TL:DR; As inflation has gone up, donations have gone down faster. We get it. We totally get it. But now we have medical bills and really need donations so we can work and pay those bills.
Not all experiments are successful.
In our modern era, unfortunately, failure is rarely allowed. I’ve written about this before, and how NASA really codified this idea in their “Failure is not an option” catch phrase.
The thing is, innovation only happens if you take risks and accept that failures are going to happen. In space science and related fields, we are watching SpaceX and RocketLab both blaze (very different) paths forward as they practice iterative design and expect some parts to fail as they test the effectiveness of new ideas and new technologies.
Back in 2013, the Mars Curiosity Rover pioneered a new way of landing that no one was entirely sure would work. This led to the slogan, “Dare mighty things”.
Here at CosmoQuest, we try to dare mighty things as we pioneer new ways to engage people in learning and doing science using internet technologies.
And sometimes, while iterating on what we do, we fail mightily.
The tale of 2 Hangout-a-thons
Last July we tried something new. For our yearly fundraiser, our Hangout-a-thon, we decided to spend 36 hours asking for money while building moon bases in both Lego and Minecraft. We’d all seen fellow streamers raise gobs and gobs of money just doing long streams of joy and games. From early July 15 to late July 16, we streamed joy and Lego and Minecraft… and we learned we are not other streamers as we failed spectacularly to raise needed funds.
So… we’re trying again. Space is hard. Funding space science / education / communications is also hard. It may actually be harder, to be honest.
November 3–5, we’re going to stream for 32 hours (not straight through — we will sleep). We are going back to the standards; we’re going to talk to you, have on guests, play games in the background, and celebrate learning new things for 32 hours. We need to raise $30,000. This is our second chance to make our budgets right.
Want to help us get ahead of the curve? Donate here: https://bit.ly/CQX-FY24
Theme: Second Chances
For these 32 hours, we’re going to look at those rare and wonderful moments in our lives and in science when a second chance has allowed something new and wonderful to occur. Hubble, for instance, was given a second chance with its corrective optics. Kepler was given a new chance to do science with the revised K2 program. The engineers behind the Insight mission gave that little lander chances 2, 3, 12… Over and over, science has found a way to carry on in the face of obstacles, and we are going to celebrate these successes.
We are also going to imagine what could have been if history had run just a bit differently and see what new futures might be possible. The history of science is still being written, and it isn’t too late to undo some of the harms that have been done, and it will never be too late to start celebrating the names that are too rarely spoken.
And along the way, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to imagine the kind of Marsbase we want to see. Not the company store model that some are pushing, or the wealthy man’s frontier town. We are going to create our own home on mars…. In Minecraft… and we invite you to come dream with us as we do. (Signup to be part of the Minecraft build here: https://bit.ly/HAT23-Marscraft)
Where your funding goes
CosmoQuest is part of the Planetary Science Institute. Your tax-deductible (where allowed by law) donations allow our team to produce the award-winning Astronomy Cast, 365 Days of Astronomy, and Escape Velocity Space News. Your funds also support our Daily-ish Space live streams, watch parties, and special events on Twitch.tv. Additionally, we are developing a generic framework for building citizen science projects, a Discord chat bot that can supply everything from weather to rocket info, and a Q&A chat bot that should make life a little easier for all educational streamers.
We turn your funding into free, creative-commons or open source media programs, software programs, and chances to learn and do science.
Why this matters
We don’t like fundraising! If we absolutely did not have to fundraise, we absolutely would not be fundraising. We want to give you science without asking for money.
But in the past year, we’ve seen our Patreon income go down about 40% as inflation has gone up. This means that while we’ve worked to diversify our income (translation — we now have a lot more ads, which we would rather not), the new income (from ads) isn’t enough to make up for what was lost. We’ve cut all costs we could, and now we’re starting to cut things that affect our quality (which makes us sad). Beth voluntarily reduced her hours (she has 2 jobs) and we cut the newsletter. Pamela voluntarily went off benefits (she gets health insurance through her husband). Ally is working the exact minimum number of hours needed to still qualify for health insurance (and she also has multiple jobs).
We want to create high-quality science-related content. We want to focus all our time on giving you our best possible work.
And honestly… we can’t afford to donate time the way we could 6 months ago. Both Pamela and Ally got into a mess healthwise, and while both are mending, the bills are piling up. Pamela’s gallbladder got bored and started acting out. This earned it an ER trip Fourth of July weekend, and she had her gallbladder yeeted the first Monday in October (this is why we’re super last minute arranging this). While Pamela was experiencing the joys of a bored gall bladder taking up geology as a hobby, Ally has continued to struggle with long covid complications that resulted in an emergency MRI and other procedures. Respectively, Pamela and Ally now have out-of-pocket medical bills of $3,700 and $3,100 with yet more bills on the way. There would be a certain lunacy in setting up a GoFundMe so they could pay their bills and keep working part time. We want to work our asses off to earn the money to pay our bills, and we want to do it in the name of science.
Times are tough for everyone. We see that in how our Patreon income has gone down across all our projects. We would work for free if we could, but we can’t… and right now we have some nasty medical bills making it even harder than normal.
Can you give? Can you give us a 2nd chance to earn our living doing science and science communications?