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After almost 12 years of Lakeland Local/Billy Townsend.com, it’s time for another evolution. I’m moving my writing to a very cool, subscription-based service called Substack. It’s essentially Mailchimp + blogging software; but it does something very important for me.
Rather than emailing or texting links to people and saying, “Did you see this?”; rather than just hopefully posting on Facebook and putting myself at mercy of Zuckerbergian algorithms and sharing dynamics; Substack lets you, the reader, subscribe once, via an email address, and then you get everything I write pushed to you. I typically average a couple articles a week — maybe 8-10 per month. So you won’t be overwhelmed by pushes.
Because I’m an essayist, not an aggregator or a daily regular daily producer of content, there has never been a regular rhythm to my publishing. I write when something interests me and when I have time. That makes it hard to build consistent readership consumption patterns. Now I don’t have to. I can’t tell you how exciting that is for me. Delivery has always been the greatest obstacle to influence or public perception, in my opinion. My Facebook sites have thousands of followers/friends. My hope is that all of you will subscribe. And that we can put some distance between us and the toxicity of that platform.
Substack, as a model and platform, also offers me the possibility to get paid for my work at some point in the future if I choose to. I haven’t really thought through how that might work; and I’m primarily focused on building readership to drive influence and productive thought, as I always have been. But we do still live in a capitalist society, even though 62 percent of the people of Florida ordered private capital to cough up more money earlier this week. So we’ll see.
Why Public Enemy Number 1?
You should see a button on this post that allows you to subscribe. Or when you just click on my overall Substack site, https://billytownsend.substack.com, you’ll get this screen. Just enter your email and you’re good to go.
As you can see, I’ll continue writing about public education and Polk County. But I intend to widen my focus back to the times predating my election. I have essentially endless interests. Join me in thinking them through if you want.
And why “Public Enemy Number 1?”
Well, this, of course:
I believe fervently in owning your own insults, especially the flatteringly false and funny ones. Literally everything on that mailer is false and funny and gratifying, in its way.
In truth, I am not “Public Enemy Number 1,” nor am I very important in the ultimate future of our state and country. Forces much greater than anything I can wield are at work. I’ll be exploring that quite a bit, as I did in my last essay:
In the meantime, Public Enemy Number 1 is a pretty cool handle that appeals to my sensibilities in many ways:
Thanks, Chuck Welch, for everything
Finally, the move to Substack marks a sort of psychological techno break from my dear dear friend — and deeply important former Lakelander — Chuck Welch, the creator of Lakeland Local and my long-time enabler.
Chuck has always been my first call when something is weird or awry with the website. And he always takes the call and fixes what has to be fixed. Even today.
He was my first text about the move to Substack. He approves. I appreciate Chuck so much for the dimensions his talents have added to my life. Same for all of you.
Today’s a day for new possibilities. Come hang out with me.
Love your writing style.
Great move. I’m excited to see what you do here. Love your work!