I do not actually have an idea about the current trends. But It generally used to be atleast 6 months to 1 year with a continuous incremental content addition along with regular link building.
I believe your site is something which "requires" content to be user generated. Just a plain SEO is not going to help (though it is necessary).
Also your site is not something which people will search on. For example if I am a regular guy, I would not be searching on politics or problems. So I think your site may not be searched and found by users.
Rather if I were you, I would try and do a lot of passive marketing. Some way of letting people know like press releases, trying some slots in radio or TV shows to popularize the concept. There could be a lot more ways, but if some thing like that works out and if people like your concept, it could become popular like twitter or facebook etc., and people will come to your site on a daily basis.
That was just my opinion. May be some other experts will throw more light.