“Mario, I F-cking Hate You.” How To Build Community

It started when Davy found a note that someone mistakenly put on his car. The note said, “Mario, I f-cking hate you. You said you had to work. Then why’s your car HERE at HER place?? You’re a f-cking LIAR. I hate you I fucking hate you. –Amber PS page me later.” (See the note.)

Since then, Davy’s been combining what he and his community find into FOUND Magazine, a community art project. Since the project couldn’t exist without the community, I knew Davy could teach me how to build an online community.

Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart

FOUND Magazine

Davy Rothbart co-created FOUND Magazine, an online collection of found stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, doodles– anything that gives a glimpse into someone else’s life. Anything goes.

A few lessons from this program

Here are a few things Davy taught me. (Listen to the interview to hear more.)

Get out of your house – I tend to think of building communities as something that happens remotely. But Davy built his community by touring–and meeting people in person. Organizing a tour was one of the first things he did when he started. At first, only 4 to 12 people might show up for a reading, but now his audiences are in the hundreds.

The cycle of life – Communities thrive on a giving cycle. At FOUND Magazine, the community sends Davy what it finds. Then he posts what they send him. And that encourages others to send him more finds.

Email is still important – Davy keeps building up his email list. He says that his friends’ bands are often reluctant to ask people to join their mailing list, but he actively asks people to join because he knows how powerful a good list can be.

Ask – Davy is about to go on a European tour with FOUND Magazine. He can plan it remotely because he asks for and gets support from his community.

Where’s the profit – While he says he doesn’t want to profit from his community, Davy gets other benefits because of his community. Because of the growing “FOUND Magazine family” this book of his stories got published. He also got to be a guest on Letterman, travel the world and other benefits.

What can you teach us about building a community?

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.