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EDITORIAL: Upending Conventional Wisdom


by Nat Frothingham

According to conventional wisdom — it’s not a good idea to seek financial help for any cause, organization or project —however worthy — in January or February.

You wouldn’t want to ask anyone for help after the gift-giving and partying of the December holiday season. Nor would you appeal for help in the coldest months of the year when people are paying — and some people are struggling to pay — their heating bills.

These forbidding thoughts crossed and re-crossed my mind this past Janaury after I had taken a hard look at the paper’s financial numbers.

Just when our situation looked very bleak, at least three good things began to happen.

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First, I reached out to a small group of friends who agreed to meet on an ad hoc basis to help me think through the financial and organizational issues facing The Bridge.

Here let me acknowledge the friends who met with me beginning in January:

Phil Dodd, a founder of The Bridge in 1993. Also Wavell Cowan, Donny Osman and Larry Floersch.

The second big thing we did was to change the paper’s organizational structure from a private business to a not-for-profit organization. In making that change, we had the generous help of Montpelier attorney Paul Gillies.

The third thing we did was to write a letter and invite the financial help of people who were already friends of the paper.

Just as that letter was going out, I was sitting in my office when I heard the voice of Carla Occaso, our managing editor, who works in an office across the hall.  “Would it be OK for The Bridge to attempt a Kickstarter campaign?” Carla asked. I couldn’t think of any reason not to try something that might work.  So I said, “Yes, sure — let’s try it.”

Carla led the Kickstarter campaign. As she set it up, we had 30 days to raise $10,000 and if we didn’t raise that amount in 30 days we would lose any money that had been already pledged.

Soon enough the campaign was gaining a little traction. That traction really took hold when we added cupcakes on the rewards list. And it heated up even more when New England Culinary Institute agreed to provide the cupcakes. Then, Prof. Jeremy Hansen, Margaret Blanchard and Joyce Kahn volunteered their time to provide services. Then it began to attract notice. Then I went on air at couple of local radio station. Then we sent email messages to friends. In the final week of the campaign, we crossed the $5,000 mark and began to experience what can only be described as momentum.  And even before the 30-day period expired we were up to and over the $10,000 goal — a breathtaking surprise.

The money we raised from the Kickstarter campaign will enable us to pay our printing bills this spring.  That money has also given us something else — precious time. Time to create a not-for-profit organization, meet with a new board of directors and time upcoming meetings to map out a plan for the future.

To everyone who has helped us with contributions that have enabled us to go forward, please accept my deep and sincere thanks.  I can’t express that enough.