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A forum that works

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It's interesting.
For the last several days there has been a fairly intense discussion about the BCAC's stable funding initiative on the COABC listserve. Lots of comments. Lots of questions. Lots of discourse...real discourse where perspectives are respectfully shared, frustrations aired, skepticisms exposed, doubts expressed.
What does this tell us?
It says that a discussion forum has a great deal of potential, and among at least one type of farmer, it is sought, and in many ways needed.
In contrast, this BC FARM Knowledge Network forum is more or less asleep. I'm not sure why.
Now, about 6 months into the one year life expectancy of this pilot project, we have about 100 registered members, but next to no contributors or regular visitors.
The COABC discussion forum has been in existence for a while. I'm not sure how long, but it has an established and regular group of participants. It uses a listserve format, which is a more dated format than this discussion form and, in many ways considered to be an outdated approach to networking. On it, a COABC extension agent offers regular news about organic matters and responds to queries. Users frequently air issues concerning their approach to agriculture, the concerns about the use of GMO's, ALR, trade policies, government.
As the site administrator, I'd be very interested to learn why it is that this site is getting very little use when it is so obviously needed.

In about 6 months time, when this pilot project ends, I anticipate the control of this program will come under the wing of the BCAC. The BCAC recognizes, as do many within the farm community, the need for better ongoing communications mechanisms. The time has come for registered members input into what can make this forum better and more attractive so that when the time comes, if a redesign is necessary, it can be redesigned according to member wishes.

Please, offer your input.
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  1. DNPollock -
    DNPollock's Avatar
    I too want this forum to succeed. For several years, when I was a director of the Island Farmers' Alliance I pushed hard for a better communications strategy. In the year since I left the board, the initiative seems to have foundered.
    Perhaps many people like me are reluctant to air their opinions in a public way. When I have done so, through ,say, a letter to the editor, in a local newspaper, I have felt that my comments were well received, so we really have nothing to fear by being controversial. Perhaps my reluctance to participate is based in my ignorance of all the agencies , organizations, and individuals who are the apparent movers and shakers in agriculture. The old adage "Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and prove it beyond doubt".
    Like other forums I have been involved in, it takes time for newcomers to learn who is who and feel confident enough to speak. That's where I am at the moment. dp