For Locally Grown News publisher, ‘passion is the first thing you learn’

Posted on November 01, 2011 by Janet Coats

Sometimes the strongest communities are those that come together over a common concern. In focusing on that area of concern, these networks often find that they can influence the quality of life for the larger community on related topics.

The idea of building networks to help build community is a key part of our work at The Patterson Foundation. We see the opportunities for what is learned in one network to inform others, a process that both helps build better practices and lets us all learn from what doesn’t work.

In today’s post by Kathleen Majorsky, we learn about one “hyper-local, hyper-topical’’ publisher who, in building one community, sees opportunities to help incubate others.

Block by Block is Locally Grown News publisher Michelle Ferrier.

Inspired by Ferrier’s love for gardening and farmers markets, Locally Grown News is an online community that centers around eating locally grown food and living sustainable, healthy lifestyles.

Ferrier calls her site hyper-local/hyper-topical, and hopes that the model she has developed around the site will prove to be scalable in other niche markets and other communities.

“The local food issue really does touch all of those areas [environmental issues, sustainability issues, local commerce issues]. Somebody could basically grow the site starting with local food and then expand to those other areas as they are able to grow their organization. So there was some real thought into this model as it was being developed,” Ferrier says.

In the particular case of a hyper-local/hyper-topical site like Locally Grown News, Ferrier wants to impress upon others that it can be done while holding down a full-time job.

“You can start growing this and as you develop your revenue you can quit your day job and ease into this without having to risk your life, your mortgage, your kids or anything else in the process,” Ferrier says.

In order to reach the scalability Ferrier is aiming for, she says it requires a core team that would take care of the content side, while she would focus on scaling the hyper-local/hyper-topical model.

As she works on scaling the Locally Grown News model, she still is in charge of content, but the community around the local food movement helps her fill in the content she can’t get to.

“I’ve built a network of contacts [Food policy councils, people who are talking about local food, people who are interested in community gardens]. They tend to be the kind of word-of-mouth transmitters that will tell me about what’s going on in the community so I don’t have to be everywhere,” Ferrier says.

It is the passion for the Locally Grown News product that keeps Ferrier going.

“You really have to love being in the community that you are in, really want to serve it with a good quality product and create something that is memorable. Passion is the first thing you learn,” Ferrier says.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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