Fishing skills

Former Billings Forge manager uses community building skills he harnessed in Hartford to connect people and businesses in Provincetown

Mike Miller is well known in Hartford as the Director of Special Projects for Billings Forge. Founded in the Frog Hollow neighborhood a dozen years ago, The Kitchen at Billings Forge’s mission was to bring local food to the area and also to provide job training that would help unemployed, homeless residents shelter or recently incarcerated.

He brought that community spirit to his new hometown of Provincetown, where he realized that a website (ptownie.com) and now a magazine (ptownie) were the ideal vehicles to help the area prosper economically and socially.

“Everything I did in Billings Forge applies here. As with all problems in the world, like the poverty I saw in Frog Hollow, there is no quick fix. Everything is connected. People want to come all year round, but they need places to eat and things to do. Provincetown is now a bit busier in the fall, with more shows and restaurants staying open. He begins to realize his potential.

As Director of Communications and Director of Development for Forge City Works & The Mellville Charitable Trust, Miller has found a place he calls “a social enterprise where you can do good work and do good in the world.” I became ‘Mr. Community Building’ for Hartford.

“I was the biggest cheerleader in Hartford, but it was so hard,” Miller said. “I loved Billings Forge. I cried like a baby when I left there. It was all about helping each other out.”

One thing he tried to do in Hartford was bring together like-minded local businesses. Now it’s a skill he uses in Provincetown.

After befriending a ferry pilot, Miller urged a local cafe, bakery, brewery and winery to promote their wares on his boat tours.

“Everyone benefits and it costs us nothing.”

The magazine is distributed free of charge and supported by paid advertising.

“Each year we will try to tackle a different industry that we can help,” says Miller. “This year, it’s the art galleries. Next year it will be hostels and bed and breakfasts.

Prior to moving to Hartford, Miller held the highest levels of the magazine industry, serving as an associate editor at Time Inc. “I never thought I would return to publishing or magazine. I thought it was behind me.

Miller used those skills to create the website and magazine to remind people that Provincetown isn’t just a summer destination.

“These towns rely on four months of the year to make their entire bankroll for the year. ptownie’s mission is to make Provincetown a nine-month destination,” says Miller.

It’s just a matter of perception, he insists. The area already has a number of fall and winter events worth checking out, such as the Washashore Music and Arts Festival in October.

“January, February and March will always be a challenge,” Miller admits, “but it’s possible to have year-round streams of income. In Provincetown, you can shop and buy things you won’t find anywhere. elsewhere – different and original things. We have some really interesting businesses.

Miller says ptownie magazine is already making a difference.

“I have a friend who runs the Womencraft feminist bookstore here in town. Last year, on International Women’s Day, I heard her talk about how women stood up at the start of the AIDS crisis. I wanted to post about it, but there was almost nothing about it. So I commissioned an article on women during the AIDS crisis, which contains a lot of original research.

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“Yes, we cover fashion, events and the wonderful and original things in the region, but there are also things that I find really important. You can’t throw a stone in Provincetown without coming across an interesting story.

Besides the fast-growing magazine and ptownie.com, there is also a ptownie newsletter offering ‘stories of history’ about the small Portuguese fishing village that has become an international tourist destination. The newsletter offers recommendations for upcoming events.

“Yeah, it’s a four-hour drive from Hartford,” Miller says, “but there’s nothing else like it in the world.”

Christopher Arnott can be reached at carnott@courant.com,.