Kirby Conrod
What is this, a fellowship for ants? Or, micro-fellowships: an introductory proposal What is a micro-fellowship? This is an idea based off of micro-grants and micro-loans; rather than a one-time infusion of start-up cash, however, a fellowship is intended to be a continuing stipend that supports work that contributes to the public good. Currently, platforms like Patreon, Ko-Fi’s subscription service, and Liberapay act to facilitate something very like this; these services are frequently used by artists and creators whose income would otherwise be unpredictable or unsustainable. I am launching this micro-fellowship using the platform Ko-Fi and taking cues from artists; like an artist, an academic’s public-facing work serves to better our society, and we are all enriched by its existence independent of the revenue generated by any individual project. The fellowship’s unofficial, tongue-in-cheek title (the Fellowship for Ants) is a reference to a movie. Just as it is beneficial for artists to be able to tackle projects without first considering pure profit, academics produce content that is for the betterment of everyone and is not always profitable. The goal of the micro-fellowship will be to support otherwise financially-hindered academics in creating content for the public good. What will this micro-fellowship money be paying for? Academics, like many humans living under capitalism, have to pay rent and buy groceries. They also frequently enjoy coffee, and shoes that fit, and going to the dentist. You know, human stuff. Like any stipend (for example, the stipend paid to PhD students), this money goes towards living expenses and any other expenses the fellow has. This money will not go to pay research participants, buy research equipment or resources, or any other directly research-related costs (unless those costs would normally be out-of-pocket for any other academic, too). Who is receiving this micro-fellowship? I am currently setting up this micro-fellowship for myself. My intent is to ultimately not need the extra income - when that time comes, I will use the platform I have to find and support another precarious academic in need of a small cash flow to improve their quality of life. For those of you not already familiar with my work, my name is Kirby Conrod and I have a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Washington, where I currently work as a part-time lecturer. My research is all about the linguistics of pronouns and transgender language, and I am one of very few transgender professional linguists working on these topics. I also prioritize public outreach and spend much of my research time working on sharing linguistics with people outside of academia. Where does the funding for the micro-fellowship come from? Donors like you! My intention of this micro-fellowship is to allow a totally community-based funding source that is independent of my position as a traditional tenure-track professor. Funding comes exclusively from small donors, and the amount of funding is totally dependent on how many people feel like they want to financially support my work. What are the selection criteria for the fellow? There are two ways a person besides myself might become a Fellow of the Fellowship for Ants: I will hopefully some day have a job that pays me enough to make this unnecessary. If at any point I make more than 70% of the median income in my city, what I’ll do is start redistributing the money through this fellowship, either by choosing another fellow or by disbursing the money through #transcrowdfunds and other means. At any point any scholar may declare themself a fellow in the Fellowship for Ants, which means they can set up a patreon or ko-fi or whatever and I’ll probably boost them if their work is cool. If I can afford to, I might chip in to their fellowship myself. Does donating get me any access to exclusive content? No. None of my work will be exclusive or paywalled due to the Fellowship for Ants. If any of my work is paywalled for normal academic reasons, I will do the usual under-the-table dealings within my power to get you some good PDFs if you email me. I love sending people PDFs. The only benefit for you if you choose to donate is that you don’t have to worry as much that I’ll become housing or food-insecure and stop writing papers. If any other fellows take up this fellowship I encourage them to use the same policy. How can I become a supporter of the Fellowship for Ants? You can make one-time donations whenever you like through my Ko-Fi: You can become a recurring donor through my Ko-Fi subscription thingy: TBA Please note, paying for the Ko-Fi gold membership costs me $54 annually in order to allow monthly subscriptions. I will open up the monthly subscription service only after I’ve made enough donations to cover that cost (rather than sacrificing my lunch money on a gamble).

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