I started writing for Wallyhood this past spring when Jordan took off because I valued a Wallingford community site and wanted to explore writing as a creative outlet. I was also hoping to form constructive relationships with the city in getting good things to happen for Wallingford.
Constructive relationships with the city proved impossible, largely because the city no longer has anyone assigned to support neighborhoods. It’s all downtown meetings based on city functions without visits to neighborhoods when making plans. To be successful with advocacy, you must be like the Seattle Bike Blog or the Seattle Transit Blog and have a city function you’re a cheer leader for, then attend all the meetings on that topic. There’s no city function or bureaucrat assigned to “improve Wallingford”.
I also learned in working with the city that as a member of the press you really have two options- push their press releases and get granted access, or get shut out. There’s no such thing as a second tough interview with SDOT. By the time decisions have been made at the neighborhood level, all you can do is fight or roll over, and I’m really more interested in finding win-win solutions than in fighting the city.
As for being a creative outlet, I’ve tried to avoid just writing up the next pancake breakfast at the senior center, although sometimes that happens. Unfortunately, on a purely “what’s interesting to me” level the posts I’ve had the most fun with have been ones like the congestion pricing post that aren’t even neighborhood specific. The posts I’d like to write are on things like bottom up accountability, or how progressivism is at odds with environmentalism, but they really don’t fit the blog. What really interests me is the very big picture, like this other site I put together.
Much thanks to Jordan for being generous and always knowing what to say and how to say it. A lot of people stepped up to help by writing articles or contributing photos over the past year. Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren did some great photography work for us, he’s now a photographer at the Woodland Park Zoo. Daranee Oakley wrote some great posts that shared her personal experiences in the neighborhood with the rest of us. Kimberly, Barb, Doug, and Mike Ruby have all contributed good work. I’ve been very appreciative of comments from people like Donn who were clearly smarter than me and probably should have been writing the articles they were commenting on. Much thanks to all of you who indulged my attempts at writing by reading and writing in response.
P.S: Martin Luther King day is particularly special to us as it is coincidentally the day we adopted our African American daughter. As it’s Martin Luther King Day, here’s something cool he wrote that you may not have seen, where he argues for a guaranteed minimum income. It’s remarkable how prescient the man was.