Why did I start my blog ‘Pigs Will Fly: The Can Do Community’?
In the 90’s I spent 10 years living in country Victoria involved in regional tourism. I fell in love with the energy, enthusiasm and preparedness of country communities— small business owners, park rangers, council officers, community members — to work together on tourism promotion or local tourism product development.
Developing Awareness Of Problems
I became aware of a disconnect between small business advice bureaucrats and their target market — small business proprietors. The only successful program— Business Advice Rural Australia, which employed a business adviser actually visiting small businesses, building a rapport, identifying problems faced, or information needed, and helping out — was axed and replaced by impersonal glossy brochures about business plans.
Public-Private Sector Collaboration
Hating to see community/small business endeavours wasted, I went on to research how to optimise the relationship between the public and private sectors in sustainable regional tourism development — essentially community development. A key element was community-based policy-making or participatory democracy.
Pigs Will Fly – Self Help
Clearly communities and small businesses learn from each other. The idea behind ‘Pigs Will Fly: The Can-Do Community’ was to get people around Australia talking…about their business ventures, about community projects…a self-help forum for sustainable development, sharing helpful information and success stories Australia-wide.
Initially I emailed out fortnightly headlines of my blog posts to around 1800 at one point, indicating which articles were attracting readers. This proved popular and I considered using the practice as a model for local government to engage with their communities.
What Have I Learned So Far From My Blog?
- There is little reported in mainstream media about grassroots achievement (hence the name ‘Pigs WILL Fly’).
- People enjoy and learn from small business and community project stories, much more so than glossy brochures, in my experience.
- A lot of public servants read PWF articles..a good tool with which to engage small business owners and community groups, I believe.
Has the need changed since you started the blog?
Unfortunately the need hasn’t changed. There is still a need for genuine (not tokenism) public-private sector collaboration and for policy-makers to listen to grassroots needs and concerns. A two-way information exchange is vital for successful policy-making and implementation. This does not happen.
Transparency Is Desirable
Transparency in all things would be greatly appreciated by Australians and would ultimately improve trust in political parties and bureaucrats.
Pigs Will Fly is evolving to focus on communities and small business in Victoria’s northeast.