August 20, 2001
I went to the bathroom this morning and took some pictures of myself,
wearing the sweater my daughter bought me the other day from Old Navy. I
look like a Ninja Turtle, I'm told. But there's no time to "look good".
I'm in a rush, as usual. It's 20 past 2 already. I've barely started working
on Monday's content, and I'm only just about to start writing something
important, and serious, for a change.
I need your help.
I started iranian.com six years ago this month. I realized there was
a huge population out there, waiting to be heard, looking for something
to read, something that directly relates to their lives, with their own
set of special circumstances.
These are largely Iranians who have lived outside Iran for a decade or
more. They don't consider America, Europe or Australia their "home".
They are sentimental and nostalgic about Iran. They know full well what
they have lost. They may not easily admit it, but in return, they have gained
freedom and security. Not exactly a fair or satisfying trade, but...
There are also those who have lived abroad most of their lives, or were
born outside Iran. They aren't exactly Iranian, but they are curious about
Iran. Or they want to know more about the rich culture of their parents.
Or they want to understand what Iran is all about, so that they can tell
their friends that Iran is more than what you see on TV.
Based on letters and articles I receive, there is an important third
group. These are Iranians of no particular age group, background or nationality.
Some are in Iran, some out. All they are looking for is an opportunity to
express themselves. As simple as that. They have a story to tell, a memory
to recall, an experience to share, an opinion to express. Something they
have been holding inside, waiting for someone to listen. Someplace where
they would not be questioned or harassed or threatened for who they are
or what they think or what they do or what they say.
I identify with all of them and I do my best to provide a free, secure
space of their own. According to my last count, about 500
different people have articles or art work in iranian.com. And of course
many of you are familiar with the feature
writers (those who have five or more features). Some are scholars, professional
writers, diplomats, artists, and human rights activists. But most are ordinary
people, with an extraordinary heart. (For the record, Bahar
Jaberi and Omid Peyrow,
were the very first contributors.)
So, every month more than 100,000 people ("uniques" in Internet
speak) visit Iranian.com to read their articles and view their work. They
come not because they know what to expect. They come because they'll often see
something different; something that's not necessarily from their perspective.
But no matter how different or odd or shocking, the features in iranian.com
are a reflection of who we are, good, bad, left, right, and lots in between.
Naturally, I'm proud of this site of mine. (I got a letter a couple of
months ago saying iranian.com no longer belongs to me -- it belongs to its
readers. I still think about it.) It's the best thing I've ever done. Best
in the sense of pure personal enjoyment. I can't imagine doing anything
else. I don't WANT to do anything else.
But as much as iranian.com has been successful as a journalistic exercise,
and personally exhilarating, the financial side has been a struggle. That's
not because the American economy has slowed down or that the Internet is
not the gold mine people thought it would be.
Cultural activities usually require more than direct sales and advertising
to generate revenue. In the past five months (since I quit my part-time
job in April) advertising income has been about $6,000. Plus there's been
ecommerce revenues of less than $200 (amazon.com affiliate sales commission).
That's it. You do the math.
So I'm asking for your help.
I have begun a fundraising drive which will lead up to iranian.com's
6th anniversary event in Berkeley on October 6th. If you cannot come
to the event itself, I want you to seriously consider making a donation. The goal is to raise
$50,000 (donations, event ticket sales, advertising and ecommerce) for the
next 12 months.
If you read iranian.com regularly, if you believe in what it has done
for all of us, if you want this site to represent us the way we deserve,
don't hesitate. Make a donation with your credit card right
here. Or consider becoming a sponsor (email
Thank you -- for everything.