So here I am, back after a brief hiatus, taking Locally Grown News on the road. I’m roadtesting the concept of a “sustainable journalism incubator” at the Journalism That Matters “Reimagining News & Community in the Pacific Northwest in Seattle on January 7-10.

The concept of an incubator morphed from the franchise idea. Why? The goal is to create a collaborative environment, regardless of name. However, the term franchise has lots of legal connotations that were not intended in the original project concept. So the Women’s Community News Franchise has morphed into the rich environment that an incubator can create.

My goal is still the same: Create locally grown owner/operators of hyperlocal online communities. Give them the training and the tools to get started. Provide them with ongoing coaching to be sustainable. Create a community of operators that help each other by sharing their unique talents. Use technology to connect people and affirm the value of place and neighborliness.

A virtual/physical incubator might best service the hyperlocal niche with services, support, planning, development and content. I’m here to recruit beta testers for the Locally Grown News concept and the Pacific Northwest is a great region full of entrepreneurial spirit and folks committed to quality journalism.

In December, I completed several critical tasks:

  1. Legally formed an LLC.
  2. Negotiated contracts with software developers for both the content management system and for mobile-application development.
  3. Found a domain name that reflected our local flavor (can’t resist the metaphors) and the content area that we’ll focus on (more on that later).

So I’ve laid the groundwork and am ready to go. I’ll be sharing ideas and experiments from the Journalism that Matters conference and hopefully bring back some beta testers as well!