Did you know that the Dictionary of American Regional English says that southern Indiana has the best pitch-in dinners of any part of the country east of the Rocky Mountains?
Now, in truth, the dictionary brags on our region only in a round-about way. The book actually says that most of the country used the phrase ‘potluck’ to describe a meal where various folks come together with all or most of them bringing some food they intend to share. But Southern Indiana (and parts of Montana) call these meals ‘pitch-ins’. So when you look for the best pitch-ins in the eastern US, you have to look in Southern Indiana.
I think using the phrase pitch-in instead of potluck really reveals something about the character of our southern Indiana culture and communities. To ‘pitch-in’ implies that a person is thoughtfully making an effort to bring something of value, to add their own efforts. In contrast, ‘pot-luck’ sounds like a person is just bringing any old thing that happens to be available — ‘pot-luck’ is more of a take-it-or-leave-it mentality.
Here in southern Indiana, people do have a pitch-in mentality. Whole communities of residents are interested in supporting each other in thoughtful ways. Especially this Spring, as we’re learning the meaning of pandemic and social distancing, Hoosiers in the Radius region and other parts of southern Indiana are pitching-in to support and help one another. The collective heart of the culture here is not about giving potluck; it’s about making an effort to offer value.
In the economic development field, communities and their leaders in the Radius region have also shown a tendency to want to pitch-in to support economic development. Our community leaders recognize that a successful economic development efforts doesn’t rely on just one person or one office carrying the load. We know that success in economic development means that elected officials, property owners, infrastructure providers, educators, and others must work together.
There are many successful examples of communities putting together teams of leaders who each pitch-in their expertise and abilities to help the businesses in the region. That means helping existing businesses as well as working to recruit and settle new businesses. While a city or town may install the sewer line, a utility will provide the broadband, while an accountant will help set up needed account systems, a banker will establish lines of credit, and the local school system will enroll student interns. It’s not potluck – it’s an intentional pitch-in.
Radius is supporting the southern Indiana pitch-in culture by helping our local leaders learn more about what role they can offer. We now hold an annual leadership training program that gives direction, information, and model solutions to community leaders so that they understand what their community needs to succeed in economic development.
When we hold our fourth economic development training program later this year, we will surpass one hundred attendees. That will be one hundred leaders in southern Indiana who will be a little better prepared to practice the southern Indiana tradition of pitching-in.