Saying Goodbye

Sometimes even good things come to an end. After 6 years, this is my farewell post on The Causemopolitan.

I’m moving on. I’m so proud of what I’ve built here and the writing. I’ve been honest, I’ve been real, I’ve opened up my own heart in ways I never could have imagined. This is a most heartfelt and bittersweet goodbye.

Everyone on this site - for the time being - will stay live. The Giving Manifesto will stay live. The guide and list of top posts and all of the best ways to surface content on the site will stay live. The newsletter is taking on a new format and theme over on Tiny Letter and will still be sent weekly. The biggest change is that I’m not actively going to be updating the site anymore.

I have delayed writing this post but it is finally time. If I’m (gently) letting go of this very special place on the web that has been my home since 2008, that I want to tell the whole story as a tribute and as a farewell.

I started blogging in 2005. I was working at Bunin-Murray Productions as a online production assistant on The Real World and Road Rules. Bunin-Murray was the production house that made those shows and was almost a rite of passage for newbies in Los Angeles. My boss in the web department, Jason Toney, was the editor of LAist. He showed me what a blog was and then taught me how to blog. I was hooked.

By day, I was editing photos and videos of drunk Real Worlders for the MTV website, and at night and on weekends, I was exploring Los Angeles and writing about it on LAist.

When I left Bunin-Murray to go down the nonprofit path, I kept blogging. This is a very good moment to look back and say “aha!” because it is these worlds - technology and giving back - that would forever be the core of who I am.

Fast forward a few years, I loved writing for LAist. The community of writers, and readers, were loyal, funny and incredibly smart. Some of my best friends to this day are from those years. As I wrote about bands performing at the Troubadour, and art show openings at The Getty, exploring under-rated neighborhoods and the food cart explosion. Separately, I started a Tumblr to post the rest of the “other” things that I liked at the time. It was fun and simple.

I started working more, and more, and I didn’t have time (or rather MAKE TIME) for LAist the way I once had. Traffic had sky-rocketed, in large part due to the newest editor Tony Pierce and later Zach Behrens and the smart writing of several of my friends, but it was still largely a non-paid gig. With a demanding job at a startup for social good, a demanding boyfriend, and a demanding (mostly failed) attempt to also live a fun, healthy, exploratory LA-life, I couldn’t find a way to carve out the time.

And my life had changed. I really was into this notion that giving back was for the masses but was being promoted to the elite. Why did philanthropy have to be old white guys giving big chunks of change to their alma maters? Couldn’t giving back be whatever it meant to the person who was doing it? What if you gave according to what you had the most of? If that was time, you volunteered your time. If you worked at an amazing company and could donate in-kind (product, space, goods) then you did that. If it was about money, and you could afford it, you did that. Maybe you did a mix of all three.

I started talking about this more. I was certain that the key to getting more people to give back was to make it more fun. Show opportunities for how simple it was. Talk about how to find opportunities and how to match those with your career. Take part of the altriusm out of giving and make it something that’s ok to feel good about. To feel period. Giving back should feel good! I had no scientific background but I was sure it gave a physical response, that feeling when your heart swells because you’ve done something good for the world. That’s what I wanted to be a part of - creating that feeling for other people like I had found in myself.

My giving background is something that I’ve always talked about. It’s a core piece of who I am. I’m the one who stopped into the Pittsburgh Children’s Institute one day after school in the 5th grade and asked if I could volunteer there. I’m the one who got on a bus to go to the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force in the 9th grade to ask if there was something I could do to help. I had this inside of me and it was dying for a way to get out.

While there were core causes that I was passionate about I treated causes somewhat agnostically. I believed it was important for my friends and network to find what they cared about and I didn’t want to overly shadow or influence that decision. I wanted to present causes evenly and without bias. Separate from nonprofit news sites and publications, I kept thinking of ways to share all causes and nonprofits in one accessible blog.

In 2007 and 2008, tech and social media were heating up in Los Angeles. I would go out with tech friends to nascent tech events and come home after a few drinks and buy URLs off GoDaddy. One of those was thecausemopolitan.com. I didn’t have anything in particular I thought I would use it for, I just thought of it and had to have it and it was available so I bought it.

By January 2009, I was in a very hard place. The startup I had been working at was gone and with it I had decided to also let go of my apartment and the hardest decision of all - ending a 7-year relationship. I decided it was time to travel, see the world, volunteer, get my hands dirty and find myself again. There were parts of my life that were amazing but there were also parts that were broken and I felt like I needed to spend time by myself to become a better version of myself. The kind of person I aspired to be. I needed to like myself again the way other people liked me. In the hustle of climbing a career ladder I had lost a little bit of that.

As my travels began so The Causemopolitan began. I decided I would blog about my travels, my theories around giving back, opportunities I found for others to give back. It would be my way of sharing my experiences and also let my friends and loved one keep track of me. I could have used my Tumblr, but that was mostly for fun. I wanted a place on the web to call my own under my own domain.

I was in a friend’s Venice beach house when the site went live, when the email went live and when this all began. I left the country a few days later and it was off to the races.

Over the next few years, I couldn’t believe I could love something so much that wasn’t tangible. When people asked me about my blog I would say, “If the Internet is a sea of a million post-it notes, I look at it and I see my one little post-it in a corner of the web and I know that it’s mine.”

As early as 2010 I started to wonder how my blog would mature as I was maturing. I wanted to share more about my life than only giving back. I wanted to share photos of food I cooked, books I read, and travels I had taken. Things were changing in my life and after a year of traveling I found myself first living in New Orleans and then New York City.

I pushed onwards. I thought about monetizing my blog, certainly I had friends who went that route. And to a limited extent I tried to do that. I created a content calendar, I analyzed my Google web traffic to see what posts did best, I started writing guest posts for other blogs and I started to branch out and write about different topics of interest to me. I could put a cause twist on a beauty story. I could write about all of the other industries that were launching products, services and partnerships within corporate social responsibility and social impact. A funny thing happened. It didn’t feel as good to me to cover the cause news broadly. I wanted to have an area of focus.

A lot of my focus has always been on women and girls. It’s something that comes naturally to me. I believe deeply in the power of changing the world through empowering women and girls and giving them access to education and equal opportunities as boys. I dove into this subject area but I also danced around it. There was something missing from this conversation. I still cared deeply about it but there was something more I was trying to get at that I thought could be closer to the core of what would inspire me most.

Food.

One day it hit like a ton of bricks. There is a good chance I never would have come to this place of understanding if my 2014 wasn’t filled with so much personal loss and grieving. In my sorrows came a lot of time alone, time supporting others and a lot of time reflecting about life. I could write a novel about my experiences apprenticing on farm last summer (and I might!) but that time away from the city and spent outdoors doing solitary tasks for hours on end really shifted something in my consciousness. I was reminded of my past from my passion for baking since a young age to the 6 years I spent working in restaurants in college and the years that followed. I thought of how most of my bucket list items have to do with food in one way or the other. It was like a lightbulb had been trying to go for some time.

For the past 6 months, I have looked at the world through a different lens. I started researching opportunities across the food sector. Who was pushing boundaries? What was most interesting and innovative? I seized opportunities to talk about agriculture as it affects people around the world from a local to regional, national and international scale. I attended conferences on farming and sustainable agriculture and access to quality education on food for diverse demographic groups.

I came to believe that food and the rise of the mindfulness movement could work together. I put together the premise for DinnerMode and launched it at INBOUND last fall.

For some reason, I haven’t shared a lot of that here before. Here in this place that I love so much. I had to recognize that. I had to see that for what it was, a natural indication that maybe it was time to move on.

I was faced with a decision. I could rebrand and redesign the site. I’ve certainly done that before and it could happen again. Or I could start fresh.

A singular thought kept coming back to me. What would I do if I was starting fresh and for the first time. What if I had no internet footprint?

The decision was easy. I would start from scratch.

I will forever be The Causemopolitan, but it doesn’t fit where I am right now. Who knows where life leads, what’s around the next bend. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Stay in touch!

Email - hello@sloanedavidson.com

Twitter - @sloane

Newsletter - http://www.tinyletter.com/sloanedavidson

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