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January 31, 2011

DC Downsizer Strategy: The Short Uphill Roll

Sisyphus was a king, condemned by the gods, to push a huge rock up a mountain, only to see it drawn back down the hill by its own weight. He was doomed to repeat this process for eternity.

Thus, the American Heritage Dictionary defines sisyphean as a labor or task that is endless and unavailing.

Each month organizations you support, like Downsize DC, invest funds and expend resources to grow and continue their operations. Their boulder rolls downhill. So . . .

They make appeals for financial support. They press the stone back towards the peak. That giant piece of rubble must make it to the top, for that summit is their budget.

The mention of this labor is an irritant to supporters. The reminder of this task is arduous to the managers of the group. It is . . .


But there are tactics that can give Sisyphus a break.

Consider that the base of the mountain, where the rock naturally returns and rests, is $0. The precipice represents the budget goal — let’s call it $20,000 (a very modest amount).  

To start from the bottom each month is backbreaking, and as it turns out, unnecessary. If a group of individuals will commit, each month, to pile in some pebbles, they can build a new ridge, shortening the distance from base to peak.

Over time, more and more people can throw in their gravel — their monthly pledges of support — until Sisyphus find his mountain is a molehill.

We call that The Short Uphill Roll.

This is the power of micro, small, medium, and large monthly credit card pledges. These combined deposits are bedrock — a foundation that shortens the distance our organization must push to get the rock back to the top.

But we can take this metaphor one step further . . .
Once we’ve piled our gravel to the top of our current mountain, we will then be free to scale grander ranges.

Bigger budgets can do bigger things.

It is true that standard business school instruction would suggest that new enterprises bury the mountain with the aid of investors — individuals with tons of gravel. However, when you’re challenging the establishment — when you’re outside the mainstream, like we are — it’s often NOT practical to raise an immense capital budget.

Monthly pledgers are the key. Each month, as more stones are laid, all mountains become smaller. Together, regular Americans can help us cover up hulking hills.

The Short Uphill Roll is a realistic strategy for the tiring but necessary work of paying the bills. It’s part of the Downsize DC plan.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Jim Babka. Permission to distribute this blog post for educational purposes is granted, if done with attribution to the author and the Downsize DC Foundation. Permission to use for commercial purposes is denied.

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