective, a non-profit collective situated on a fully-transparent fiscal host. The use of these funds are designated directly to communities and groups that would like to access the services I offer, because these services would support their work and communities, but cannot afford them. These are the groups I’d often most like to work with but, right now, often cannot afford to.

The criteria for Seaspray clients are:

  • Groups and communities devoiced and most harmed by our dominant global systems, groups and communities that wouldn’t normally have access to consultant and facilitation services or the kind of embodied information and knowledge I have been privileged to have been able to study, explore, and practice.

  • Non-profit Groups, communities, and organisations committed to creating and nurturing community-led, stewardship-based systems and structures, whether local or regional, such as applying Eleanor Ostrom’s principles for managing organisations and communities as a Commons, Doughnut Economics, or community building and activism. These groups, communities, and organisations will have to have fair and transparent finances so that I can best try to ensure that these donations and subscriptions are utilised as they should be.

How this works:
1. I will allocate my time to the above clients at the hourly rate set by The Living Wage Foundation. At this time of writing, the hourly living rate outside of London in the UK is 10.90 GBP per hour. For example, if a client through Seaspray wants 10 hours of consultation and facilitation, then my invoice to Seaspray would be 10 hours x 10.90 GBP = 109.00 GBP total.

2. I will add to the invoice any basic travel and accommodation costs, such as third-class train tickets, coach tickets, bus tickets, or (if necessary) flying coach, along with a simple food and drink allocation. I will try to minimise travel and accommodation but working in person in a group can make a really big difference compared to being on Zoom.

All money generated through donations and subscriptions will be made fully traceable via the Seaspray Collective’s Open Collective account and three-monthly updates here on Substack, showing:

  • The client.

  • The rate of the services offered (i.e. 10 hours x 10.90 GBP), and any expenses.

  • The activities of the time allocated (i.e. 4 hours allocated to organising and facilitating key meeting for the members of the Hub to decide next steps, along with 6 hours post-meeting reconciliation and repair facilitation).

In summary, gifts and subscriptions via Seaspray will be utilised as follows:

  • Clients that cannot afford my services will get my services at no direct cost to them.

  • I will receive the current non-London living wage per hour and have basic travel, food, and accommodation costs covered (invoiced from me to the Seaspray Open Collective account).

  • You can, at any time, see the accounts by going to Seaspray’s Open Collective page, and I’ll post three-monthly updates about clients served, donations and gifts raised, and how they’ve been allocated to clients, that will include reflections and adjustments as I learn from this experiment.

I’ve written a much more detailed explanation of this experiment in income here in my first blog post, to answer the questions that I would have. It shares much more information about utilising a fiscal host, how I arrive at a fee with Something Bird Ltd clients that makes us both feel in right relationship, and the other avenues I’m setting up for Seaspray gifting, such as Patreon.

Warmest wishes,

Subscribe to Anna-Marie Swan

Meanderings into humane, relational-led, rooted organisations and communities; embodied facilitation; stewardship and commons; self- and shared-enquiry; and 'what's alive here?' as a route into organisational and community reconciliation and repair.


Anna-Marie Swan
In deep love and fascination with what's needed to found and steward embodied, relational-led organisations and communities, self- and shared-enquiry, embodied facilitation, and exploring ‘what’s alive here?’