Seven years ago, defying common sense and rationality, I abandoned my comfort zone and willfully walked away from everything I knew how to do. I had been constructing an alternative reality in my head for several months and the time had come to build it, in the real world.
I wanted to create a public space; a platform for creative expression, an incubator for emerging talent, and a community space for dialogue. I had all these grandiose ideas and unhealthy levels of naiveté and adrenaline. One room on the second floor of a filthy, nondescript office building was all I could manage with funds from family and fools, multiple credit cards, and a smattering of pixie dust.
Seven years later, the platform has been built. T2F is real. However, the path to living the dream, while rewarding beyond measure, has been one of extreme financial adversity. Like well designed software that protects its users from what goes on behind the scenes, it is our job to deliver a seamless user experience. Committed to that ideal, I have never really spoken about the operating system that powers the platform because I was shy and the timing never felt right.
Since 2007, we have delivered a steady stream of liberal arts programming without fuss and fanfare. We have enabled the creative fantasies of umpteen artists, actors, musicians, comedians, poets, and writers. We have been generous with our space and our time. We have remained fiercely independent.
We have come a long way, quietly. However, our operating system is now in dire need of maintenance and a massive upgrade. The easy way out is to fire a few people, switch off the air-conditioners, stop paying taxes, raise prices, ticket everything, and put an end to the honor code. An even easier way out would be to succumb to the lure of the almighty dollar. But the easy way out spells S.E.L.L.O.U.T.
So, we are reaching out to you, the community that powers T2F, to come together and help us with this year’s operating system maintenance and upgrades. If a lot of people contribute just a little, we can keep the dream alive and we are confident that we will get by with a little help from our friends.
PS: We are immensely thankful to everyone who has supported us over the years; in cash, in kind, and by simply showing up. To the Open Society Foundations, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude for believing in our vision and work and for saving us from at least two near death experiences.