Coming Closer to Financial Right Relationship
An Experiment of Two Halves
Thank you for reading my first Substack post. If you continue reading my posts, we’ll be doing one of my favourite things: weaving a new constellation together: you and I, in relationship, and discovering what’s alive here.
I believe that in every new constellation we form, that constellation holds all our other constellations each of us is a member of. Through this constellation weaving, we get to world generatively, as inspired by Bayo Akomolafe, one of my favourite teachers, in ‘These Wilds Beyond Our Fences’:
‘There are no beginnings that appear unperturbed, pristine and without hauntings. And there are no endings that are devoid of traces of the new, spontaneous departures from disclosure, and simmering events that are yet to happen. The middle isn’t the space between things; it is the world in its ongoing practices of worlding itself’.
I look forward to worlding a new constellation with you.
Coming Closer to Financial Right Relationship
This post was intended to introduce myself and my perspectives but as I wrote it I found that it was becoming a contract with my collaborators, my clients, and with life itself. Writing it has been medicine, as the shape of this post and the contract it contains materialised and clarified. Between the first word and the last, it holds an enquiry on right relationship, wrong relationship, and how we might bring ourselves closer to the first and further from the second.
My enquiry feels deeply personal but I hear from those I’ve shared this post with as part of the shaping process that my enquiry holds within it something more universal. I do know that I am not alone in questioning how to live a life in grace, in kindness, in right relationship - especially financial right relationship - and I notice curiosity about whether it will land for you, my new reader, as complicated, ungrounded, confusing; reasonable, possible, and exciting; or perhaps even spark a new pathway for you, too, to explore.
I don’t know where I first met the term right relationship - where we met each other - but it must have sunk itself into my bones because it’s how I navigate everything. It is the inner prompt that guides my decisions and against which I adjust my responses, perspectives, and direction.
For those of you that haven’t yet been introduced, right relationship, as I hold it, is beautifully described here:
I think I fell in love with right relationship so deeply because of its wholeness; that it holds as sacred both our inner world and our outer world; not as dualistic, but of two halves, paired, in-relationship, the one affecting the other and the other being affected by it in return. Through right relationship, my gut instincts, my body, and my feelings are my signals, my faithful compass. I know I am out of right relationship through how I feel in my body, in my heart; in the same way, my body directs me back towards right relationship.
A Cellular Rearrangement
For the last few months, I’ve been in an intense flare-up of health issues I’ve navigated for over twenty-five years. Over the winter months, I’ve withdrawn from work and most outward focuses, drawing into my inner world with sharp focus, barely leaving the house and in quite some pain.
As much as I reject these flare-ups with every cell in my body, I find that during such times my perspectives, beliefs, past experiences, and current relationships are alchemising into new perspectives, possibilities, and relationships, rearranging the very cells that scream out in protest when these flair-ups come to visit.
When it comes to living my life as a participant in dominant global systems, I often feel in wrong relationship. I am daily aware of the ways my life impacts individuals and communities I can see and those I can’t, the ecosystems we rely on and are nurtured by, and the planet that so generously offers us solid ground to walk to. During this recent flare-up, I found myself in deep dialogue with financial right relationship, the ways I am more in wrong relationship than right, and how money and security impacts who I get to work with and the relationship I have with my clients and colleagues.
Every option I could envision to right myself meant choosing a life that was too physically, emotionally, and financially tough for someone with complex and costly health issues or which I didn’t have entry into, such as living outside of our current systems entirely or offering my time for free and hoping that life would cover my needs, or meant making choices that felt wrong, such as working for clients that I see are causing harm or are recreating our dominant systems, taking advantage of all the privileges I have been fortunate enough to have received, or even Robin Hooding: intentionally charging larger fees to clients that are causing harm or recreating our dominant systems so that I can afford to work for free for the clients that aren’t.
The experiment I am now entering, which this Substack (at least, the paid version) is a key aspect of, seems to offer a path that navigates a new financial relationship, one that will hopefully cover core needs, enable me to do the work I am deeply in love with with the individuals and projects I am drawn to, and carry me closer to right relationship.
It’s an experiment of two halves: paired, in-relationship, each half affecting the other; just as right relationship has.
An Experiment of Two Halves
1. Something Bird Income
I am currently the only Director of Something Bird Ltd in the UK, where all my freelance and project-related income lands, such as my freelance consulting and facilitation through Open Facilitation, which I am a founding member of, and as a partner at Nestr.
Something Bird income helps me meet my needs and helps me create a living environment that I find joyful, sustainable, and nurturing. It also enables me to offer my time to freely share the insights and lessons I gain doing work I love, such as hosting free workshops and writing this free Substack for whoever’s interested. The amount of income through Something Bird is a conversation with each client and partner, adult-to-adult conversations about value, need, and financial ability on both sides; and the intention is to arrive at an exchange that leaves us all feeling in right relationship.
You will find Something Bird Ltd company details here on the Companies House site and you can read about my work on my website, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
2. Seaspray Collective
The second half of my financial experiment is creating avenues for gifts and subscriptions (such as the paid subscription option here on Substack) into the Seaspray Collective, a non-profit collective situated on a fully-transparent fiscal host.
Seaspray’s clients will be groups and organisations that would like to access the services I offer, because these services would support their work and communities, but cannot afford them. These are also the groups I’d often most like to work with but, right now, often cannot afford to.
Seaspray clients will be:
Groups and communities devoiced and most harmed by our dominant global systems, the kind of 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.
An exchange based on the UK living wage
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. So, if a client through Seaspray wanted 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.
(Considering the cost of living crisis in the UK and the decisions being made by the ruling political party, I cannot imagine that anyone can survive outside of London on 10.90 GBP per hour. I certainly couldn’t if my entire income was at that rate. The fact is that many people earn less than that, since the minimum wage in the UK is lower. When I was pondering what felt like the right way to do this allocation (no funds at all? If I set a price, what price an hour feels right?), looking to the current living wage felt like the best starting point. It gives me enough to ensure that I can allocate a percentage of my work-focused capacity to client work in this way, since my overall capacity to earn is limited by my health issues, but isn’t just plucking a number out of nowhere.)
All money generated through donations and subscriptions will be made fully traceable: who benefits from it, the rate of the services offered, and the activities of the time allocated.
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 for my work with these clients, along with any necessary basic travel, food, and accommodation costs (invoiced from Something Bird to the Seaspray Open Collective account).
- Anyone can, at any time, see the accounts by going to Seaspray’s Open Collective page. I’ll also post three-monthly updates here on Substack (and for my patrons) about subscriptions and gifts raised and how they’ve been allocated to clients, as well as reflections and adjustments as I learn from this experiment.
I imagine that if, in the future, my Something Bird income covers more than meeting my needs and creating a living environment that I find joyful and sustainable and nurturing (or a long lost relative I’ve never met who lived a happy life and died joyfully in their sleep leaves me a large inheritance), I will shut down the gifts and subscriptions that form the second half of this financial experiment or not utilise them myself, and instead increase the amount of my time I give for free to include the client work that the gifts and subscriptions are intended to enable.
A fully transparent fiscal host
A fiscal host is a way for community groups, grassroots movements, or non-profits to utilise the banking system without creating their own legal entity or opening their own bank account. I have chosen to open an account with All for Climate because it’s based in the EU, it has lower fees than the other hosts I know of (at 3%), and because one of its founders, Leen Schelfhout, is a very close friend and partner in Open Facilitation. I trust her implicitly: her motivations, her actions, and her perspectives. And, importantly, she keeps answering my questions as I navigate utilising a fiscal host for the first time with (seemingly) never-ending patience.
Through All For Climate, Seaspray Collective gets access to a bank account and office records. All For Climate then creates an account for me on the fully transparent Open Collective, a fundraising and legal status and money management platform. Head to Seaspray’s Open Collective page here to view all transactions, along with who is acting as our admins to ensure best practice.
I was going to set up an Open Collective account in my name but when I talked it through with Leen she thought that others might want to offer their time this way too, so I have set it up as a collective so it’s ready for that growth, if that happens. If trusted colleagues are inspired to join Seaspray, we’ll have to clarify the Seaspray Collective agreements to ensure best practice in choosing clients to work with and to work with each member’s living wage (I’m sure it’s different in the UK than in Belgium, for example). Changes like this will be available to see on Open Collective and will be shared via Substack.
Sources of gifts and subscriptions:
Substack paid subscription option
Gifts directly into Open Collective
Gifts via Seaspray’s crypto wallet: 0x915f6bfd244c245be0c100E0f3ae6Fe4D7b888DF
Two Halves, Worlding
As I write this article, it lands as right that just as right relationship is of two halves, worlding each other, my financial income will be of two halves, worlding each other. I’m curious to see how this experiment unfolds, and whether it will shorten the gap between where I am in right relationship and wrong relationship. I’m curious to see if it will open up new pathways and opportunities I cannot see, or whether along the way I’ll stumble into hidden fissures or meet dangerous animals.
Thank you. For witnessing this contract, for giving me your attention when there are so many things that tug at our attention insistently and consistently, and for weaving a new constellation with me: you and I, in relationship, discovering what’s alive here.
Thank you so much for reading my articles on Substack. Please feel free to share.
Free and paid subscribers receive the same Substack content but if you feel excited and financially able to support the Seaspray Collective through a paid Substack subscription that is very much appreciated. Paid subscriptions enable me to work with groups and organisations that are disadvantaged and devoiced by our current dominant systems and that cannot afford to work with an external facilitator and consultant at no cost to them. You can read more about the Seaspray Collective here.