All kinds of help wanted

The year ahead is going to be a busy one, and I’m looking to take on a bunch of new opportunities in addition to the things I’ve already got on the go. If I want to do it all well, I won’t be able to do it all alone. So I’m looking for volunteers, promoters, activists, and other awesome people who would like to get involved in at least one of any number of projects, some of which are already on the go and some of which are coming our way in the future.

If you’ve actually been following this blog, then you may remember that back in July I agreed to cut my schedule at work down to part-time. I’m glad to be able to tell you that I’m now back to a forty-hour week, but I’m also fully aware that I’m going to have to take a step back from a few things if I really want them to grow. I’ve never been very good at delegating, and as much as I like to think I’ve come up with a few great ideas in my time, I think a lot of them have suffered to the extent that I’ve insisted on doing the bulk of the work myself. You waste a lot of time and energy when you work like that, and you miss out on the opportunity to work with a lot of energetic, enthusiastic and imaginative people. Once you’ve finally acknowledged that, you wonder why it took you so long to do so.

One of the great ideas that I’m most glad to be a part of is Strong Words, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary in June. The crew behind the series has changed time and again over the years; Kate Carraway and I founded the series, she passed her role on to Moez Surani, he in turn handed it off to Devon Code and Spencer Butt, and on Thursday they officially passed the torch to Gillian Savigny and Malcolm Sutton. I assure you that I’m not being modest when I say that each of those these people knows more about the local literary scene than I do, and yet I’ve been the only constant member of the team.

That’s going to change after the fifth anniversary. I’d be glad to stay on as the host if Gillian and Malcolm will have me, but otherwise I’m happy to leave the series in their more than capable hands. They’ve got some great new ideas and a new perspective, and that’s exactly what any reading series needs after five years in action.

Aside from hosting the series, my one major contribution to Strong Words has been to promote it. But if there’s one thing I’ve had to learn the hard way during a decade of putting far too many shows together, it’s that I’m not the world’s best promoter. I usually get the job done, but it often feels like an uneasy chore, and I think that’s because I’m basically far too introverted to do the job properly. Sure, I can yell and scream about something I believe in like I’ve got no shame – as I’m sure anyone who’s ever had to suffer through one of my long and possibly half-drunk tirades at Strong Words will tell you. But I’ve never gotten the hang of talking about myself or something I’ve done with the same enthusiasm. And if I haven’t done it by now, then it’s probably safe to say I never will, and I’d be better off focusing on the things I’m genuinely pretty good at.

So with all of that introspective nonsense out of the way, here’s what I’m after:

Everyone’s a DJ needs a little help to grow. I’d like it to get bigger, both within Toronto and beyond, but I’d also like my own role to get a lot smaller. I’m proud to say that a couple of hundred people have spun at this night so far, and many more have come to enjoy it. If you’re one of them, then I hope that you’ll want to play a part in the expansion of the series, and if that’s the case, I hope to hear from you.

Payday had some trouble getting off the ground, due to the fact that it launched at the wrong time in a venue that was much too big for it. But the one thing everyone could agree on was that the music was great. So as God is my witness, we’re going to bring that family of DJs back to the clubs by the summer. If you’re a promoter looking to flex some muscle, a DJ proficient in funk and soul, or even just someone who knows of a small club that would be ideal to relaunch such a thing, then let me know.

Babylon Telecom needs a great many people to come aboard this year. I’m told they’ll be launching a job posting page in the spring, but given the way they’ve been neglecting their website so far, I wouldn’t want to make any promises on their behalf. Either way, whatever your creative discipline, there’s bound to be a chance to put it to use, and if you drop me a line I’ll be glad to get back in touch with details.

Beyond the regular club nights, I’m always happy to spin wherever I’m able, and I could definitely stand to bring someone one board to handle the booking and promotion in exchange for a suitable cut. If you’re one of those budding promoters who’s looking for a DJ who will be their ticket to huge awful clubs with VIP rooms, ladies nights and bottle service, then I’m afraid I’m not that DJ. Anyone who’s actually heard of me already knows that, and I’m sure it’s one of a number of reasons why I’m virtually anonymous to this day. But if you feel like signing on to manage or promote a DJ who’s pretty great at playing to a wide range of audiences despite his increasing age and an occasional penchant for industrial music, give me a shout. See what I mean about my total inability to promote myself?

In additon to all of the above, I’ve got pipe dreams of kicking off a web-based nonprofit project or two within the next year, and the first step is going to be to build a community around it. If you want to be among the first to know about whatever might happen, or you know of anyone out there who might, then I do hope you’ll drop a line.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. There’s a lot stuff hanging in the air right now that could become truly great if people who are more energetic, adventurous and innovative than I am were to decide that they’re willing to take the reins. If nothing else, I know that my circle of friends is full of such people. I invite you all to get in touch if you want to get involved, and I humbly ask you to forward, repost and retweet this announcement if you know of someone else who might want to get in on the action. Thank you!

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