How to support Qultura
It's somewhat fitting that we open this section for our Support page for the world's first global community working towards social and cultural change through the development of empathy by telling you the story of the man who first had the idea - Ian 'Fibbo' Fibbens, one of the founder members of Qultura.
Fibbo, as he liked to be called, had a difficult relationship with some members of his family. He worked in finance, spent some time working in the City and he was passionate about music - all music - being also a session guitarist. A yuppie guitarist and just like so many others he was riding the wave, being successful, and then due to relationship difficulties and a drink problem the wave crashed. Then he developed diabetes and his health was in decline.
But he had an amazing personality and was perhaps one of the kindest, compassionate, supportive people you could ever meet. He lived outside London, and ended up socially excluded. He got to know Stella Baker around 2008 or 2009 through Qultura Fringe and they had plans to write song parodies together and set them to music. At the time both Stella and Ian were struggling with major depression spells and they were trying to overcome them. But it's almost impossible when you don't have much of a social circle, aren't working, and don't have that much money. You fall out of touch with people who still have their lives together.
When Stella first developed Creative Law and suggested turning Qultura Fringe, the theatre and drama workshops, into Qultura Ian was enthusiastic and committed to being involved. He said that people were having the empathy and sense of community drained from them by the system, especially austerity and they were really struggling. He liked the idea of developing an organization which was focussed on creativity on the one hand, and on supporting people out of social stigma and social exclusion on the other. As we were not getting anywhere fast in trying to get Qultura off the ground (we have always struggled) he first pitched the idea of dissolving boundaries between organization and users and just having one big community where it didn't matter who you were or what you did, or whether you were rich, or poor, or struggling, because the community was the most important thing.
Nobody tried harder than Ian to overcome his issues, depression and social exclusion. He reached out to people, online, offline, his health getting weaker and weaker. But he still reached out, supported people however which way he could. He would phone people for hours and just talk to them, connect to them. In the end the social exclusion proved to be too much. Some friends turned on him and suggested that he kill himself because he was such a burden. Stella went out to see him late in October 2013 but was concerned with his declining health. After her visit she suggested Ian coming down for Christmas that year but also staying longer in London living with her until he could get himself back together and recover. However later in November Ian said that he had found some people locally and was setting up a music project so Stella wished him well and after a conversation to check that the people he was getting involved with were genuine she left it at that.
It was some weeks later that we discovered that Ian's health deteriorated further and he was admitted to hospital around Christmas 2013 with complications of diabetes. He was placed on a life support machine but as the doctors said that he had little chance of recovery because his heart was failing his family decided to switch off his life support machine. He died aged just 45.
The obituary above is his legacy to Qultura
He is one of three Qultura figures who have died in similar circumstances during our development. There was Chris Saddler in Battersea who died aged 60 in a fire in his flat, again isolated and trying to recover from a drink problem. There was Stephen who was to run our finances after recovering partially from cancer after a building accident, but who died shortly after being disallowed any involved with Qultura and who instead was sent on Workfare to pick up litter for 16 hours a week. As Ian was often persisistently pointing out there is nowhere near enough empathy between people in today's society.
This is what we are working to change through the development of our global community.
Please don't just donate
This is not about the money or fundraising. Qultura has never ever been funded, we have twice been denied status as a registered charity because our mission isn't 'charitable' enough. We have developed a pledge and support system because to us, it's the connection and empathy that matters. Anyone can click or tap a financial transaction and move on. But we'd much prefer a pledge so that we can ensure that the right support goes to the right person and there's some sense of connection. We explain the three stages of how someone gets support in our system below.
This is all explained in greater detail in the video about Qultura's strategy for change which you can find in the 'About Qultura generally' section. Fundamentally we promote and advocate that if people are struggling with life, with trauma, or with difficult issues and they need support then they seek to negate whatever trauma they are experiencing through reaching out to community and also going through a process of individuation. The philosophy is to not resist trauma, or fight it, but to seek to move past it and turn it from trauma into drama through sharing insight.
The first part of this process is seeking recognition for this reversal of participation and connection to community. There's two reasons for this and both are linked to developing empathy between people.
- Reversal of participation
- The reaching out through the reversal of participation encourages someone to develop a narrative or express themselves about their trauma to develop insight, awareness and understanding. We all have our own unique and individual perspective on life and how we relate to others, and unless you have experienced trauma through say being street homeless, you have no way of understanding or knowing what being street homeless really means. You have no idea of the difficulties and complications involved outside of that what you can imagine. But if you are left to imagine you are forced to make assumptions. You really need to be learning about the different social issues from the people who have direct experience.
- Creation of the opportunities for empathy
- Next we encourage our reverse participants, i.e. those who need community support, to create appeals based on their individual experiences of trauma to share insight, awareness and understanding to the wider community or society. This is to give people in wider society opportunities to develop empathy through contact with our appeals. We strongly encourage people who need support to seek support, reverse participation in our community, and to create appeals. From our perspective the more people who are given access to opportunities to develop empathy in society, the better
Understanding Qultura appeals
We work with reverse participants wherever possible so they create appeals in their own way, using their own words, telling their stories, giving their background, detailing what they need, and we publish each appeal in this section of this website.
As we are working to develop an international community this is all still very much ground zero, but what we envisage eventually is to have enough supporters of our community who can offer support to those members of our community who are struggling, and develop a dynamic enough community where people come to our website to develop empathy simply through reading through appeals without having to go through a charity. It's not that we are competing with charities, but we tend to focus on the far more complicated issues surrounding trauma such as the emotional and psychological aspects rather than the practical aspects. We give those needing support and going through trauma a level of autonomy that charities cannot provide, because it would drain them of their precious resources.
We have published an example appeal to give people some idea of how one of our appeals will look.
While pledges are designed to work in conjunction with appeals you don't have to wait for anyone to reverse their participation and start creating appeals to pledge your support for the Qultura community and our work. You can also if you have browsed this website and support what we do on principle make the first move and pledge your support in anticipation for someone who needs it or even for those working to develop the community at Qultura Core. All you need is to see what is going on around you and a little bit of empathy.
We have designed our pledge and support system to be a two way empathy system where even if you haven't joined our Qultura community and elected to participate in the process of creating the changes needed to create the necessary social and cultural values to take us to that new place beyond individualism you can still help by making the process of developing such changes easier by lending your support. You can do this as a business, because while we have never been officially funded much of our development was made possible by private businesses in the Battersea and Nine Elms community who shared space and such things as food and helped meeting essential expenses.
We don't accept support from just anyone
Please understand that Qultura has been put together by a small bunch of pensioners and jobless and has largely been developed by the disenfranchized in society just in case you think we're a bunch of well paid 'executives' in some fancy offices somewhere. We are totally committed to what we do, even if others are not and while we appreciate support from whoever our commitment to our mission and values means that we cannot accept support from anyone indiscriminately.
Therefore we're here to tell you, up front, that if you are involved in any way in the profiteering from human trauma, misery, suffering and hardship you cannot support Qultura, our community or our work. If we suspect that a pledge comes from such a source we will investigate and if we find such support to come from such sources we will refuse and reject such support. We're not here to pass judgment and if you choose to harm others for financial profit then we accept that that's your thing but to support Qultura you need to understand that it's the empathy that's the most important part of the support we seek, not the financial, spatial or material support, and if you're unwilling to share empathy or develop it, you cannot support us.
What you can pledge
Please understand that pledges are designed to be based on what you can share or give and not on what you can do - where instead you need to consider participating in our community as a volunteer. If you can share something of benefit to others, be it space, food, help with expenses, anything which can support creativity, such as a computer, a musical instrument, or help support someone who is destitute, a service, goods, and you can get the support to them, then usually you can pledge it.
Please understand that Qultura does little or no fundraising - we solicit pledges instead - so usually a donation is something done to follow through on a pledge. The only exception is if you want to donate something to the Qultura Core project to help meet our expenses of being online (some £300 a year), or cover the costs of our flyers and handouts (£25 per 1,000) or towards other essential expenses which would make things easier for us to do our work but generally we prefer donations to follow up on pledges. Please be aware that all donations made to pledges from individual members of our community who have created appeals go directly to their causes as quickly as possible. As we are a volunteering cooperative we don't take money for administration, which is a volunteering role.