WHOSE VOICES YOU HEAR ON BIGPACIFIC.COM
IT WAS A KOOKY KIND OF DREAM
My name is Laurie McConnell, and I'm the founder of Bigpacific.com, est. 1997.
This all started because I had a baby who slept 20 hours a day.
Really, if Annie had not been such a colossal sleeper, leaving me housebound and bored out of my gourd, this entire site - and what has been a way of life for my family for 16 years - may not have come into existence.
With an educational focus on creative writing, journalism, and art history I like to think I was destined for greatness... when in fact I was destined to chronicle the everyday life of the tiny communities of the Sunshine Coast - creatively. First through 15 years working for community newspapers in Sechelt and Gibsons until I was expecting my first child. Bigpacific.com started out with hanging out on newsgroups and academic sites in 1996, though I distinctly remember telling a journalistic coworker that 'this Internet thing is never going to last'.
So many people in the newsgroups thought there was only one 'Sunshine Coast' (you can figure out where the other 4 are) that I set about correcting them by slowly compiling a port online that showed off life on BC's Sunshine Coast. Back then it was all dial-up and modem screeches and it was a total novelty to have pictures on a page and have it organized for visual navigation. Here's a snapshot I saved from 1999.
I had so much fun back then. Most of the businesses I advertised on the site didn't even have email and kept calling to ask how people booking stays found them on the Internet when they didn't know what it was. Some other highlights back then were:Auction of open seats on tour boats and open room nights
1st Online Reservation System on the Coast and the 2nd in BC
A Real Audio station with local artists
Real Player video tour of Coast B&Bs
Visually organized business directory
Live chat, bulletin board, and ad system
Today it's hard to visualize how ahead-of-its-time Bigpacific was for such early days of 'the Web'.
And of course I have had a lot of help over the years, including support from my spouse then and now, contributed writing and photography, and even for a brief period commercial space and a staff of 4 working on Bigpacific.com and web design through my second company, Bad Dog Design. The wordle below shows what it takes to put something like this together over the 15+ years of continuous operation.
Today, Bigpacific.com is re-emerging as an innovator in the development of the Sunshine Coast Community online. We've had an app out in the iTunes store for three years called iSunshine, a mobile version of the site(2006), a Sunshine Coast specific Social/Ning Network (2009), and though I started blogging back in 2000 with the 'Coast Diary', there's a dedicated Wordpress blog at bigpacific.com/sunshinecoastmagazine (2008). Bigpacific.com is active on a wide variety of social media and curates content for a streamlined experience exploring the Coast online without the bumpf!
My spouse, Diane Mueller, is a frequent photographic contributor and active for Bigpacific.com on Twitter, and our younger daughter, Haley, is now an official Bigpacific.com photographer. We continue to collaborate with people and organizations creating content in the wider community.
Revenues come from businesses advertising on the site, most of which you'll find in the online directory as well as via video and graphical ads, from people just like you who run our Sunshine Coast small businesses. If you call the Bigpacific.com office you may also get to talk with my bookkeeper, Monika Melvin of Huckleberry Cottage, who knows Bigpacific.com both as a contractor and as an advertiser.
BIGPACIFIC.COM IN THE COMMUNITY
Through Bigpacific.com and Bad Dog Design, my Sunshine Coast web design company (1997), I've been privileged to play a small role in growing the Sunshine Coast community - along with a great many other equally dedicated individuals. Initiatives and projects include:Co-Founder, Sunshine Coast Bed & Breakfast, Cottage Owners Association
Sunshine Coast Tourism Association 1999 & Tourism Conference co-organizer
Past Board Member, Vancouver Coast & Mountains Tourism Region
Active Supporter, Sunshine Coast Tourism Partnership
Past Director, Sechelt & District Chamber of Commerce
Current Director, Community Futures Sunshine Coast
Pro-bono web development work for a variety of not-for-profit Sunshine Coast organizations