As we head toward Hutchmoot: Homebound and the rundown/roundup/hoedown/low-downs are sent out, you may notice some messages to our Rabbit Room members. For folks seeing those messages and wondering what this whole membership thing is about, I’d like to take a moment to tell you what it means to us. After all, there are gym memberships and club memberships—the term can come with a whole host of assumptions or misunderstandings, and it’s often associated with some sort of exclusive access you can buy your way into. But at the Rabbit Room, we approach things with a different spirit. We chose the term “membership” intentionally back in 2013, and I want to take a moment to expound on what it means to be a Rabbit Room member.
When we say membership, we mean it in the Wendell Berry sense. In The Wild Birds, Burley Coulter says, “The way we are, we are members of each other. All of us. Everything.” Membership is about coming together as a community in common belonging and purpose. Rabbit Room members are those who believe in the importance of the mission here and have committed to sharing in the responsibility for the well-being of this work, this place, and this people.
Membership makes it possible for us to offer free and affordable works to the community. As always, we want to approach community from a Kingdom-centered mindset, and members are both beneficiaries of and partners in that.Shigé Clark
This last year and a half, more than ever, have borne out the difference that membership makes. Because of our members, during a time of economic upheaval when other organizations have had to pull inward and batten down the hatches, the Rabbit Room has been able to turn and support artists, musicians, and ministers in need. Members create a foundation of support that the Rabbit Room can rely on to build programs and put new works into the world, and they help speak into that work. The Hutchmoots, the Molehills, the podcasts, the Local Shows, the book releases, (the secret projects)—all are possible due to the faithful involvement of a group of people who’ve decided that they have a place at the Rabbit Room in a deep and lasting sense. As Matt McCullough said in a blog post about the book Jayber Crow, to belong to a community is “to be implicated substantively, not just sympathetically, in the ups and downs of a place and its people.”
This means that members join in stewarding the mission and are included in the ongoing vision. In that substantive sense, they share in the work by giving a recurring monthly donation of $25 or more, and we have updates and conversations on current happenings, as well as upcoming goals and projects we’re dreaming about together. We strive to embody that Berry-esque sense of mutual service toward each other. We want to live out membership from a place of gratitude, so we send quarterly gifts to our members to thank them for being a part of the work. Yet, it’s important to us that membership be inclusive. So, aside from the mug, there are no programs, products, or services offered that you can only get as a member
At the end of the day, members are joining the Rabbit Room in a work of service. The support, prayer, and input they provide not only go toward the creation of new and wonderful things; they also enable us to operate from a place of generosity. We can offer free and affordable works to the community—like North Wind Manor events, the Podcast Network, and the Local Show—while putting donations toward new works and supporting artists and those in ministry. As always, we want to approach community from a Kingdom-centered mindset, and members are both beneficiaries of and partners in that.
If this sounds like you, consider joining us in that service! If the Rabbit Room mission is your mission, if this has been a community that has blessed and bolstered you, if you love the work God is doing here and want to see it continued, if you’ve found your sense of place here, then know that this is for you. We have new dreams on the horizon, and we need our members to help us achieve them. Our goal is to reach 100% operational stability through membership—to get to a place where we as a membership (yep, that’s me too) cover all the administrative needs that keep the Rabbit Room running, so that every donation can go directly to the programs, services, and creative works that make up our mission. We believe what God is doing here through story, music, and art is vital, and we want you to be a part of it all!
And to all those who are already participants in the membership of the Rabbit Room, thank you. It’s one of my greatest joys to get to see your faces at events or at our zoom gatherings, and I can’t wait until I can start seeing you more in person again. We’re glad and grateful to be doing this together, and I look forward to all of the cheeses, and befuddlements, and surprises yet to come. Only after joining this community did I finally come to understand when Paul says “I do not cease giving thanks for you.” And I don’t—for this place, and these people, and the work being done here, I’m unceasingly grateful.
(And just to make sure we’re not confusing any of our Tennessee folks, Rabbit Room membership doesn’t confer any legal rights of “membership” as defined under the Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation Act.)