The way you do things doesn’t reflect that you actually understand the problem and, as a result, you keep working alone.
Don’t confuse their package approval policy with the build time - which is just as fast for them as well. Their 3 branches (stable, testing and unstable) are there for a reason and they serve their purpose. But no one forces you to contribute directly to Debian for the benefit of the Elive users. You can use a private repository for the Elive packages, do some apt pinning where strictly necessary, and do regular packaging that others understand, so you don’t have to explain “how”.
As for contributing in general, if there’s something you do better in an existing packaged software, you might as well contribute to the original project and once your changes are approved everyone will benefit from your work, and you won’t have to repeat those changes every time the original software gets updated.
Various distros offer documentation for developers. It’s how they let them know how to do stuff correctly. And when you don’t have the time to explain things, the least you can do is to do stuff like others do it, so the contributors don’t have to guess anything, or at least if they ask for help you can give them a link to an existing documentation because someone else made the effort of writing it.
Management is not all about managing people. They can manage themselves most of the time. What Elive is missing is a clear and documented direction that the people can understand and contribute based on it.
A lot of what you chose to do with Elive is non-standard, and there’s no documentation on what’s needed for the next Elive version. This means people don’t know which software to contribute to, nor how the software interacts with other software in Elive, so this makes it virtually impossible for them to properly tackle existing issues. As for new features, with no plan laying around how can anyone know what’s on your mind, so they can work without wasting their time on features you don’t want or care about? If you don’t want to waste your time, why do you think others want that?
Anyway, it’s you project and your time. Good luck.