Hi, I am A.J. Drew and this is ‘Plan B’. I am loved by some, hated by others. Everyone who knows the name seems to have an opinion. A few think I am dead. The one thing everyone agrees is I am one heck of a character. You can read more about me in the About section of the main menu. Oh but this post is not about me, despite the featured image of my son and I. So what is this post about?
Back In the Day
It is about restoring community. Pagan Nation was established decades ago. Back in the days of perl scripting and flat database files. To get here, you had to walk uphill, both ways, in year round winter snow, without shoes. Believe it or not, Pagan Nation was originally started as a dial up bulletin board system. That was back when you could literally hear your modem dial in. I think at the time it was operated on a cutting edge 386 PC. I think it peaked out at about 20 member.
Back then, I was absolutely in love with what the computer age was beginning to offer. Although primitive by today’s high standard, the new ability to communicate with others struck me as absolutely amazing. The phone bill, was not so amazing.
Back in those days, things like email and user groups were not the instant thing they are today. Instead of using the internet to gather information, the bulletin board software would use that loud clunky modem to call various points to retrieve and send information. Typically, a BBS administrator would set the software to send and retrieve information once or twice a day. Often, the closest hub was a long distance phone call. Although a person could ask for donations, the software at the time was not really designed to offer perks to member who chose to donate. So it was really a labor of love that offered the administrator few rewards. Thing is, those rewards were worth it to me. Not so much because I thought the service I provided was great. But because I saw the potential of the information age.
Along Came The Internet & Salem West
Pagan Nation was probably slow to migrate to the Internet. It took pace when I opened a store in Obetz, Ohio. Although tremendous good came out of opening that store, I have some advice: Do not open a pagan store in Obetz, OH. With so much false information about the modern pagan (aka neopagan) movement, the local populous was not pleased. Despite my continued focus on earth based spirituality, they seemed to decide the store should be treated like an adult book store. They sought to force the store to close with pubic nuisance laws. After all, some of the imagery on tarot cards can be a bit risque. Of course the classic Greek and Roman statuary from antiquity, well they show breasts. Even today, places like Facebook wont allow those.
My first impression of the internet was a two sided coin. So much potential but so much junk. The junk being things like the censorship now being imposed by some of the largest social media. The potential being what social media could be. I was absolutely in love with the concept of the citizen journalist later realized with cell phones. So I set about migrating the idea I’d tried to incorporate into the bulletin board system to a web site.
URL & Hardware Migrations
Pagan Nation migrated threw a couple URLs (internet addresses) and several approaches to hardware and connectivity. After moving the store to Columbus, Ohio: the service was hosted on our own servers and connected to the internet by a private dedicated T1. After 13 years at the same location: the store, the servers, and part of my brain were destroyed when our landlord’s pipes flooded the store. The water destroyed the store and servers. I was unfortunate enough to be standing in the water when electrical service was reestablished.
Fortunately, I was able to recreate much of the service to a hosted solution. Unfortunately, although the service survived and membership migrated to the new platform, my brain did not make the transition.
Over the course of a couple years, I managed to alienate most supporting membership. Without the financial support, the service crumbled under its own weight. The new Pagan Nation platform is envisioned as impervious to even my stupidity.
A Different Pagan Nation
The new Pagan Nation runs on a leased server some where in the cloud. Ah, but it is operated from our farm here in the rolling hills of Kentucky. It is the best of both worlds. I can sit here and write code or I can step outside and see Mother Natures splendor.
More importantly, the concept of the new Pagan Nation does not require me or anyone else to moderate or sit and judge. Although it is being introduced with a single public forum system, that system will be augmented by member forums. Instead of a system of moderators, members will be able to create forums and moderate them as they see fit. When that happens, our public forums will be only for introductions and technical assistance with the service itself.
To facilitate the shift to a member driven service, we will be introducing member sites shortly. Each member will be able to create their own site or a fleet of site. Each powered by WordPress and each able to create just about anything you see here at the main site. At that point, articles and blog posts created by members on their own site will feed to the main site here at PaganNation.com. This main site will serve as more of a hub for member sites. Should someone be offended by a post or comment, they will have the option of contacting the site owner rather than a central authority.
Of course the individual sites will have to conform to standard set of common sense rules. But those rules are envisioned as common sense and community enforced. Essentially, the promotion of posts and content here at the main site will be based on community participation. If members do not visit particular sites due to their content, those sites will score low. As a result, they will not be promoted at the main site. Essentially, if the content is not enjoyed by the community it will eventually not be seen by the community.
All Provided for Free, Sort Of
The goal is to provide these service for free. Well, sort of for free. Obviously someone has to pay the bills and we are not exactly rich. So the motto for funding Pagan Nation is the same as the motto at our farm stand: “Take what you need. Leave what you can.”
Our farm does sell CSA shares. We also sell specialty peppers and their seeds by mail. But when the farm stand is open for folk to pick up their CSA shares, the farm stand has a sign with that motto. That is how we plan to fund the services here at PaganNation.com. If you can afford a supporting membership, please purchase one or upgrade your free membership. If you can chip in by donating directly to our hosting account, well that is greatly appreciated too. But if you can not chip in, that is fine too. It is why we also offer free memberships.
Will the new Pagan Nation grow and prosper or will it expand and be crushed under its own weight? The future of this service is entirely up to its membership. A service like this can not be operated on a cheap shared hosting account. With each new member and each new site, cpu and memory requirements increase. Those increase translate increases in monthly hosting. If we are flooded with free membership and can not afford to expand the resources we lease, the site and its service will literally slow to a crawl and likely crash. So it is up to you, the members of this community to ensure it continues to expand at a healthy rate. With enough generous supporting members to assist those who can not support the service monetarily. Our fingers are crossed.