By Damien and Rei
VC. Vampire Community. A subculture comprised of people who have a need for blood or energy. Depending on your definition, it also includes donors, otherkin, therians, and weres. No matter which definition you use, the community was built when people came together for teaching and mutual support.
However, there seems to be some confusion lately on just what community means which led to the problems that we have now.
What is Community?
Before we start defining it, let us enumerate WHAT A COMMUNITY IS NOT:
Community does not mean playing detective in secret groups, hunting for information that fellow vampires have said or done in other groups for the purpose of incriminating them; leave that to the cops.
It does not mean having someone, say, on the East coast, imposing their personal views on what people in the Midwest do in their own city and how they should conduct their own affairs.
It does not mean being nosy and feeding drama cause “someone is a murderer”. If he is, turn him into the cops or become an accomplice.
Community does not mean conformity…changing your views and beliefs just to fit in with others or what is popular. Or even forcing conformity from others. That is not true unity, by the way.
It does not mean making new groups or projects just to get your name on it for credit rather than actually helping out others.
But if you look at the current state of the VC, those are what are going on in the so called Vampire Community.
But if these are not what a community should be, and with how everything is, really do have to ask, is there no actual community? Is Nightwalker and Hogg right? Is it just folks fooling themselves?
Do we even remember what a community is?
Is it pictures of vampires covered in blood? Bullying, bullshit and someone trying to sell some books? When did we stop having each others backs, helping others learn, and learning more ourselves?
So, with drama stuff and BS getting more attention than actual information, learning, building ties(not to gossip, but genuine friendship and community ties), where do we go from here?
How does one actually build a community?
Should it be exclusive or not? Who should be included? Vampires, otherkin, donors, therians…what about those who aren’t any of those mentioned? What else should be included? Would we still have new folk afraid to talk? Is it possible for us to create a nice atmosphere that is welcoming, yet also a bit stern on keeping out a lot of bullshit? Should we be focused more on local communities in our own town/city over other things? All very good questions.
We believe a lot of you have your own ideas of how it can be done. For us, it would be like this:
- A place where everyone has a voice.
Currently, the VC seems intimidating to a lot of newcomers, hell, even to long time members, which is pretty ironic considering it was built upon the idea of mutual help. We want to see the Community again be a place where the newly awakened can comfortably seek answers without feeling lost, belittled, or unworthy; where the members are free to speak up and have a say on the goings-on the issues the community faces; to be able to contribute or disagree to an idea.
For there not to have random councils trying to think they can speak for everyone or have weight. But instead, to have something similar to a Town Hall where the most loved elder, and the newest newbie had equal voices.
Community members who belong to Houses would be treated the same as any unaffiliated folk.
- A place of mutual help and support.
To have elders who earned their status of elder-ship, through their work and experience, and are willing to help.
To have folks that care about the local scene and others in the VC help them out with ideas, tips and networking. Where folks ask questions, share knowledge; where articles are written and shared. Where ties of friendship are formed instead of folks bringing each other down. Where people actually look out for each other, not in the drama sense, but where folks work toward betterment, goals, and freedom of information and knowledge.
These are some of the reasons and ideas that went into the creation of The Modern Vampire and Otherkin Forum. To have a place for friendly debate, discussions, explorations of the vampiric and otherkin condition, but instead of just older members speaking out, new ones too can chime in and share their experiences.
How can these be achieved?
BE the change you want to see in the community
With drama mostly taking the center stage in the community currently, the more productive projects get buried and are usually not given attention to. So instead of spreading rumors we hear, or getting involved in inflammatory word wars we can:
a) get the facts first then handle it properly like adults; and/or
b) just ignore it and focus on the positive efforts and projects being done.
Like who cares if someone thinks a Court is “full of strippers.” Does that have any bearing on the great stuff they have accomplished and are doing still? How good an example they, and some other courts, are? That they are really good models to follow for local communities?
Of course not every person or place has the people around, or the manpower, or resources to do such things. But it doesn’t mean they have nothing to contribute. They can still help others, learn, share and network. The article “6 Ways To Be A Leader When It’s not Part of Your Job Title” by Hannah Kane offers some good insights. She enumerated the following things that can be done:
- Make connections
- Allow others to shine
- Improve a system or process
- Be a team player
- Lead by example
- Develop rare expertise
Within the context of the VC, they can be applied in the following manner:
- Make Connections. One can help forge connections between various members of the community. Say, when one vampire comes to you with a question or seeking help for a matter you think you may not have enough knowledge of, you can refer them to someone whom you know is trustworthy and able to be of help.
If you don’t know know whom to refer people to, you can check out our page Vampire and Otherkin Community Links for links in how to get around the community.
- Allow others to shine follows Forum spirit where everyone’s voices are equal. One of the biggest problems that we have that consistently fuel drama are the seemingly endless quest to be the center of the limelight or to be “darker-than-thou”. Instead, we can use this energy to help spread word not only about our own projects but others’ as well, specially if we know that they would help a lot of people or be highly beneficial to the community. What does it matter whose name is on it.
Currently, there are a lot of good projects around that don’t get a lot of attention to. One example is Hesperus’ CLAVIS (Current and Longitudinal Analyses of the Vampire Identifying Subculture). He has, by the way, just released a paper on his second project entitled From Fictional Footnotes To National News (click here for the appendix). It aimed to identify trends in the activity level and thematic focus of the public OVC. Don’t know about you, but Hesperus’ CLAVIS is one of the first SCIENTIFIC LONGITUDINAL study on the Vampire Community we’ve seen that is actually being conducted by one of our own, and we’re excited about it. Go check it out!
- Improve a system or process. The community is not perfect, whether be it the OVC or in the offline VC. Obviously, it’s virtually impossible to overhaul the entirety of it but it doesn’t mean that nothing can be done. Why not work within your areas of influence? If you see a certain need in the community that needs to be filled, or any new ideas, you can either take it up with your local community leader or if you’re unaffiliated, work to implement it yourself. Just like how Donna Michele Fernstrom put up Ask A Real Vampire when she saw the need to have a place where people who have no experience with the VC can interact with its members and ask questions in a friendly environment.
- Be a team player. No man is an island and the VC definitely does not exist in a vacuum. If your House or local community has a feeding program, join them. If you know someone is conducting a project and are in need of manpower and you know you can help, volunteer your efforts. If you don’t have the time for it but have the resources, you can donate or contribute the material. Team
The New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA) by the way has a yearly project of providing food for the homeless three times a year: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you want to help at the feedings or donate, click here and go check out their website.
- Lead by example. You don’t have to be a long time member in the community or to have a title to be a productive member of it. Simply BE the change you want to see in the community. If you wish for the community to be a place of learning, help contribute articles or share them. If you wish for the community to have less drama, then simply don’t add to the BS.
- Develop rare expertise. Never stop seeking ways to improve yourself. Psi-feeder? You can learn how to increase your knowledge in manipulating your energy. Have a passion for writing? Write and contribute to the body of knowledge in the VC, etc. You don’t know whom might need your help later on. Even so, it won’t hurt to benefit from your own growth.
Of course that’s just how I would see it and what I would work towards. But I suppose everyone has an idea of what community means and how it should be achieved. There’s a lot of differences among us but we need to not focus on them so much and not to divide of ourselves, but instead more on embracing those for unique viewpoints from different angles.
As we’ve mentioned, this is just our own view. But we hope that perhaps this piece will help others truly reflect on what they are doing, what they don’t want to promote, and what they are leaving behind.