FAQ

I’ve tried to capture here, answers to the most frequently asked questions over the years. Click any question to jump straight to the answer:

What is Ervin and Company about?

Life is about making the best possible outcomes of the opportunities that exist. Trouble is, we see obstacles and challenges where there are opportunities. There is no shortage of very real issues but the way we frame them is up to us. We have the option of having life happen to us or for and because of us. That’s the difference between choosing to be subjected to life or exercising the agency to create our lives. The work of Ervin and Company is concerned with the latter framing. We build tools to help people lead more intentional lives.

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What happened to Positively Inclined?

I moved away from the Positively Inclined brand choosing to focus, not on an organization but on the individual (myself, Ervin Welsh). It’s become standard that we create things bigger than ourselves before we’ve sufficiently created ourselves. Organizations take on a life of their own when they should be extensions and magnifications of individual capacity and individual impact, by way of organizing.
Learn more at the difference between Positively Inclined as it was and Ervin and Company.

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I remember when you covered events. Why did that change?

In my early years, my aim for social change was through the popularization of positivity. Putting it in the spotlight and it being the new thing to be was the way — in short — I saw that unfolding. I realized at a point, as I searched for understanding (as was an ongoing pursuit), that most of what we’ve created had been created unconsciously and by ripple effect rather than intention. My strategy would have worked but what I would have built would have been subject to crumble with the next new cool.

What I came to understand was that we need conscious, intentional change if there’s to be change for the long-haul. And that’s why I speak about understanding; that’s why I call for us to be the architects, engineers and contractors of our individual and collective reality.

Putting a spotlight on positivity is a good thing. It has its place, there is a need, but ours is an issue much more fundamental than simply what we give attention to; it’s the very principles we hold dear. My aim had always been for positive change for the long-haul. When I came to understand what that will take, I left my previous approach and pursued it.

This is in itself an example of how we’re to stand for principled-ness. I stood for principles and they led me to see that where I was aiming was not in line with the outcomes I hoped for so I changed course. I stood then for what I believed in and I still do today. I didn’t “fall” for anything, I saw my own faults and consciously and intentionally changed course, acknowledging my flawed-ness and reorienting myself thereafter.

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What do you do?

We build tools which fall into two categories

  1. Education
    1. Culminating in an online platform called Provitman University (in development) and
  2. Opportunities for personal and communal development
    1. Including tools for organizations to engage and empower their communities and
    2. For individuals to empower themselves and their immediate support system and beyond (e.g. entrepreneurial enterprises)
    3. We design programmes for social progress
      1. We develop and execute these programmes.
      2. We make the framework (and most often the content of these programmes) available for other individuals or entities to execute similar initiatives.
    4. We analyse societies for an understanding of the dysfunction that informs social issues.
      1. We architect, engineer and construct interventions to redress and preempt social issues.
      2. We engineer socially progressive modes of operation that can replace faulty currently implemented processes, socio-economically and otherwise.

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What is the end goal?

  1. On the Education side, Provitman University.
    1. This will include pathways for self education on both the myriad of social issues and
    2. The development of skills and capacity to develop the complex physical environments we build i.e. skill sharing in everything from trades and the arts, to other professions like healthcare.This is the intrinsic purpose of organizations. See my work titled Telos: The Truth for more on this philosophy.
  2. Regarding the opportunities for social progress that we create, the aim is
    1. To build an all-encompassing portfolio of freely accessible tools for the development of self and community.
      1. This includes business opportunities, as mentioned above, businesses (organizations) are meant to serve society, not profit and
      2. Tools that facilitate wise use of resources and effective intentional use of time and management of the complexity that constitutes our lives, and of which we take for granted.

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How do you expect to change the world when everybody is different?

“The world” is made up of many individuals. If each individual takes up his responsibilities, the world see to itself. It’s not for me or anyone else to concern ourselves foremost with what others are doing or how they are being; we have to focus on getting ourselves on track to begin with (since we contribute to the same issues we want to redress). Get ourselves right, then the path to the world we want will be much clearer.

Note too that standing as examples of the way an individual ought to be in the world is an action that speaks much louder than our calls for change.

See “…How to Change the World — Properly” for an excellent talk about how the individual must organize himself if he is to positively impact anything beyond himself.

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Why spend so much time in thought when there’s so much to be done?

I’d say we’ve “done” enough, considering we create the world we live in. What we’ve prioritized doing, and our inaction, is the reason for the status quo, so being gung-ho about doing more is the exact opposite of what we should do.

There’s a direct relationship between our unattended lack of understanding and unrelenting and increasingly worsening social issues. We must understand how we (each individually) inform the status quo if we’re to have the positive impact we want. I spoke about an occasion in which I came to see how I contribute to the things I don’t want, in a work called, For A Price.

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How do you measure your success?

I don’t measure success.

Success has to do with outcomes and I have no control over these, only choices. I may never personally see the fruits of my work but if my work is the seed that eventually grows into a healthy future then that’s all I could aim for.

As far as measurements, I do as much as the next to ensure clarity of my message and the maximum possible reach etc. but even these aren’t my focus. What I am proposing is not popular thought. It’s thought I’ve had to challenge my own conclusions in order to come to. I’m still learning. Reaching people isn’t currently my priority, it’s understanding more deeply. The more I understand, the better equipped I am to have a positive effect. Everyday I immerse myself in my thoughts and I can see clearly my growth. That’s success!

Where the ultimate aim of positively affecting the world we collectively inhabit is the desire, Provitman University is being built to unpack these complex ideas into smaller blocks of interrelated knowledge. Having the knowledge is the first order of business. Refining the knowledge is second and distribution is third. I’m at second. Success!

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Your content is too complicated.

I’m still learning and the process of writing helps me to refine my thoughts. Additionally, before I can make things simple, I have to articulate them in their raw, complex, form as I come to understand them. My intention is to develop pathways to better navigate the my and to distill them into simpler forms that will then built upon.

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Who is Ervin?

ervin.

Thinker
Educator
Servant
Problem-solver
Conduit
Catalyst
Champion
Creative
Creator
And So Much More
Unmimicable
Invaluable
Just As You Are

.Surname welsh but ervin suffices

See About Ervin page.

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What do you stand for?

I stand for principled-ness!

Principles are the fundamental element of life. I don’t think it’s important we stand for “something”. It’s important we stand for principles! To stand unwaveringly in wrong thought is nothing to be proud of and nothing to value. Having principles that, like an algorithm, allow us to adapt to any new understanding and stand upright in right is the sort of standing we ought to do.

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Why do you carry yourself like you don’t care about your appearance?

My appearance has changed for many reasons. In brief, the most relevant to bring to the fore includes becoming disillusioned about what professionalism is.

How I carried myself before was the way I viewed professionalism but I realized professionalism is not something conveyed through grooming — though it can almost always be deduced from the way one carries himself — it is intrinsic.

I realized how unprofessional and unethical professionally-attired persons are, and while my change wasn’t meant to somehow challenge that fact, I relinquished my attachment to the look when I realized this.

I realized how attached the viewing public is to appearance. When I dressed as I did before (but grew my hair and it was well groomed), it opened my eyes to people’s hypocrisy regarding respect being a basic right afforded to one another. I got a lot of disparaging remarks and I got this from everywhere — at all levels. This was unrelenting and I came to learn about the staggeringly repugnant experiences of others as well. I realized there is purportedly “free choice”; there is the, “come as you are”; and the fondness of others toward you, apparently conditioned on something as basic as how you carry your hair.

Interestingly enough, just before I took a nose dive in how I chose to carry myself, I was growing more interested in presenting myself in more intentionally creative ways. I’m a creative so I’ve long had a profound relationship with colours and patterns — they are how I interact with the world — but they have never been a thing I considered integrating into my wardrobe. I began to become conscious of appearance and intended to integrate these into my wardrobe but around that same time — with realizations like those bulleted above, and deeper understanding about fashion, the implications of “fast fashion” and the implications of our consumption patterns on the natural environment and on those who produce the clothing we wear, I decided to be more conscious and to minimize.

A thought that entered my consciousness too was how a poor person — poor of the kind that knows true hunger or has virtually no access to social mobility — would view a commodity (like a shirt) that has lasted many years. In my wardrobe I had “home clothes” that were 10 years and older. They were still serving their main purpose preventing the elements from having their way with me but aesthetically they were worn. I happened to love the feel of some of these articles of clothing and wasn’t paying attention to the look. I was in a financial position to care about how they look.

That’s an extrinsically measured viewpoint, not an intrinsic one. It’s a false sense of wealth that allows us to consider having clothing this long a problem. What should be an achievement becomes an issue. We live in a disposable-minded era. Even clothing in good shape that has faded is considered unwearable, at least in some contexts, and those of which I speak I do not see the need for that sort of judgement. After becoming much more conscious about the disparity between intrinsic value and our values, I made my 180 degree change.

Another issue was that while I wore these worn articles at home, I’d always change if I were going into town. Now, I should start by saying that I worked from home and dressed all my professional life in long sleeves, slacks and harders. The change toward my last few years (before the abrupt complete change) was owed, among other things, to the climate changes which saw the island markedly hotter than it had been over many years. Working without air-conditioning wasn’t a problem before but it became one, so I started dressing in this “professional” wear, for meetings more so than generally.

I dressed instead in home clothes on days I worked from home with no plan to face clients. When I had to go into town unplanned or had to meet a client on short notice, I changed my clothes to at the least, be “presentable”. The issue I began to take with this later was the fact that I was fine with what I was wearing at home. If what I was wearing was inappropriate (in my mind), it would have been so even at home, then changing would be because I truly felt it inappropriate; that wasn’t the case. I felt fine at home but changed for the image and that’s not the life I live. Add to this the disillusionment I spoke to first and the many other things I didn’t speak to at all and you get my decision to wear my ragged but personally preferred clothes.

When I began to wear these outside, I was self-conscious. I was concerned about what people would think. I too held thoughts others would later throw at me. I can recall telling a friend of mine who had his hair plaitted that males with plaitted hair was unprofessional. I was, at that point in my life, and at that moment more specifically, the mouthpiece for an unprincipled society. I came to realize how unprincipled we are considering professionalism is not something worn on the outside and this I should have realized sooner because I knew even then that he was professional A1+.

I started wearing tattered clothing to force myself to care less what people thought and made other decisions around that time to fortify my mind for the challenges I’d later mount to the status quo. So here we are… I’m still self conscious but much less so. And to the degree I am, it’s fleeting when it comes.

One thing I think important to add is that the idea of being “presentable” has a dangerous principle that underpins it. If how we are by birth and as we wake daily, is not “presentable” enough, then the self-image issues we try to remedy in workshops are of our own doing. Each and everyone of us is presentable just the way we are. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call for some sort of standard in a workplace; it does, however, mean we respect people’s decisions where they choose to be different and further, where as far as we can tell, they have not changed, if not for the better — as was my contention with my own changes.

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How did you get so brave?

In every moment of everyday all is on the line. The earth can crumble beneath us, the sky can come crashing down. I intentionally put all on the line, knowing very well the consequences of my actions — my personal or professional sacrifices for instance, or my challenges to the status quo. But, the fact that I have all on the line is no different from anyone else. I’m merely intentional with it and face it courageously. Understanding, which is the core tenant of my work, enables me to make the best possible choices I can with the knowledge I have (and I am in constant pursuit of more knowledge and refined understanding).

We behave as though if we don’t think about or speak about what inevitably confronts us, then there is nothing that does. Outsourcing, to chance, our responsibility to create the lives we live, and the idea that we are facing blindly the difficulties that confront us, is naivety. Facing what confronts us naively is not bravery and that’s what makes the difference. Bravery is knowing what one faces, preparing oneself (starting with educating oneself) and facing it valiantly. Why I choose to do this is not so much brave as it is wise. Again, it’s inevitable that we face what confronts us.

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How do you formulate your thoughts so quickly?

Time and practice!

There was once a time I preferred to hear other people’s thoughts (opposing thoughts preferably), analyse and draw conclusions from there than to formulate my own from the get-go. At some point I started preferring to be presented with the subject for thought and to formulate my own perspectives initially, before seeking other viewpoints to challenge my conclusions.

Many persons I knew had such in-depth knowledge about so many things that prior to the turning point where I began formulating my own thoughts from the beginning, I thought myself inferior. It took a long time to appreciate the value in the way I thought. I think a large part of that appreciation came from having someone point out that what I described was an analytical mind and the importance of that kind of thinking.

What I first described — the need for other viewpoints first — was the budding stage of the kind of analytical thinking I’ve developed. All I had then were my experiences and understanding from the inquiries I had done into my own life; the experiences of others; the content of media etc. Reading a few academic works (specifically a sociology text book and papers on areas I had keen interest in), helped to relieve me of my flawed thoughts and it helped to pool the knowledge I had into more tightly knit blocks of knowledge which is what understanding is.

Pursuing understanding habitually; continuously questioning my own conclusions; always giving ear to differences of opinion; and searching for differences of opinion; are some of the things I’ve been doing for years. It has been 10 years since I’ve been on this intentional course to positively affect society through the work I do here. You have to be careful of pursuing your best over that length of time; you just might achieve it ha ha ha.

I’ve come a long way and I’m thankful that I now have a vast body of knowledge and a rich understanding I can quickly and easily employ. There’s more to go so I still employ those strategies mentioned and others. See my Intentional Intrinsic Investment Index (I3) for a little more on those strategies. Note: I will be updating the I3 with more comprehensive information over time.

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What is “social progress”?

Social progress is improvement in intrinsic ways as measured by what is possible with knowledge and resources had, rather than measured against where we were or comparative position.

Two steps forward and one step back is not social progress. Two steps when there could be ten but there is no social will (that includes political), is not progress. This is social development and it is “technically” progress, but it is not social progress as we define it.

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Why try to understand why people do wrong?

Why do people do right? It’s a real overestimation of our own virtue that makes us not see the fact that perpetrators of unimaginable acts are not far removed from us in principle. The many factors that inform our way of being masks the fact that it is no simple choice being “good” or “bad”.

Anyone could commit any act; understanding what informs those who do is the wisest and most compassionate thing we could do. It’s what we’d want for ourselves or our “loved ones” too, no?

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Are you against punishment?

I’m not against punishment i.e. socially-constructed consequences to what we collectively uphold as criminal behaviour. It’s not, for me, a first resort or a long-term fix though. The entire idea of “deterrence” into which it is meant to play a part, is flawed many times over.

Alternatively, to achieve a society with less criminal behaviours as deterrence is meant to do, I advocate understanding. Deterrence is aimed at having individuals stop behaviour without considering what really informs these behaviours. Understanding is aimed at ensuring our efforts to counteract the behaviours in question, are directed at the motivating forces of said behaviours, not just the behaviour which is the outcome of the interactions between those motivating forces.

Imagine, for instance, a scale pan on one side of which there is a weight exerting tremendous force, resulting in the other pan being raised to its extremity. Deterrence is force added to the raised pan wishing it would be sufficient. This is whereas the wisest thing to do would be to understand what kind of force is being exerted on the pan initially spoken of. This means as much a quantitative understanding i.e. how much force, but in more (qualitative) social terms, what type of force. This way, an equal and opposite force can be exerted in counteraction.

Better yet, some of the force on the initial end can be lifted off. Again in social terms, some of the dysfunction that informs criminality can be redressed thus eliminating some of the motivators.

This is my focus. To what extent punishment can be employed for maximum benefit to the individual engaged in the activity, and the society at large, I support it. But punishment then, must be corrective and in practical application, not just in theory.

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Isn’t questioning good things opening a can of worms?

If there is good reason for the “good” we do, then there should be no issue asking questions. The answers may not be obvious since we may act on knowledge we’ve never consciously thought about but if we’re in the right, we shouldn’t fear opening questions.

I’ve often hear the argument that questioning certain things supports (in the mind of perpetrators) their reasoning. I don’t doubt this, but this is a consequence of a dynamic we’ve set up improperly to begin with. If all things were open for question then one thing versus the next being questioned wouldn’t be a problem. We have to start somewhere. The benefit of asking questions about things we’ve accepted is the prospect of actually redressing issues.

Firstly, to understand a problem fully is to understand how to address it.

Secondly, we cannot understand how best to approach social issues whilst denying the parts of ourselves in which these issues reside. A good example of this is the way I’ve come to define deviance. While we see it as a violation of social norms, I see it as a violation of the specific way social norms are acted out. If there is no difference in principle between deviant acts and socially acceptable acts, then we encourage (in principle) the sort of acts we call “deviant” but punish the outcomes of this encouragement when not to our liking or advantage.

See more on my view of deviance at https://beyondtimeless.wordpress.com/subjects/#deviance

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Who is “Company” in Ervin and Company?

Organizations should be the combination of individual capacity to magnify and increase the efficacy of individual effort. Ervin and Company is the work of Ervin Welsh. “Company” is my support system and together we create products, services, and opportunities, for social progress.

See About Ervin and Company page for more on my work.

See Acknowledgements page for my core team and a fraction of the many people who tremendously shaped my way of being.

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How can I help?

There’s the need for:

  1. Financial support
    1. Make A Donation or
    2. See Why Donate? page
  2. Human resource (see below)
  3. Donations in kind

Express an interest in helping via:

There’s much to do but I intend to build this right and being different to what currently exists, means taking time to understand what is the best approach. What type of help avails itself may help me decide what of the work that needs to be done can be undertaken and when, so express an interest if there is one.

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Why don’t you charge for your work?

In brief:

Why No Other Model Works:

  1. The work I do is too important:
    1. To give it anything but my undivided attention as seeking extrinsic reward necessitates.
    2. For my direction to be decided by what will bring me income rather than what’s the most significant thing I can do in the moment.
    3. To limit access to it based on who can afford to pay for it.
    4. My work has benefited too much from, and depends too much on, those outside myself for me to claim my work my “property” and to keep it to myself under the condition I benefit from it directly.

I have a page that expounds on each of the above, see https://beyondtimeless.wordpress.com/why-this-model/

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What Are Donations For?

Donate to satisfy my need for:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Education
  • Inspiration etc.

Donate so I can attend to:

  • My personal responsibilities
  • My Work

See Why Donate page for more.

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Why do you want donations if you don’t charge?

I’ve made the decisions I’ve made having considered the breadth of obvious challenges consequent. One such challenge is that if I believe we aren’t to charge of our work (See It’s not my right to sell what I don’t own. a post about why this is), the fact is that’s the way the world is set up presently and that’s not going to change over night. There has to be a transition, not a sharp change. This change can’t ushered in by striking it rich and giving everybody money or by ceasing to use money all together at a moment’s notice. What can be done immediately is the very best we can but how we define our best is one of our present challenges.

After work investments, after thoughts or uninvested investments won’t cut it. We have to change the way we operate in thought, through to action. This requires the biggest sacrifice we can make and that’s the certainty (i.e. the comfort of the socioeconomic and other frameworks we have faith in.

What this means practically is, for me for example, considering my collection of talents and skills, this means making my work freely available so a very many people can capitalize on them for their own benefit and that of their communities. By making their basic needs a thing they need not worry about (entrepreneurial opportunities considered), they can be better positioned to begin their own transition.

In sacrificing the certainty of my own needs being met for the benefit of as many people as can access my work, I may help 10, maybe 100, perhaps 1000, maybe several digits more. All it takes to keep such an impact running is to support the 1 individual that has put it all on the line intentionally. This is the sort of sacrifice we all need to make in our own ways. If I believe in the ability of this way of being to serve all, I must believe in it’s ability to serve one and I’ve chosen to “put my body where my mouth is”.

I want donations so I can keep going and my work with it.

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Couldn’t you do more good if you sold your work?

There’s always more than meets the eye. Things are as they are because of the way we live; they will only change when we do. If money could fix the world we’d have a smoothly running engine. Until we invest our time and energy — our very lives into change, things will not change. I could “do” more but with or without money I am being the best individual I can be and that’s what social progress needs.

What we “do”, we measure by the eye. How we are being and why we are being it, is immeasurable.

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You should seek grants to fund your work.

Grants are a viable area of funding but since my work is organically unfolding and I need as much flexibility as possible in the way this happens, pursuing grants is not a priority. Perhaps when the occasion suits it or at a later stage in the development of my work grants would be better able to aid.

Additionally, my immediate financial needs are more so personal than project based. What distinguishes the two is more superficial than anything since Ervin and Company is literally a magnification of my work through the team that supports me, but grants (so far as I know) are not designed in a way that would appreciate the virtues of this model. Accordingly, I’ll seek them as need be for their purpose as they define it.

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How do you make money?

I decided to make my work available for free and to rely on voluntary donations (that may or may not come). To be honest, for the near two years (July 2016 – May 2018, as at this writing) that I’ve chosen this path, I’ve had fewer than few donations.

I’ve benefited from the support of a close community of “like-family” and close relatives to meet my responsibilities.

See How I Make Money page to learn more.

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What would you do right now if money wasn’t an issue; if you had endless resources?

I’d be doing exactly what I am doing right now (but with a little less strain on myself)!

If money alone could solve problems, there would be much less such problems in “rich” countries. A CNN commercial conveyed best why this is; I’ve been referencing it since. See my post about it here.

Text from post:

CNN commercial:

“You got the money, you got the passion but how do you make a difference?”

If that question doesn’t wake you up then…

Nobody’s on CNN talking hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And, “you got the money” unlikely means just a few tens of thousands either. Still, the question remains how do you affect change?

People lament on the “how do you make money” part then it comes to what I’m doing. Simple answer: I don’t. But I got plenty answers. If you think money is hard to come by, try understanding.

#cantmakeadifferencewithoutit

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How do you plan to sustain your work?

I’m still trying to figure this out. Ultimately, I do believe work should be freely available so I’m not seeking (financial) sustainability as a priority of any sort i.e. it is not built into my model (learn more about Why This Model). But in terms of the fact that money is still part of the dynamic, I rely on voluntary donations (see Why Donate). I hope to set up myself so that I can easily receive recurring donations e.g. someone or some entity may decide to make a monthly contribution of x amount to me. That takes money I currently do not have so I can be contacted to set up such a recurring payment with the platform I use until then or a one off donation or anytime donation can be made via the Donate Portal.

Additionally, I think this sort of for-progress venture should be the type of work governments support. A government subvention is one of the things I’ve considered. The government is the management arm of the collective society. If the society understands the need for this type of work and for work done in this type of way, then the arm that manages their affairs ought to support it.

Otherwise, voluntary contributions from those who want the work to continue e.g. those who benefit from it through enterprise opportunities we’ve developed like Rhythmic Thoughts. There is no certainty in any of the above possibilities whereas work for pay or charging for my work is the opposite. That is where my answer to this question is far different to the norm and more fickle an answer than ideal but it is what’s necessary for social progress. That considered, what work can be done in the time I can sustain it will be done and no more, certainly not at the cost of the principles that guide my work.

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