When this column started, I had just a few pretty simple intentions:
1 — To be transparent about how Gippslandia operates and functions; after all, we’re not competing with anyone.
2 — To hopefully encourage others to engage with us or feel supported in pursuing their own passion projects. Heck, if we can make it to 19 copies, imagine what you could do?!
3 — To include you on our journey. As a not-for-profit community paper, it’s your publication. So, while we might hold the responsibility of keeping it alive, your part is just as important.
I think we’ve done the final part pretty well. To be fair, when I look back on all that we’ve achieved, it’s often the big projects that have gained my affection (they were the squeaky wheels). Projects like raising funds to get Vili a dog, the Book Of Life cookbook, the skateboard design competition with Gippsland Art Gallery, the Meaningful Post campaign and supporting Gippsland Emergency Relief, as well as our support of several Gippsland Community Leadership Program initiatives. The list goes on...
“...showcasing works of nearly 100 talented people.”
Yet, right under our eye, we miss the obvious. It’s the voice we’ve given through the stories we’ve told about everyday people doing extraordinary things, our beautiful places and our well-crafted products. Through 19 editions, we’ve developed over 500 stories spanning more than 600,000 words, showcasing the works of nearly 100 talented people. To sum it up, we’ve grabbed a pretty damn big spotlight and we’ve shone it in our region. As a result, I feel people are beginning to see the Gippsland that we could see all along.
When we talk about bringing you on the journey and your ownership of this publication, those successes are yours to share. The truth about business is that it’s often one step forward and two steps backwards. There’s no dessert without dinner. There’s no success without failure.
Twelve months ago, we embarked on a journey to build a sustainable Gippslandia business model. In theory, the model was sound. It included launching an online store that features our region’s brilliant creatives — helping them whilst helping us. It looked at building our subscriber base, a membership model and making adjustments to our advertising model. The aims were quite humble: to make enough money to pay the people we need in order to keep this fire burning.
To implement this business model we built a great team. Rowenna Dunn looking after our partnerships, her partner Alyson chipped in and helped out with the online store and Lacey Yeomans has done a great job with our online presence and social media. They’ve had to work together at a time when ‘together’ wasn’t an option. They’ve had to think on their feet and adapt to the constantly changing environment for us, our partners, our distributors and our readers. They’re a brilliant team.
Sadly, we’ve been unable to reach our targets. Fallen short or to use a blunt, but accurate, term — failed. Now as a team, we’ll be forced to scale back, regroup and reconsider our future.
We’re not alone; many of the businesses and people we’re close to have done it really tough in the past few months, probably more so after the Covid lockdowns. People are exhausted, we’re feeling that ourselves.
“How much does passion cost?”
Last quarter, I shared with you the crossroads that Gippslandia seems to be headed towards. The crossroads are here. At this stage, we see three options going forwards:
1 — Scale Back: Just get back to the core business of running the publication and giving you the stories you love to read.
2 — Push on: Back ourselves, try to find funding, partnerships and resources to continue doing the projects and community initiatives that the Gippslandian team have come to love. Essentially, creating positive stories, not just sharing them.
3 — Wrap up: Pick a date in the future, discuss with our stakeholders and print our last edition.
They’re all real outcomes, some more preferable than others. Ultimately, it’s the leadership of Gippslandia that needs to assess all options and make a decision.
To look out to the horizon, we’re currently distributing more copies than ever before, which are disappearing into readers’ hands faster and the amount of emails (and occasional handwritten letter) we’re receiving in support of Gippslandia has been overwhelming.
The need couldn’t be greater. But how much does passion cost?
We’ll keep you posted.
If there is something in particular that you wish to know or discuss, please get in touch and I’ll either address it here in a future column or via email at