Crossing the Chinvat Bridge

A crowdfunder for Dark Mountain

Due to the death of a beloved colleague, this has been a difficult year for Dark Mountain. We are asking for your support with a Just Giving crowdfunding campaign to help keep the project running as we adapt to new circumstances.
Death is often described as a bridge that each of us must step across. But after the death of a loved one, the living must also cross a bridge, one that leads to a new territory created by loss. The sudden and unexpected death of our colleague, Mark Watson, has been a blow to all of us involved with the Dark Mountain Project. He was our distribution and subscriptions manager, and more than that, he was a key figure behind the scenes, holding the heart and soul of the enterprise, a dear friend, and the life partner of our co-director Charlotte Du Cann – who has written about his death here.

In Zoroastrian tradition, the bridge that the dead must cross is called the Chinvat Bridge, which is guarded by two four-eyed dogs – comparable to Cerberus from Greek myth. The Chinvat Bridge, goes the belief, sifts souls. If you’ve lived a life of generosity and good will, then the bridge will widen and allow you to pass over easily. If you’ve been selfish and mean of spirit, then the bridge will narrow until it’s as thin as a blade, and you’ll find yourself plummeting into the jaws of demons. After Mark’s death, many people have remarked that he was one of the kindest people they’ve known – the Chinvat Bridge will have widened before him and, knowing Mark, he will have danced his way across. Waiting on the other side of the bridge, it’s said, sits the Garo Demana, or ‘House of Song’. Given his love of singing – Latin American folk ballads being a particular favourite  – Mark will have been made most welcome there.

Meanwhile, those of us left behind miss him terribly, and crossing into this new territory of loss has been difficult, both personally and practically. Small projects are vulnerable to the loss of a crucial team member, and they rarely have the resources for organised transitions, for recruitment and training, for ‘crisis management’. In addition to this, Mark’s death has come at a turbulent time for Dark Mountain – the continuing impacts of Brexit (with postage to our EU subscribers mired in red tape and extra costs) as well as the rising prices of paper, postage and printing are a harsh reality that will be familiar to many small publishers.

Small projects are vulnerable to the loss of a crucial team member, and they rarely have the resources for ‘crisis management’

The collective who run Dark Mountain are writers, artists and musicians who have learned to become administrators, book packers and social media promoters. We’ve done so because the project matters to us, because the desire to create beautiful, meaningful books – books that speak to this time of unravelling – outweighs the precarity of our finances. For now, we remain committed to the work, steadfastly holding to the notion that there’s more to life than profit margins, and an editorial team is already in place to begin shaping our next anthology, Dark Ocean, which will be published in the autumn.

 

Nick Hunt, Ava Osbiston, Charlotte Du Cann (in red stockings) and Dougie Strang packing copies of the latest issue at the Dark Mountain depot

But right now, we need some help. Dark Mountain receives no outside funding or advertising revenue. Our income is generated through book sales, subscriptions and, occasionally, when we need a little extra help, from crowdfunding campaigns such as the one we’ve set up on Just Giving. The money we raise from this campaign will be used to alleviate the financial strain on the project as we begin to negotiate life and work without Mark. Specifically, it will ensure that there are funds in place to publish the books we have in the pipeline, to restructure our financial model to adapt to new economic realities, and to cover additional costs as we reconfigure the day-to-day running of the project.

If you’ve read our books or website, attended our events, forged friendships or collaborations through our network – if Dark Mountain matters to you – then we’d be grateful for any contribution you can make.

 

The link to the crowdfunding page is here.

Many thanks for your help.

 

 

Image: Bruce Hooke
Stepping Out
The Art Farm, Marquette, Nebraska, USA
Striding along, expecting the road to stay solid below him, the man in the suit steps out, into the unknown. About to fall, he will crash to the hard, fertile earth. The eleborate plans in his briefcase scatter in the wind. By taking on the role of the man in the suit and photographing myself I seek to explore issues of power, authority and privilege.

 

Dark Mountain: Issue 25

Our Spring 2024 issue is an anthology of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, interviews and artwork inspired by the struggle for land rights, and by the living land itself.

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