Lately, I've watched one Organizer struggle to build a Pagan Community Center in her town. She is using her own money, time and resources to do this. She is willing to take a 5 year lease on a building that cost $5,000 a month to rent. She hired a lawyer to help her work with the city (which is wary and suspicious of her intent, to say that least). She will offer teaching space and ritual space and a place where out people can connect and learn from one another. She will not take a salery, either. And in order to fund this Pagan Community Center (a thing which Pagan teachers, writers, ritual organizers and individuals out here have always wished for and claimed they needed) she has asked that the Pagan community purchase a center membership on a reasonable and sliding scale to help cover the costs. And you know what's happening? While she works to build this, certain others in the Pagan community mutter on snidely behind her back, saying things "How dare she charge for membership?" and making nasty remarks about a "Pagan County Club".
If this isn't your thing, fine, but don't tear her down for trying to do something good. And don't try and make this about money. I know what our people spend on CD's and shiny things, so I'm not impressed by cries of poverty. No, this is horseshit of a different color.
This Lady has means, yes, but she isn't rich. She could spend this money on herself. She could be sunning at a villa in Tuscany, right now, instead of fighting city hall. But she is trying to build something for her Pagan community (where she has studied, worked and taught for years), and she is using her own funds to do it. If she is willing to build it, and she is doing it with good intent, why aren't we willing to help maintain and support it?
How do these Pagans think things are created in the mundane world? Who pays for them? Fairies? Good grief! The YMCA charges for membership. Churches pass the collection plate. Museums charge a slight admission and parks and schools are paid for out of our taxes. Even Pagan Circles ask for donations to help cover costs nowadays.
Sorry. My bad. Wrong question. The truth is that some Pagans don't think at all. These particular types just mutter and moan and do nothing themselves. The right question is this: How can we build anything at all with types like this? The answer is that we can't. There are always going to be those who build and those who tear down. Every day, we choose which kind of person we'll be. This woman has chosen to be a Builder and I admire her for that. And I am putting her in touch with other Builders so she can realize her dream.
It's a Bookstore Not a Bar! (And Even Bars have a Cover Charge)
She has a tough road ahead of her. Many Pagans use independent bookstores as local community centers. (And then, sadly, they buy their books from Amazon.com. And they wonder why these bookstores close) All too often Pagans lounge around these places for free, waste the staff's time, expect (and get) free counseling above and beyond what is right and fair. Many don't think to support that classes and other events offered at these places. Folks, if you are going to chat in the store, at least buy a candle or three. Honestly! (1)
(1) I should point out that this Lady is not competing with these (few, remaining)independent stores. In fact, she wants to work with them. After all, she used to own a metaphysical bookstore herself, and she loves them dearly.