It’s clear to me how much hard work was done in 2010. Freelancers worked hard to get gigs in a tough economy, our member leaders worked hard to mobilize other members and push for policy change, and we worked hard to use your feedback and suggestions to guide our work. And we want to do even more of that in 2011. This year, we’re planning to integrate all of that hard work so that we can stay connected to you and you can stay connected to each other. We know that freelancers do best when they are linked to other freelancers. It’s how you get work, stay on top of your field, collaborate with partners, and stay sane after many hours toiling away at your desk. But staying connected does more than just help your individual career and mental health. It also enables freelancers overall to become a more powerful constituency and get their needs met. But we can’t do it alone—we need your input and involvement. This big idea of connectivity is what we call new mutualism. New mutualism is a community of people with shared interests, the realization that we are much stronger as a group than as individuals, and the understanding that we can form our own cooperative model to meet our needs—while still maintaining our independence and individuality. What binds us is the shared need for protections, supports, and a voice for the independent workforce. Together, we realize that companies and government are not providing what we need, and we have to create a new social support system that works for independent workers. We must join together and use the resources and power that exist in our group to get our health insurance, retirement, education, and training. Mutualism will be a key part of the strategy to help us reach our 2011 goals, particularly because we are at a huge moment of change in this country. The entire U.S. economy is shifting from industrial-based to information-based, and independent workers are now 1/3 of the country’s workforce. Many people lack the economic security that previous generations took for granted, and we’re told that we won’t do as well as our parents did. In the current economy, even the most educated and talented among us struggle to find work. But while we’re facing significant challenges, we also have opportunities to create innovative and entrepreneurial solutions. In future blog posts and issues of The Buzz, I’ll be communicating more about new mutualism and how it impacts our 2011 initiatives. You’ll be hearing from us about our innovative explorations in health care to bring affordable, stable, long-term health insurance to freelancers; our advocacy initiatives to use our strength in numbers to enhance our political voice; and our efforts to build a community where freelancers can stay connected to one another. We’re excited about the year ahead, and our ability to continue working with a talented, supportive, and dedicated membership. In solidarity, sara_signature_small.jpg Sara