The Planthunter in 2019: Growing Hope
A curious thing happened towards the end of last year. I was chatting to a friend about The Planthunter book, explaining it to her as the culmination of the five years I’ve spent working on The Planthunter website. Then I said this: “Yeah, and once the book is launched that’s the end of the website. I’ll give birth to the book and have a funeral for the website.” I said it as a joke. I had no idea where the words came from but as they left my mouth a wave of relief washed over me. Then I started hyperventilating.
Shit, I said to myself. What does this mean? Why do I feel the urge to kill the thing I’ve dedicated my every waking hour of the last five years to? I began digging, trying to understand why I wanted to kill my baby.
After a lot of thinking I realised something – I don’t want to kill The Planthunter. But I do need to change it. For my sake, for The Planthunter contributor’s sake, and for the sake of its sustainability into the future.
These last five years of growing The Planthunter have been a wild cocktail of amazement, connection, anxiety, exhaustion and joy. It’s felt like both a sparkly green disco ball and a big heavy boulder sitting on my shoulders. The reason I started it is the reason I keep doing it – Passion.
My passion is exploring what it means to be human and in conversation with the natural world. My passion is to encourage people to fall in love with nature, through falling in love with plants. My passion is to make gardeners of everyone, everywhere. The Planthunter has fed my passion and for this I feel incredibly grateful.
The part of me that wanted to kill The Planthunter was not the passionate and purpose-driven creative soul, but the over-tired, insecure, over-committed me. The me who has spent the last five years ricocheting between grand vision and commercial reality. Between love and money. Between feelings of not being enough, and doing too much. I have given my all to The Planthunter and it’s given me more joy and fulfilment than I could have imagined, but as it exists now – as a website supposedly supporting itself solely from advertising – it’s not financially sustainable. It doesn’t feel right to me to push it any further in that direction. So I’m not.
The truth is, I don’t want to be an ‘Influencer’ unless it’s to influence people to change the way they engage with the world around them for the better. I don’t want to sell consumption and its friends – insecurity, fear and greed. I want to sell stories, ideas, change, and hope.
The Planthunter has always, will always, be focused on storytelling, not selling. And so, I’m asking those of you who believe in the values and mission of The Planthunter, who savour our stories, appreciate our contributors, our work, our ideas, to support it. Give a dollar or two or ten a month. Or more, or less. Or nothing. The content on the site will remain free to access always, yet my dream is that it’s supported, in part/in whole/I don’t know, by readers.
If The Planthunter can garner funding from individuals and organisations who value it because of its content and vision, it can continue doing what it does best – telling stories and growing hope. We get to stay focused on the things we’re best at and you reap the benefits of stronger content, clearer minds and uncompromised intentions.
Whilst The Planthunter is a deeply personal endeavour of mine, it’s also not about me. It’s bigger. I have a vision of creating space in the world for conversations about what it means to be human and in dialogue with the rich, messy, growing, decaying, evolving world around us. About how we can be better gardeners of our planet, and ourselves. About the simplicity and beauty of life, with plants. These quiet, hopeful and truthful conversations are important, and The Planthuter is one of a handful of spaces on the Internet where they can sit comfortably.
I want to make our digital, and physical, world better. The Internet is a reflection of us, as humans trying to understand what it is to be here, now. The internet, like us, is flawed and perfect, ugly and beautiful, terrifying and hopeful. Can the Internet be a quieter, more contemplative and more compassionate space? Can a digital garden that whispers of hope, beauty, change and plants flourish amid the noise of the online world? I think it can. I hope The Planthunter in 2019 will prove it.
The Planthunter will have a future if you, The Planthunter community, believe it should have a future. If you value the stories, vision, and integrity of The Planthunter, please consider supporting it.
The move towards reader support is the biggest change happening at The Planthunter this year. Intertwined with it – and with my commitment to slow, good internet, and slow, good life – are a few other tweaks and transparencies:
Content for the sake of content doesn’t happen here, and this year we’re taking our commitment to quality storytelling even more seriously. We’ll likely publish around one to two stories per week, with the same rich mix of words and imagery as always. However, if we’ve got nothing thoughtful/useful/enriching to say, we won’t be saying anything. More is not more. Better is more.
A new look
After five years, The Planthunter website needs a prune, some fertilizer and a big drink of water. It’s currently being re-designed and the new site will launch in mid 2019. More immersive imagery and storytelling is top of the list of tweaks, building on our commitment to making a quiet, contemplative corner of the Internet – where beauty and ideas can be indulged in and savoured.
As of February 2019, we will not accept any banner advertising. Whilst the website has generated a small amount of income in the form of banner advertising, directory listings and brand partnerships, it has never been enough to sustain it. The reason TPH still exists is because I donate many, many hours of my time each week, and contributors donate stories and images. This cannot continue.
The Planthunter Directory will continue to be a valuable part of the website into the future. The Directory is a great resource for readers looking for local businesses and a way for makers and designers to connect with their people. It’s also a great way for small businesses who believe in the vision of The Planthunter to support it.
Where your money will go
The majority of funds gifted by our audience will go directly towards supporting the production and commissioning of content. The more funds we raise, the more scope for better, broader, richer stories. It’ll also go towards less interesting, but no less important, things like website hosting, software, website updates and maintenance.
A few months after I launched the website in 2013, people started referring to me as The Planthunter. I was horrified. I’ve always seen myself as the person behind the idea, not the idea personified. Over the years I’ve accepted that The Planthunter is me, in a way that’s both uncomfortable and inevitable. It has grown from me, whilst being supported and nourished by other voices and minds (in particular, contributing photographer Daniel Shipp and editorial assistant Lucy Munro) over the years. Yet, whilst I have a certain amount of ownership over the vision of The Planthunter, I have no desire to make its outcomes mine. I don’t need to make big profits. I don’t need a public profile. I just want to be able to sustain and grow a vision I, and many others, believe in wholeheartedly.
If you, too, want to grow hope and cultivate beauty, please consider supporting The Planthunter. If you, too, want to make our physical and digital worlds greener, richer and more thoughtful, please consider supporting The Planthunter. If you value our content, creators and perspectives, please consider supporting The Planthunter. The future, with your help, is a particularly vibrant shade of green.
From the bottom of my moss covered heart, thank you. Thank you for reading, sharing and sustaining TPH over the last five years, and for joining us as we ramble into the future. I am, and always will be, incredibly grateful.
Click HERE to support The Planthunter