Suffice it to say that it’s been a remarkable 24 hours. Early Sunday, I was informed that a charity raffle had been started in my name . I was absolutely touched to see the outpouring of support coming from the community. Koala-T asked how it made me feel. Up until that point, I had been wrapping up the Meowcap V3 orders and was intent on getting all of our packages out by the end of the week. She knew my silence meant introspection and allowed me the space to come to terms with what had happened.
Growing up, my family moved a lot. Having to say goodbye to friends will condition most people to believe that there is no permanence in friendships/relationships. I learned, over the years, the importance of accepting the ephemeral nature of these bonds. Fortunately, I had the privilege of meeting someone to help me come to terms with my hang-ups. Next month, Koala-T and I will be celebrating our fifth year of being together.
In many ways, the mech community has been an anchor for me as well. Though I only started participating in 2014, I still consider myself a fairly new member of the community. In that time, I’ve had the honor to meet some of the most genuine and kind people. I’m truly blessed to call these people my friends. And though I’ve never met most of them, it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. Life has a tendency to take unexpected turns but this hobby and its community has kept me grounded and reminded me that not all bonds are temporary.
Behind the Curtain
I admit that it’s difficult to discuss personal matters with others. I’m a firm believer that the work should speak for itself. And though all art that we create contains a part of us, it should be the extent of what we put out there. As such, there are only a handful of people that are aware of our personal matters and we try to keep details to a minimum.
As an artisan, there is an understanding that we relinquish aspects of our private life. Whether you’re a fan or not, makers of the community must accept that they may be perceived as public figures. Given the nature of this campaign, my desire for anonymity must take a backseat to make way for transparency.
Late last year, I was involved in a car accident. Though the other driver was found at fault, I was left without a means of transportation and having to pay a significant deductible. Despite being compensated by the other driver’s insurance eventually, the car was to be totaled and was appraised for much less than anticipated.
It’s funny how unfortunate incidents can set off a chain reaction. The financial strain of the accident left me in a tenuous situation as property taxes loomed in the horizon. As the caretaker of my mother’s assets (while she is overseas), I was tasked to resolve an unexpected lawsuit in February. The addition of pet issues and an insurmountable debt to the IRS further compounded the burdens I was already shouldering. I guess when it rains, it pours.
It was around this time that I felt myself withdraw from the community. Making artisans no longer brought me joy. I felt a sense of helplessness and didn’t want to face the public. I felt guilt for not being passionate about art anymore. That guilt turned to resentment. That resentment became numbness.
Sensing that I was slipping into depression, Koala-T took it upon herself to begin working on MeowCaps V3. She knew that no amount of talking would help pull myself out of the depths. She did the only thing she could do to help. She took the reins of KeyKollectiv hoping to help financially and perhaps show me that it was something worth salvaging.
Watching the community response to MeowCaps was heartwarming. Koala-T’s perseverance reminded me of the trials and tribulations that we had already overcome. It gave me a glimmer of hope and helped me remember what it felt like to be passionate about something. As she’s done for me many times before, Koala-T gave me the strength to carry on. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Naturally, our friends were worried during our absence. Reluctantly, I told a few of them what had transpired. They expressed their concern and offered their support in anyway possible. Have you ever had friends who stuck around through thick and thin? The kind you could come back to and pick things up as if you never left at all? That’s what it felt like. I felt like I was coming home.
One of us
Whether you lurk in the shadows or you run group buys, we are all an integral part of the community. Makers and group buys would be nothing without the people supporting them. In many ways, it is the general population (not the makers) who determine the landscape of this community. After all, even the most talented artisans are nameless without the patronage of their fans. This is a truth that I’ve held near to my heart. Hell, it wasn’t that long ago when I quietly admired keyboard photos. The days that I would typed out a response on a Reddit or GeekHack thread just to delete it in fear of judgement.
But what is true for me may not align with how the community perceives contributors. It’s common to see our peers hold artisans in high regard. Why not? We admire their work. Often times, when we elevate certain individuals, we perpetuate this sense of classism. At worst, it becomes divisive. After having witnessed this on numerous occasions, we believe that we (as community members) should never lose sight of our personal contributions to what makes this hobby flourish.
KeyKollectiv is fortunate enough to have had the privilege of leaving an impact on the people around us. Without you, there is no us. Not a day passes that we don’t recognize that our involvement in the community would not exist if it weren’t for the numerous fans and friends we have made along the way. With that said, I strongly believe that KeyKollectiv is no exception. There are numerous members of the community who are in need of help. We’ve donated, on many occasions, to those who are much less fortunate than us. People who had to say goodbye to the community just to stay afloat. Those who dedicated countless hours and money to meticulously curate their collections just to sell it all in times of need. Those who are not nearly as lucky as we have been or have the luxury of selling something they create.
We are beyond grateful for the overwhelming love and support from the community. It is out of this mutual admiration, that we must respectfully decline the proceeds from this raffle. We understand that a lot of time and effort was put into organizing this event and we are truly honored and touched by this gesture. This community is a better place because of people like you. And it is people like you that bring us back in our darkest times. I would like to see donations returned to their owners or given to others who are less fortunate. And if it is the will of the organizers to continue, we would be elated to donate the money to an established charity or invest in a project (like meetups) that will make the mech community a better place.
If you truly feel compelled to help KeyKollectiv, your support is the only form of currency we accept. All we can hope is for you to extend your kindness to others. Share that rarely-used cap with the guy/girl who is too afraid to ask. He/she might, one day, come to the conclusion that this is a place worth coming back to. Who knows, he/she might just end up being a person you could call your friend. Someone who will be there to support you in your endeavors.
Kudos & Godspeed