Our phoenix burst into flame early in the year and spent much of 2022 featherless, feeling awkward and uncomfortably cold as it puttered along putting out articles.
But we knew it was part of a cycle—all part of a plan to grow.
Today, loyal and patient readers, it is my great pleasure to present to you a new and improved version of Third Factor! I’ve been working with designers and coders on this since last May, and with my insightful advisors since before that, thinking about what our project offers people that’s of the most value and how we could build on that.
Allow me to walk you through what there is to find in this resurgent version of Third Factor.
Ever since I began the magazine in 2018, I’ve been hearing that one thing that people who read our content want is to connect with others who find it useful, too. That’s why, the following year, we launched a member community.
The problem is, liking our content here is a necessary start, but that’s not enough for members to find meaningful connection. There needs to be something else to help our rather diverse membership body find others who click.
Nothing does that like a shared purpose. It’s with this in mind that we’re rolling out community groups. Each group will be led by one or two of Third Factor’s most insightful and engaged members; each group represents a particular passion that they would like to share with you, through discussion and other meaningful action. Four are ready to go as of this revamp, with at least two others slated to arrive by mid-Spring. Those going live this month include The Doers’ Space, in which energetic Doers of Things will come together to support each other and help each other solve problems; The Third Factor Young Adults’ Group, for those ages 16 to 25 going through positive disintegrations to support each other; The Disssenters, a group exploring what its founder calls “maladjustment to maladjustment”; and a group dedicated to exploring our Hierarchies of Values through good-faith discussion and debate. You can also find these profiles easily under Community on our menu above. To join one of these groups, you will of course need to sign up at the Community Member or Benefactor tiers. Each group will work a bit differently, depending on the leader and the group culture, but all will be some mix of written engagement and Zoom or Circle Live Space events.
More Live Events, More Public Notice
While we’ve been running live events for a while, we hadn’t quite worked out how to run the process smoothly—from finding the right leaders (when it’s all on me, that severely limits our reach) to doing the admin to set them up and communicate and publicize them.
Maybe this is only exciting for me because I did most of the admin work (apart from one amazing volunteer who has gone on maternity leave, that is) but we’ve worked out a way to automate this process! Now, when a member leader publishes an event in the Forum, it will be automatically published to our front page at thirdfactor.org, visible even to those of you who are not members but who might like to know what’s going on. Scroll through the website and you’ll see what we’re talking about. A lot has been happening in our forum over the past few months, but if you weren’t actively engaged, you wouldn’t have known about it. Now, if you browse our website, you will.
Coming Soon: Podcast & Pile of Articles
For those of you who support us at the Subscriber tier and are not interested in community groups or events, however, never fear: I’ve neglected you, but I’m about to make it up to you.
I’ve also heard those of you who find us through podcasts and prefer audio engagement to written. I may be a writer, but this is a site about growth, so I’m going to take you up on your suggestion: our podcast will re-launch this spring. Lessons from our abortive first attempt have been integrated and taken on board, and I’m now hard at work with our first paid team member, our audio editor, preparing the first season of our podcast! If you scroll down the main page, you’ll see a space reserved for the podcast—and one teaser episode.
I’ve also got quite a backlog of article drafts stacked up in my Google Drive, including interviews with some remarkable people and reflections by community members and other contributors. From the day I launched this project in 2018, my goal—the reason I started a magazine rather than just pitching articles to preexisting sites—was to further conversation among a broader community of creatives and catalysts. I never forget that that community is bigger than this local community I host on Circle. It is my fervent hope that the energy our smaller local community injects into this project will bubble up into the larger one.
To those who have waited patiently with me while our phoenix toddled around featherless, I beg a bit more patience. My hope is that when your articles finally go live, they’ll reach even further, whether through social media shares or more active conversation around them!
Alongside all this fanfare, we also have a new issue! Alongside this editor’s letter, we have two articles. They touch on something foundational to what we’re building, which is why I chose to publish them in the issue that launches the new website.
First, Margo Margan returns with a memoir that, I hope, will push us to think critically about an idea we so love here at Third Factor: namely, that of positive maladjustment. We’ve talked before about the difficulty of figuring out whether our maladjustment is truly positive or if we’re just fooling ourselves. In her story about her high school experience, When You’re Maladjusted to Maladjustment, Margan tells of her own positive disintegration and how she came to realize that she was maladjusted to maladjustment itself. It’s a thought-provoking piece; whatever your view on today’s “culture of maladjustment,” I hope it will catalyze some helpful ideas for you on your climb.
(Margan also happens to be the leader of two of the small groups that are launching with this issue. If you relate to her struggle, you may be interested in her Dissenters group!)
And I gotta say, I’m pumped about her Young Adults’ Group even though I’m not in that age group myself. That’s because, at age 40, I’m really coming to see the importance of intergenerational relationships. I’m therefore thrilled to roll that out while also publishing this reflection by Maxwell Olin Massa, entitled Intergenerational Friendship: Views from Both Sides. I think Massa is absolutely right: older adults have a lot to offer younger ones, and younger ones have a lot to offer older ones. Generations wilt when they’re cut off from each other, as Massa’s reflection suggests. It’s just another way our modern society is creating maladjustment, if you ask me.
Help Me Troubleshoot (Especially Mobile!)
So that’s all the new stuff. All that remains now is to make sure it actually works. And I don’t have a big team to troubleshoot; it’s mainly been me hunting for bugs and reporting to my coding team, or solving it myself, when something doesn’t work as it should.
I’m asking for your help with this.
I especially need help with the mobile site, because I don’t actually have an active smartphone. While I dug out my old one and tested the site to a bare minimum level, that’s hardly enough to find all the little hiccups that you’ll encounter if you primarily engage this way. Therefore, I would be in your debt if you would email us with any problems. This includes reports of bugs as well as things that are just difficult to use on a mobile. I wanted a native mobile-friendly site, but I can’t be sure I got it. If not, no matter: let’s fix it!
Please Consider Supporting Our Work
All of this has taken so long because it’s more than I can reasonably do on my own. There are things volunteers can help with, and as you’ve seen here, we have a great group of them. They’re making this project what it is.
Then there are the tasks that take a special skill, or that aren’t necessarily fun or fulfilling for volunteers. Far fewer people sign up to fix broken websites or figure out why the payment system isn’t working or to manage my schedule. If I found a magic lamp right now, the first thing I’d ask the genie for would be a personal secretary. Seriously. Fortune, smortune!
Then again, if I wished for a fortune, I could just hire a secretary. Sadly, lacking a magic lamp, I have had to make do with another means to wish fulfillment: namely, money. A lot of people act like that’s a dirty word, but it’s actually a pretty good way to allocate scarce resources like time and skill. I’ve come to appreciate it especially after trying to run this place myself: you see, I do all the editing and all the admin. I also oversee the designers and administer the forum. And I schedule interviews. And when stuff breaks, I fix it, which usually involves teaching myself how to do it. I recently discovered a very helpful tool called Zapier that automates some of the administrative tasks: now members who sign up will be automatically added to the forum, which is a huge deal. But Zapier costs $25/month and hiring someone to design a Zap for me is $125/hour. I’ve been trying to teach myself to construct Zaps instead, but that’s precisely why you aren’t seeing more content.
And I’m under the impression that some of you would like to actually hear what I have to say.
If that’s what you want, would you consider becoming a member? If your wish is for more content, grant my wish and help me hire some skilled editorial and administrative help! On that note, I’m delighted to announce that I’ve also just hired Third Factor’s first paid team member: a part-time audio editor, for the forthcoming podcast!
It’s our members who have made that possible. I extend my deepest thanks to all of you who have supported this project, whether financially, or as volunteers, or by sharing with me that you value it—or in some cases, all three.
I hope all this new stuff has you feeling like your investment was a good one. If you have thoughts, positive or negative, you know where to reach me.
Header image courtesy Terablete / Shutterstock