About eight months ago, I was moving to a new office, and I found a notebook with my original handwritten notes from 2010 for an idea that would later be named Columbus Creative Cooperative. Younger Brad envisioned an organization that would bring writers together for productive collaboration and mutual self-improvement.
A crazy thing happened. What started as hairbrained chicken scratch on a legal pad actually worked. Over the next 6 years we produced 9 books, published hundreds of stories, hosted over 100 writers’ workshops, seminars, and write-ins. Our organization now has thousands of members. We’ve seen friendships bloom, and watched some of our members go on to build their own collaborative projects and organizations.
Over the past year, we’ve been experiencing a kind of growing pain. CCC has always largely functioned on my back, which is something I was happy to do, and on the backs of my staff for Columbus Publishing Lab, which I was happy to provide. But as the organization grew, the maintenance of the thing became more than I could reasonably provide as a gift, let alone tackle new projects. It always comes as a surprise to anyone who’s never run an organization how much overhead there is – legal requirements, taxes, answering member emails, maintaining social media, and so much more. Before long, these 5-minute tasks are a full-time job. Yet, despite our growth, the organization was not yet large enough to support a paid staff member.
We’ve been tremendously blessed by volunteers like Emily Hitchock, Brenda Layman, Heather Shaw, Nick Thomas, Aaron Behr, Iam Moeckel, Steve Knapp, Lin Rice, Birney Reed, Chris Minton, Matt Betts, and so many others. But even managing volunteers comes with its own overhead.
This year provided an opportunity to reevaluate who we are as an organization, and what we can do really well.
There are some things you can do with 5,000 members, that you couldn’t do with 12. And the inverse is also true. Here’s what we can do really well right now:
Publishing – We produce really cool books that create real opportunities for writers and service under-represented markets.
Writers Workshops – Honest, unbridled feedback has always been at the core of CCC. We’re in a position to resume our writers’ workshops and expand this model to other groups and communities.
Classes – We have an amazing network of experts among our membership, and we have a history of producing excellence. We are ready to begin offering formalized classes for aspiring writers.
Events – Because our network has grown, it’s easier than ever to promote events.
Connections – We want to celebrate our members! Our social media audience wants to hear about the success of our members. And through our workshops, classes and events, we’re optimized to help our members form new friendships and collaborations.
And we’ve evaluated who we are. We’re not a frisky group of upstarts from Central Ohio any longer. I live in Zanesville myself. Our members hail from all over the state of Ohio, and many from around the country. Our group now includes industry experts, published authors and changemakers.
So we’ve taken stock of what our organization is uniquely gifted to be, and who we are as a group. And it’s not Columbus Creative Cooperative any longer. We’ve come far from my handwritten notes on a yellow legal pad.
Effective today, we are the Ohio Writers’ Association. We are a community-based organization with a mission to support professional writers and emerging Ohio authors.
There will be a lot of changes. We’ll be permanently cutting some programs we’ve maintained in the past, as well as opening some new doors. All existing members of Columbus Creative Cooperative will be automatically migrated to members of the Ohio Writers Association. Paid members will not lose any time on their subscriptions.
We’ll be posting lots of information to our new website at www.OhioWriters.org over the next few days. Please bear with us as we make these changes, and I think you’ll see the answers to your questions soon. But you are always free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Over the coming months, we’ll be forming new partnerships with businesses and organizations in the community, and rolling out new initiatives. Please follow us on Facebook or on Twitter to stay in the loop, and of course, today is a great day to become a member if you haven’t yet.
We are very excited to embark on these changes, and to continue carrying the torch that began with Columbus Creative Cooperative. Thank you for your continued support as we look to the future.