December 30, 2022
In the decade that we have kickstarted Yefe Nof into existence and established a track record, I have not confirmed that what people want most out of stewardship is someone who knows how to achieve a mission. Your continued support has always been the lifeblood of the creative culture we started, and while it is vital to our existence, I have long asked myself why any of you continue to invest in our future. I want to make sure that by investing in our residents, you make your life more meaningful. So maybe it’s time you got more involved in running this organization with me? After all, the joy is setting our sights on a vision and a mission that makes our lives more meaningful.
This year I want to imagine the next phase for our culture. I want to restructure our ideals and make it clear that our good work does not rely on miracles.
Every end of the year when I’m suffering the anxiety that comes with not having had much time to steward Yefe Nof, I force late nights and odd moments to check in with my vision- and mission-driven ambitions and the reality which we are facing. Reality is a construct, and I know that we can plan to build a flexible organization which lasts hundreds of years. The work that I need help with at this point is about more than fundraising. It’s about constructing the freedom to maintain multiple perspectives on where this goes.
This year I want some real investment in the arts. A plan with more freedom, to do more, and do better. And to get there I need a new model that includes more of you.
That is why I invite you to ask the following questions with me: What are we doing? Are we doing what we say we are doing? Is Yefe Nof a community? Or is it just one home on a street full of homes and the beginning of a dialogue? If it is a community, do writers, researchers, and designers want this community? Do supporters of this community want community? If it is a dialogue, who is aware that it is a dialogue? And do aspiring Yefe Nof applicants who should be aware of the dialogue (and community) want anything more than the time and space we offer? What do they want to do with time and space? Do they want isolation, inspiration, or rest and relaxation? And, what about me? What do I want?
At the outset, I wanted to honor my dad in a way that was more than ordinary. I knew my dad helped a lot of people with his work as a psychologist. But, more than that, I wanted to make his life work more meaningful. Instead of letting go and moving on, I wanted to adapt to his death by creating an extension of the already existing landscape of his life. Thanks to many of you, this has been becoming a reality for a decade.
The Yefe Nof Residency turns the private sense of belonging from a typical household into the pluralistic sense of belonging that comes from productivity, well-being, and connection.
Houses can be bought and sold, but there is nothing commercial about a sense of belonging. This is the mentality I want to take into the second decade of our existence.
And like I admitted – twice already – I need your help to continue this path. Not only your financial support. I know I was lucky to get a lot of blind loving support from the start. It’s a pretty decent synopsis of the Yefe Nof ethos that, “We recognize those who may have little expected of them precisely because they have little to show.” Yet, does this work from an operational standpoint? Financial investments expect a return, but most of you expected nothing, not even a tax write off. So, let me take a page from Strategic Management 101 and be a voice of reason: in order for an organism to thrive it must be politically acceptable, managerially operable, and financially viable.
This should sound like a litmus test on whether we have the collective will to improve the operability and viability of Yefe Nof.
To really make a measurable impact in the lives of people who want to realize the power of their finished work, we need to offer more than time and space to our residents. I need you to be interested in building a bigger, more impactful network with me in our unique style. With your help I will steward Yefe Nof to be a more vital mental place for unknown authors and groundbreaking work. That includes a multi-faceted, synergistic, networked ecosystem of gathering inspiration, focus on craft, and pushing work to completion. With your help we will set the narrative as a collaborative and use new programmatic, organizational, and financial modeling to start to make a stronger reality out of our ideals. Yefe Nof will go from a project to honor my Dad to a vital organism honoring creative writing, research, and design as a way of life and a way of making a living.
In a small step to that end, we have a new fundraising platform to build out more of our organization with you.
The work finished at Yefe Nof in 2022 has been everything but common. The list includes podcast design, music and theater, non-fiction essay, fiction, playwriting and performance art, literary nonfiction, and translation. This year your funds have supported three California Writing Residencies, one Redesign Residency, three Core residencies, two Collaborative residencies, and one Emergent Translator Residency. The latter residency launched this year in partnership with the L.A. Review of Books, which is one of the internet’s most shared literary sites, with over a half a million readers each month.
Please, judge me now, and continue to build with me. If you still believe that Yefe Nof can fundamentally make a difference to creativity and benefit society, we would like you to consider a gift of a $100 today. Think of this as the start of a capital campaign to buy (or borrow) a street full of homes and open up our dialogue to the general global public. Your individual commitment will help us establish the higher profile we need to plan for the future.
Thank you for your time and energy.