10th Bloggaversary Post

Saying you've been blogging for 10 years is like bragging about how much money you spend grooming your dog. Apart from narcissism, why would anyone do something so thankless for so long?

So, yeah. Congratulations.

But there it is. I started this blog 10 years ago while I was working a pair of part-time jobs and starting to get interested in urban design and local politics. At the time, it looked different, more of a collection of links with quick commentary than anything else. Much like Twitter today, it was a place to catalog and collect information, as well as a middling exchange of ideas.

The blog tapered off in the early years as I lost and gained interest, especially once I got involved with other things (e.g. graduate school, staring at the cat). But then, when the I-35E I-35W bridge fell into the river, I rebooted the blog and it’s been fairly steady sailing since.

Multiple venues

If this blog is worse than it used to be, it’s a victim of its own success.  I’m writing now for so many places that it can be difficult to keep track of tone. At Minnpost, I’m trying to write straight-up journalism where I call sources and explore a question about our cities. At streets.mn, I’m trying to write data-supported essays that make arguments about policy. On Twitter, I’m trying to forward interesting articles and points of information, gently troll and/or converse, and amuse myself.

That leaves this blog as a place to curate my mostly crappy street photography, re-blog the Highland Villager, make announcements, and post my most personal and/or opinionated writing. That’s how I try to sort it out in my head, anyway. Each of these venues has a distinct audience and format, and I hope both of us can keep it all straight.

[An early picture from 10 years ago. I still find joy in this.]
The key challenges for this blog, as I’ve tried to position it over the years, has been to balance positivity and negativity. I want to avoid being a writer who only rails against the status quo, tells everyone how horrible, misguided, or immoral our cities have become due to this or that infrastructure or policy decision. There’s a lot of that kind of thing out there, but it doesn’t really accomplish much other than galvanizing the already agreeable.

Experiencing our city’s sidewalks aren’t just about getting mad at cars out of control. If it were, there’s be no point, no life left in it.

Rather, city sidewalks are most often alive with joy if you're able to notice it. Walking and biking through Saint Paul and Minneapolis brings discovery, adventure, comfort, solitude, serendipity. Sidewalks are beautiful, one of the few reliable things that bring us closer as strangers.

That’s a message that risks getting lost in the details of any given struggle for equity, but it’s important to remember the joy of sidewalks. I promise to try.

Hopes for the Future

I’m hoping to rekindle this site as a place for sharing positive stories, things like the cast of public characters, unusual everyday doorways, psychogeograhic patterns, and wonder. I’m hoping also to share some of my completed PhD research on the different kinds of urban bicycling and why they matter. And finally, I’m hoping to publish and distribute more Saint Paul flags and other curiosities that I create or come across. Stay tuned.

This is all to say, thanks for reading this bit of internet flotsam. If you can support this decidedly un-lucrative effort with a donation, I’d really appreciate it and will send you a small token of gratitude.

Who knows what the next ten years will bring?

[My favorite of my sidewalk photos.]


Mikesonn said...

Keep on keeping on, Bill.

Carl said...

It was the 35W bridge.

Bill Lindeke said...

of course it was. i need to get out more.