It’s a little over a year since this blog launched in late summer of 2012, so a good time to assess where it’s been and where it might be going.
The Original Idea, and the First Year
Having been writing about gardening and nothing but gardening for since 2006 I was looking for a change. I’d just moved here, so writing a blog about Greenbelt seemed like a fun way to get to know the town and the people. And though I d0 occasionally write for the News Review and gardening magazine, I much prefer the Internet for lots of reasons – the ability to link away to expand the story, to correct mistakes at any time, to have reader comments, to embed videos, to use unlimited color photos and have unlimited space, and to do it all myself.
So, this blog! I saw it as a vehicle that could be used by anyone in Greenbelt for almost any purpose, as long as it stayed decent and respectful. No need for advertising, because there are no expenses. The more contributors, the better. So I contacted lots of people, and in the first year published articles (called “posts” in the blog world) from three terrific contributors: Kim Rush-Lynch, Chelsea Calhoun and Kristin Fletcher. (Bios here.)
The arts and entertainment community immediately saw the potential for Greenbelt Live to help promote events, and actually suggested the Going out in Greenbelt weekly round-up of events that I publish every Friday. I’ve expanded that to now include interesting talks, bird walks or any fun event open to the public — but NOT meetings. Anyway, I consult “Going out in Greenbelt” myself when I feel like doing something and I hear from others who do, so I’ll keep it up.
In addition to Going out in Greenbelt there’s at least one other article per week, which can be about anything. In this first year the blog has published a series of Q&As with the yoga teachers of Greenbelt (three of them), and several home renovation articles with before and after photos and details about the products used and design choices made. Recently I published the first two in a new series of profiles of houses of worship in or near Greenbelt and will do lots more over the winter.
When it’s Great to Have a Community Blog
I LOVED being invited to be the “Blog Ambassador” for the Greenbelt Theatre by the Partners in Preservation during the campaign that resulted in our theater being awarded $75,000. That organization really worked social media, and hosting an event for blog ambassadors was one of the many smart things they did, as well as inviting all the bloggers to the final event when the winners were announced.
It was also handy to have a place to put information about the recent garden tour. Without the blog, where else could that have been posted? On the GHI website, it would have taken gobs of staff time, so that wouldn’t have happened, and I wouldn’t have been able to continuously tweak it, as needed, and then later remove the addresses, and then – and this was exciting – add the fabulous video that a former resident created (506 views and counting) and the photo album that the editor of Washington Gardener Magazine created, too. The garden tour page with those links plus photos, garden descriptions, and even some plant lists will remain on the blog permanently as a resource.
In September Greenbelt Live had 4,380 unique visits and 4,495 page views.
More Ways to Use Greenbelt Live
I’m an absolute beginner at birding, so I’m going to start a permanent collection on the blog: The Wildlife of Greenbelt!!! I hope you’ll all contribute photos, descriptions, your bird lists, and more, so that other newbies like myself will get up to speed and learn more about birds and other wild animals within the city limits. I’ve consulted a couple of experts about what info would be helpful to collect and they suggest: name, photo (locally if available, if not, one from Cornell), month seen, and in what type of site (on the lake, at a feeder, etc). Any suggestions?
I’ll be featuring a poetry book published by a 17-year-old Greenbelter named Delali Norvor. She contacted me out of the blue and I’m so glad she did! More of that, please!
Eric Zhang did such a terrific job documenting Greenbelt in its 75th anniversary year for his blog Greenbelt 2012 and his being named Outstanding Citizen not only applauded his good work but gave people the pleasure of seeing Greenbelt online. Not realizing it was a completed work of art, many Greenbelters were heard enthusiastically suggesting that Eric blog about such and such, which made me wonder if he might be willing to continue posting his photos right here – just occasionally. So I twisted his arm as best I could but to no avail – his talents are being put to use in print on other projects. So, what I proposed to Eric I now put to any local photographer: How about a monthly feature called “Scenes from Greenbelt?” Or whatever. More photos (better than mine) are on my wish list for this blog.
Lots of events and permanent information can be put right here on Greenbelt Live, so consider using this as a free host if you need one. And as always, contact me if you’d like me to promote your event, organization, a book you’ve gotten published, to brag about your world travels – whatever. A long as there’s a Greenbelt connection.
Down the Road?
Eventually I’m sure that Greenbelt will have a lively online community with news, opinion, surveys, videos, slide shows, forums, wiki-calendars, and who-knows-what, and I can imagine shutting down this blog and joining that fabulous effort. Until then, I’ll be here, welcoming all contributors.
Oh yeah, just one. I wish I’d named it Greenbelt Now – because Greenbelt Live can be mistaken for a blog that’s exclusively about arts and entertainment. But in the world of mistakes in naming, I can live with this one.