7 Year Blogaversary Post

2005 seems like a long time ago indeed. I was so young and idealistic! For example, it was on October 10th, 2005 that I started this blog. At first, the idea was basically to have a place where I’d (b)log local development and planning stories. That’s how it continued for a while, a badly written place for me to think through contemporary planning issues I encountered in other media. Approximately 85% of the readership was me coming back to my own site and narcissistically gazing at it, lost in an echo of self-adoration and loathing.

Back then, most of my posts were simple text-only, re-boots of stories from the two dailies or the local freebies. For example, this one ("Strib calls lake lovers a bunch of NIMBYs") about resistance to building height around Lake Calhoun, where I supported restrictions on building height. Or, check out this popular 2005 classic ("Molly Quinn's and the Smoking Ban") about bars, fenestration, and public health scapegoats.

Back then, the best possible thing that could ever happen to the site was to get a link from (now dormant) Mnspeak. My traffic counts would spike to 100/day, and some sort of vitriolic discussion would appear on the Mnspeak boards, usually devolving into a bike v. car or suburbs v. city food fight. Those were the days...

There have been a few turning points since then. At some point, I started writing more personal and less meta- posts. I’ve developed a few blog habits, such as my Highland Villager addiction or photos of abandoned dogs tied to various things. The blog was on life support and in limbo until around about the time of the 2007 bridge collapse, where I got motivated to start writing again.

[I don't have pre-2008 stats, but readership is on the rise.]
Now, I'm old, out of shape, and almost entirely cynical. On the other hand, a bunch of different initiatives have blossomed out of this blog, things like Streets.mn, my work with the St Paul Planning Commission, various bike groups, or connections to the wonderful Twin Cities arts community.

I’m pretty sure that I’m still the most avid reader of this blog, but I appreciate everyone who comes here, comments, or lurks in the corners of the internet.

I don’t really have big plans for the site. I like it how it is, pretty much. Ideally, I’d like to have more regular ‘sidewalk of the week’ features, and continue with the ‘name that sidewalk’ contests.

One of the recurring challenges for being a local sidewalk blogger is maintaining a positive attitude. One of my goals, starting out, was to have an equal balance of positive and negative things to say, a delicate arrangement of criticism and laud. It’s all too easy to become a naysayer, to get fed up with local politics or the inertia of the status quo. This website could quickly devolve into ‘bitter old man’ mode, angry at the world and condemning the clouds. In other words, I could quickly turn into a PRT advocate from Linden Hills.

I don’t want that fate, and neither do you. The challenge is to start seeing, appreciating, and sharing all the reasons why our city can be beautiful. Walking and biking through Twin Cities neighborhoods can be a great pleasure, if you let it grab hold of your attentions. There is beauty all around, from the way that the sunrise glints off the St Paul skyline, to the sound of the Minnehaha Creek waterfall, to a slow-cooking rib smoker parked in a parking lot on a Sunday, to the random punctuations of street life outside a Northeast bar on an autumn evening. There is so much to celebrate, and so many reasons to go outside, walk around, and meet the world around you. This blog has helped me remember to stop and smell the roses, and to take the time to walk to the riverbank and watch the town grow.

That said, here are some post ideas that have lain at the bottom of my TCS.doc word file for years, waiting for me to get up the energy to write them. I fear they’ll never actually come to fruition, which is why I’m willing to share them here:

Crappy Sidewalk Caf├ęs of Snelling Avenue (a recurring featurette, self-explantory)

Useless Plazas of Downtown Minneapolis (similar to the above. I actually took photos of some of these, but it turns out that the decorative useless of many downtown office building plazas is difficult to capture on film)

Possible Sidewalk of the Week ideas include: the rest of 50th street S or perhaps 62nd street (where Minneapolis ends), Lake and Minnehaha, something in Powderhorn Park area (e.g Lake and Bloomington), Minneapolis’s “forgotten neighborhood” (I can’t remember where this is), the “40 acres” of West St Paul, the part of St Paul that is rural back behind point Douglas Road, the top of Northeast, and Robbinsdale!

If you have other good suggestions for a sidewalk of the week, or for a good neighborhoods that needs to be explored, let me know. There’s no hurry. After seven years, I’ve only scratched the surface of the sidewalks of the Twin Cities.

So, happy bloggaversary. Thanks for reading.

[For some reason, most of this blog's traffic comes from Minnesota.]


Anonymous said...

Love the blog, Bill. Don't change a thing.

Anonymous said...

I would really appreciate more nekkid pictures in the future.