Witchvox YEAR End (1997)|
Author: Witchvox Central
Posted: April 5th. 1998
Times Viewed: 27,426
The Witches' Voice, Inc.- One Year Later
An overview of our first 2 years on and off the Web
and some thoughts about our future
This week marks the completion of our second year online. In order to plan for our third we have decided to go through an exercise in reflection. Much can be learned from the past; this we know for sure. The following is our statement related to the past, present and future of the Witches' Voice, both on and off line. Recent email has indicated that there are still many misconceptions about who we are, how we do the work and who actually does it. This will be our first effort to put many things back into perspective.
We love change... Our cats hate it! In the past two months, we have moved our life and the Witches' Voice "Headquarters" from Boston, Mass. to Clearwater, Florida. We have used this dramatic change to reflect quite extensively on our personal future and our evolution with the Witches' Voice both on and off line. We had good reason to wonder if the community had any desire to support this work. We temporarily put our requests for sponsorships on hold as well as all checks that we have received in the past 30 days. We have discussed our concerns with many of you in email. The consensus was loud and clear that we should continue to solicit support and keep the TWV web presence alive. Out of close to 350 pieces of email received in the last month directly related to this subject 99% of you said yes and offered your help... 1% of you said "take a hike". If we have learned anything in the last two years, it's that we simply cannot please everyone.
Realistically speaking, life has changed for us personally and in a big way. In 1997, due to our obsession with making TWV the best that it could be... we forgot to get married/handfasted! We DO plan to get married in the next 60 days and properly handfasted in a glorious ceremony this summer. Our love for each other has never been in question. Fritz has taken on a wonderful and brutally challenging job that does require a minimum of 60 hours a week. He loves the challenge and the people. Mercifully, we have set many wonderful systems into place on this web site so, other than the ridiculous amount of email we constantly receive, we WILL find some time for ourselves this year. This we will selfishly strive for. We love it here in Florida and have so much to explore.
The Witches of the World...
TWV would not exist without the desires and interests of the hundreds of thousands of Witches, Wiccans and Pagans that have hit and continue to hit this site on a regular basis. Your Voice IS this web site and via tens of thousands of submission forms, email and surveys, YOU have told us what you want and desire. You have made it easy for us to forge a direction. May you be thrice blessed for the light that you have shared with us.
The Incredible Witch, Wiccan and Pagan Web...
Wren and Fritz are honored to share the pagan web with hundreds of incredible sites and we are proud to be affiliated with the Pagan Webcrafters Association. Some of the pioneer sites are going into their 4th. year online. When we surf the Pagan web we are simply stunned at its depth, beauty and diversity. We have always offered a detailed list of every site we know of and we are thrilled to support them and the wonderful work they do. The success of the Witches' Voice, has little to do with the search engines and everything to do with the generous links we get from many fine sites. TWV is indebted to the Pagan Web and always will be - thank you. It's also worth noting that one of the heaviest hit sections of TWV IS our Pagan links section and one that we recommend that you bookmark today.
How did it start for us? - A Brief History...
On April 2nd 1996, we put three pages up on the 'Net for Laurie Cabot's "Witches' League for Public Awareness" in an attempt to promote tolerance and set right many of the mis conceptions related to the Modern Witch/Wiccan/Pagan movement. Much to our surprise and with the help and support of many wonderful Witches, 1996 was an incredible year. During our tenure with the WLPA, we were able to not only to keep the site online, but to also help generate over $8,000 in funds that went directly back to the community via several cases of discrimination (Iron Oak, Kerri Patavino etc. etc.). A detailed financial statement was proudly posted 3 times during our tenure with the WLPA. During these same 8 months, the WLPA generated some 240,000 hits and achieved many successes in the areas of networking and communication. Wren and Fritz resigned from the WLPA on Dec. 16th. 1996. Upon our departure we handed over a balanced check book with a substantial cash balance, one of the hottest urls on the Pagan web, 143 paid members, and the three pages that we started with. We wished them only the best and took a well deserved break.
|We took a week off...|
After a one week break, we realized that we simply had to continue this work. We spent the month of Jan. 97 creating the first version of the Witches' Voice. We acquired the domain name WitchVox.com and launched the Witches' Voice in cyber space on February 2nd, 1997 with 56 pages and some new technology for the links and contacts section.
|The Witches' Voice - 1997|
To say that our first year online as TWV was a wonderful would be an understatement! We made thousands of friends and learned so much. We made many mistakes and again learned much... WitchVox presently offers 385 pages and some of the accomplishments of 1997 are listed as follows.
And that's just the Web site!
- Thanks to the many that do share this vision, the pages at the Witches' Voice were viewed on personal computers from all over the world some 1,275,237 (hits) times in 1997
- Thanks to the power of the incredible Filemaker Pro Database engine, we evolved systems that enabled us to feature several thousand Witches, Wiccans and Pagans on our State/country pages, 385 Circles and events, 250 Witch and metaphysical shops (mostly submitted to us by local fans of the shops themselves), 976 Pagan web sites in detail with complete contact info, and an current site map. The afore mentioned pages were updated daily in 1997 and never featured an expired event. Technology and lots of hard work enabled us to do this.
- Thanks to the heartfelt concern of hundreds of Witches and thousands of pieces of email, we were able to bring you the latest News and Information related to the Modern Pagan.
- Thanks to the incredible thoughts and inspiration of hundreds of Witches, we were able to offer dozens of essays giving depth and meaning to our name The Witches' Voice.
- Thanks to hard legal research, we were able to offer our White Pages section. These documents not only list YOUR legal rights, but also provide many resources that YOU can use to protect those rights.
- Thanks to the love and experience of many of our Elders, we offered a 26 page commentary on WitchWars including many suggestions on ways to better communicate and unify our wonderful community.
- Thanks to the helpful hint from the beautiful Ari, our incredibly low web site charges for the past 9 months have truly been a gift from the Goddess herself. If not for this, the usage charges for the 150-196,000 hits that we get each month would have put us out of business several months ago, and we mean by a long shot. (see sample of the last two months) We worked very hard in 1997 to keep the web charges at an absolute minimum... The entire Witches Voice site was moved twice in 1997 (ouch!) in order to find the cheapest and most stable web site hosting on the 'Net. What does it cost to host a site with the "action" of the Witches' Voice? Email your web site provider and ask them how much they would charge you for 47 meg of disk space and what the "usage charges" would be for 10.4 GIGABYTE (with a current pace of 12.8 gig) of file downloads per month.
- Thanks to those that became sponsors in 1997, we were able to offer all of the above to the community, for free, for the entire year. Many of them ARE listed on the State/Country pages (many chose to remain anonymous)... They deserve your thanks. Email them if you like what you see here. They made TWV legal, they paid for this to happen.
|The Witches' Voice, Inc. IS a legal Corporation|
(Some of the many things we do in terraspace)
OUR PURPOSE: or why we do this.
The Witches' Voice, Inc. was formed a legal non profit organization in 1997 for many reasons:
There was a need for a PAGAN RESOURCE center on the web. The need was there for clear and well developed educational materials for the Pagan and Non-Pagan alike.
There were numerous acts of DISCRIMINATION against Pagans. There are now many sites out there offering excellent basic info, but there are still only a few doing discrimination related case work specifically for Pagans. TWV aids these "freedom fighters' in the background by providing info and materials upon request. We handle many such cases ourselves. The Witches' Voice has formed many unofficial coalitions with other Pagan organizations doing the same work, as well as more mainstream anti-defamation civil rights organizations.
There was a cry for NETWORKING. We created and evolved the state/country pages so that Pagans, Pagan groups and Pagan shops could list their email addresses, events and workshops. They are listed by not only country and state, but now by city/town as well. We have faithfully updated these 127 state, country pages and the 5,000 plus listings therein on a daily basis without fail for the last year. We strongly encourage Pagans to become active at the local level, but we realize that you have to find one another first. These listings are offered free to the Pagan community. Please use them to strengthen your own area and town. The real fight for awareness and respect happen at a local level.
Corporations that exist in the terra world have real terra expenses, but salaries for us and the other volunteers are not part of them. The entire staff works for free.
What many do not realize is that TWV is NOT a web site. We are a real terraspace corporation that happens to also HAVE a web site. We worked very hard in 1997 to keep the web charges at an absolute minimum... Thanks to the beautiful Ari, we were to find one of the most reasonable and stable web site hosting on the 'Net.
A website doesn't cost all that much. The other things that we provide do. We DO buy the stationary. printer paper, stamps, envelopes. We have printing costs for the info packets. We have phone costs and lawyer fees. Presenting a professional presence through a corporation like TWV-when speaking to the media, contacting lawyers and fighting for reasonable and fair legislation-has helped us all to be taken seriously.
Who are WE responsible to financially?: We are financially accountable to the Old Ones, our sponsors and the US government. We are not accountable to anyone that sees no value in what we do.
THANKS TO OUR WONDERFUL SPONSORS:
The Witches' Voice does not charge for any of these services. The post offices, phone companies, internet service providers, copy printers and lawyers do. Our sponsors allow TWV to pay for services that are then passed along free to the Pagan community.
- We can counsel parents who are facing child custody fights because they are Pagan and provide them with legal documents, case precedents and offer moral support. We talk with their lawyers when necessary. We do research for them. Much of this is done by email, but occasionally we must make phone calls-or accept collect calls from Pagans who cannot afford to pay for the call themselves. We snail mail or fax info to their legal counsel. (Nearly 100% of the time, the parent wants this info to remain confidential. We keep it confidential.) We do not have to charge the Pagan parent anything for this assistance. Our sponsors make it possible.
- We can provide educational packages to Pagan students who are discriminated against for their religious choice and contact the appropriate school officials. By "appropriate", we mean ALL the officials. For every one packet that is sent to the school itself, 7-9 other packets also go out to the school superintendent, the state school board, the governor, attny general and legal counsel of the state in question and the U.S. Board of Education Office. Sometimes, it is the parent who contacts us. We send the student/parent a copy of the contents of the packages including the personalized letter that details as much as possible the reason for the complaint. (How much detail we cite depends on the terms of confidentiality that we have agreed to with the student/parent.) Each packet costs $2.92 each (that's $20-to $30. each time) to mail. We do not have to charge the student/parent for this assistance. Our sponsors make it possible.
- We can counsel Pagans by email and over the phone when their lives are just plain hell because their parents, spouse, schoolmates, friends, neighbors or family has found out that they are Pagan and cannot accept it-or worse, have turned against them. We do not charge for this counseling. Not exactly in our mission statement, but our sponsors don't seem to mind that we do it.
- We can send letters and educational packages to media reporters and outlets on Pagan issues. Each packet costs about $2.50 to mail. We send video tapes and contacts lists to those making documentaries showing Pagan religions in a positive light. We send support funds to other organizations who are doing the same thing. Our sponsors help to make all this possible.
What our sponsors see when they look at The Witches' Voice is a way to help others as well as themselves. By providing the funds to help those who are in these sad circumstances, they are investing in the health, safety and future of the Pagan community. It is not OUR money, it is YOUR money. TWV holds it in the deepest trust because we know that it came from giving Pagan hearts. It all goes back to Pagan community both through the website info and the terraspace assistance.
What YOU SEE is what YOU get... What YOU DON'T SEE is what OTHERS get:
Someone has said that Pagans do not value what they cannot see. We don't believe that is true.
There are the Pagan parents who fear that more public disclosure of their beliefs will endanger their chances of keeping their children. They will remain unknown to most people. But our sponsors care about them.Our sponsors DO care. They may never personally come to know any of these people that they have helped. Many of those who have requested aid have also requested confidentiality and we hold that trust sacred. They may be nameless and faceless to most, but because of our sponsors, they did not have to remain powerless.
There are the Pagan teens who go to schools in narrow minded towns. Yet they may want to stand up for their religion and beliefs somehow. Maybe they can't come forward. Maybe they are still afraid. But our sponsors care about them.
There are the seekers who are just finding this Path. They may not know who to ask or where to go. They may not be lucky enough to meet you or recognize that you are a fellow Pagan. But because of the networking section, they can contact others in their town, perhaps try an open circle or find a Pagan shop. Maybe we will never meet them. But our sponsors care about them.
They did not have to struggle alone. They did not have to worry alone. They did not have to feel alone. Because our sponsors cared...
Today and Tomorrow...
WitchVox Present Day: March '98 was, once again, our busiest month ever. The site was pounded on to the tune of 196,000 hits, and 12.9 Gigabytes of images and text were pulled down from our server and viewed on thousands of personal computers. Our normally "difficult to keep up with" email volume doubled. This is a biggest problem and one that we are presently looking for solutions to.
So what's in store for 1998? It's important to note that since April 2nd 1996, This work has evolved directly from the requests of the Pagan community. It's also worth noting that we HAVE been making this up as we go along. This year TWV will face new challenges and opportunities. As long as the Pagan community desires...
Our first two years online have been simply incredible... The love and support we have personally experienced from thousands is more than any Witch could ever dream of. Our sponsors made this possible. If YOU have enjoyed the Witches' Voice, go to your state page and toss them a piece of email. They made ALL of this possible and we could never thank them enough for all that they have done for the Pagan community.
- We will continue to fight for our right to practice the religion of our choice.
- We will continue to speak out against the discrimination against Witches, Wiccans and Pagans in our schools, in the community, in child custody battles and in the work place.
- We will work much harder to strengthen the terra side of the Witches' Voice.
- We will work to show our local community that we are in thier service.
- We will continue to bring the latest news and information to the community.
- We will continue to solicit sponsorships and encourage the community to support itself via donations to Witches' Voice or any of the other reputable Pagan organizations.
- We will continue to offer newer and better ways to network the Pagan Community.
- We will make a stronger effort to support the other organizations that do similar work. By doing this, we can help eliminate much of the redundancy in our mutual presentations.
- We will quickly look for ways to harness our overwhelming email volume.
In Your Service,
Founders - The Witches' Voice
(April 7th, 1998 c.e.)
Location: Clearwater¼, Florida
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