Greater Greater Washington

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I hope to see many of you at our reader happy hour tonight at Laughing Man. I'm also pleased to share some news: Greater Greater Wife and I are expecting a Greater Greater Baby this August.


Photo by Adam Bartlett on Flickr.

I'm going to be taking a significant break from Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education when the baby arrives, for at least a month and likely more. Moreover, this is a good opportunity for me to step out of the day to day management of the Greater Greater sites.

Greater Greater Washington and now Greater Greater Education have been a tireless labor of love for over five years. Even with the amazing support of countless volunteer contributors, keeping them going with Breakfast Links and 2-5 other articles every day takes a lot of effort. It's been a full-time job and often more, and I still often don't have time to reply to emails that come in, reach out to new contributors or even keep in touch with existing contributors as much as I'd like to.

That won't be able to continue at the same level once our baby arrives. I'd also like to be able to focus more significant time into researching, analyzing, and describing some of the deeper issues facing our region and how we can grow in a way that's inclusive of all people, longtime residents and new residents alike.

I also want Greater Greater Washington to continue to grow and thrive. Fortunately, with our large community of contributors and readers, I believe it can.

A path to sustainability

After talking with many contributors, editors, and advisors, I have come to the conclusion that the best path forward is for Greater Greater Washington to remain primarily a volunteer-driven organization, but also to add a few part-time or, in the future, full-time staff to handle some management and editing responsibilities.

We have always been about publishing content that comes from our volunteer contributors, and I think that is one of the greatest things about Greater Greater Washington which should continue. We will need more volunteer contributions and contributors, and I hope many of you can help out in this way. We also still need to find some more link editors so that we can spread the work out between many people across days.

In addition, there are many other tasks which need to get done to help keep the site running, like maintaining the code that runs the site, improving the design, reaching out to communities to find people to contribute, and figuring out how to best raise money.

Staff can manage and edit

Volunteers are great, but with rare exceptions, someone volunteering can usually only bite off a relatively small piece of work, and their work and home commitments mean that some days or weeks people just are too busy. But there are a few areas where we need someone to consistently take care of a responsibility day in and day out, and for that we will need to pay people.

I believe we need to have someone on staff who's actually keeping the trains running on time, managing things, making sure the organization has filed its proper forms, trying to make sure we respond to people who email in (something that, unfortunately, I often am not able to do), and so on.

A second big area is editing. We have always edited articles to help contributors refine their arguments and make them clear and effective. We've striven for a high standard of quality, and our commenters have also come to expect clear, information-filled articles. Therefore, someone needs to edit each article and work with the contributors.

Last year, we tried having a number of volunteer editors, who did a terrific job. However, sometimes they didn't all have time to actually do edits right away, and from day to day or week to week, a contributor might have different people editing their articles, making different kinds of changes, which caused confusion. Individual editors' schedules also varied, making it unpredictable whether they could edit something timely right away.

Thanks to some help from the Coalition for Smarter Growth and an interim contribution from myself, I am pleased to announce that regular contributor Dan Reed has joined GGW as part-time paid editor.

Dan has already been doing a great job editing many articles on GGW, and will be able to keep things going while I am out. So please congratulate Dan in the comments and when you see him tonight!

But we need your help

The existing funding will just help us keep Dan for a short while, however, and he can't do everything. We still need to raise money to keep him long-term (or, if he moves on to other things, find someone else), and fund having someone do the management work as well. I will be following up soon about all of that.

Plus, building an organization is also a lot of work. I need and want to keep the site going, keep writing, and also get ready for Greater Greater Baby. Here are a few areas we will need the most volunteer help:

  • Organizational development: We have to figure out how big a budget our organization needs to be sustainable, how to structure it, and how to make it successful. Then we need to figure out how to get that money, and from what sources. Do we do online contributions, events, what? And when we decide what to do, we have to actually pull it off! Do you have experience building organizations and raising money for other groups?
  • Technology and design: The blog runs on code I wrote myself. We should figure out whether to transition it to a major blog platform (probably eventually we should). We ought to make clear how to switch between blogs, and incorporate more of the features modern media companies use to remind people they can sign up for the daily email or go read other related stories. Do you know how successful online sites do this or have experience building features on platforms like Wordpress?
  • The breakfast links: Each day's links is one of the most popular elements of Greater Greater Washington, but it is a lot of work. I want to spread the work out among many people. Do you think you would be good at reading the news and blogs really fast to find appropriate urbanist articles and then writing pithy, effective summaries?
  • Planning or collecting events: We want to have more reader meet-ups and other types of events. In addition, people email us about many exciting events going on around the region. I'd love to have us do a better job keeping up our calendar and posting a weekly or biweekly event roundup, just like we have the great weekly Flickr picks. Do you want to help with either?
  • Writing articles: We always want contributions. We're trying to strike a good balance of news, analysis, and opinion, which means just informing readers about what's going on with development, transportation, and education all around the region is a big part of that. Do you want to inform a large community of engaged residents about what's going on in your part of the region?
If you can help with any of these, please use this form let us know which of these, or what aspect of them, you are interested in. If you've done something in one of these areas before, let us know that too.

This will be the first of many posts about our transition into the long-term organization that Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education can be. Meanwhile, I hope to see you at Laughing Man, 1306 G Street NW, between 6 and 8 pm tonight.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

Comments

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Congratulations on the impending baby. I hope you have a different tagline for the kid though.

by selxic on Jun 5, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

Congratulations. You have no idea what its like until you actually have a kid.

by SJE on Jun 5, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
Go see as many movies and dinners now. With transit of course!

by Thayer-D on Jun 5, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

恭喜恭喜!

by Richard Bourne on Jun 5, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

Congratulations to you and your wife, the continued evolution of the blog, and Dan's stepping up to a part-time position.

by Richard Layman on Jun 5, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

Congratulations!

by Justin..... on Jun 5, 2013 4:18 pm • linkreport

Many congratulations to you and your wife on the baby! Congratulations to Dan Reed on becoming GGW's first paid staffer!

With the recent launch of Greater Greater Education, clearly you've started to think about Greater Greater Baby's future. It's never too early to start planning for school; for the record Greater Greater Baby will be eligible for Preschool in DCPS/DCPCS schools in August 2016, the lotteries for which will open in January 2016. (Only an immense stroke of luck got us in a good and close-by charter school; we had been lulled into complacency with an excellent daycare.)

by thm on Jun 5, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

Congrats, David. Looking forward to seeing that double wide stroller with his and hers coffee cup holders on a metro bus one afternoon. ; )

by aaa on Jun 5, 2013 4:29 pm • linkreport

@thm-As an expecting parent myself, may I ask who your daycare provider is? My wife has been having a bit of a fit about finding us daycare ASAP.

by thump on Jun 5, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

Congratulations! (What does one call a brand-new Greater Greater Baby? A Greater Smaller Baby? A Greater Lesser Baby? Somebody help, please!)

by Miriam on Jun 5, 2013 4:52 pm • linkreport

FELICIDADES!

by Alan B. on Jun 5, 2013 5:02 pm • linkreport

Congratulations. You have no idea what its like until you actually have a kid.

It should be added that this is, in general, a good thing. :)

Congratulations, David.

by oboe on Jun 5, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

Congrats -- that's great news!

by BTDT on Jun 5, 2013 5:57 pm • linkreport

Greatly Greatly!

by nathan detroit on Jun 5, 2013 6:18 pm • linkreport

Oh, and big congratulations to Dan. I think its a great pick.

by SJE on Jun 5, 2013 7:30 pm • linkreport

Congratulations on your upcoming familiarity with elevator layouts in Metro stations! (Fair warning, L'Enfant is horribly inefficient.)

See you and the little one at Union Station for National Train Day in a few years?

- R

by Rob Pegoraro on Jun 5, 2013 8:30 pm • linkreport

Wish I could have made it but Happy Hours are tough when yo have a little one.

We'll be sure to pitch in and buy a toddler bike helmet about 15 months from now.

by Jim Titus on Jun 5, 2013 9:03 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Brain on Jun 5, 2013 9:17 pm • linkreport

@thump--It's the Rosslyn Childrens Center, which is about 2 blocks from my wife's office. We were on the waitlist for more than a year and didn't get in until my oldest was 2, and coincidentally a spot opened up just as we had to end our nanny share which was our original daycare. Then sibling preference, which worked against us for the first, worked for us for the second child, who started there once maternity leave was up. They go through kindergarten, which was tempting (although expensive) but that would have essentially excluded us from all the sought-after schools: the lotteries only have large numbers of openings for the youngest year they offer, which is either preschool (3) or pre-K (4). We missed our chance, through complacency, with the preschool lotteries, effectively closing some schools off, but keeping our oldest at daycare for that year is what let the sibling preference work for the second. It all worked out, but we really had no right to expect that it would.

by thm on Jun 5, 2013 10:25 pm • linkreport

Congratulations on Greater Greater Baby and welcome to the next big adventure! You are going to be a Greater Greater Dad and Mom.

My first pregnant-in-DC shock arrived at 20 weeks, when I learned it was probably already too late to land a day care spot. After needless worry, I then learned that it's really about timing and luck. And I was really happy with the nanny share we ended up doing when we didn't get a spot. Fewer daycare diseases, for one thing!

by TJ on Jun 5, 2013 10:29 pm • linkreport

Congratulations David on the new addition!

& congrats to Dan on the editing gig!

by Tony Goodman on Jun 6, 2013 1:14 am • linkreport

Congrats to your family and I look forward to a new future for GGW!

by cmc on Jun 6, 2013 1:32 am • linkreport

Fantastic news, congratulations! Perhaps future GGW happy hours will be at a mommy/daddy and baby venue.

And congratulations (and good luck) to Dan.

by dcd on Jun 6, 2013 8:44 am • linkreport

Congratulations on the great news! And a thank you for the valuable service you've provided to Washingtonians with GREATER greater Washington. I have appreciated your intelligent and reasonable approach to local issues and hope it will continue in some form. It is very much needed.

by Phil on Jun 6, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

Congrats David and welcome to the parenting club - it's getting more exclusive in urban areas like DC.

And congrats to Dan Reed, who, I believe, is a great choice for GGW. Dan writes some great pieces about his home turf and has great credibility in this space.

by TC on Jun 6, 2013 9:55 am • linkreport

Congrats on the Greater Greater pregnancy. Any plans to move on to Greater and Greater things such as elected office now that you'll have more time for things to do?

by A neighbor on Jun 6, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

Mazel tov, felicidades, bonnes nouvelles and Congrats on GGB, and to Dan Reed for landing this great (I hope) greater gig.
I echo those who say you should get on the waiting lists for pre-schools NOW. Though really to be on the safe side you should have registered when you got engaged, as my friends did. They had trouble getting pregnant but their name rose to the top of the waiting list just as their son turned 3.
May future happy hours occur earlier in the day, at stroller-friendly venues! Mr. Reed, please take note.

by Wendy on Jun 6, 2013 10:10 am • linkreport

mazel tov

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 6, 2013 10:14 am • linkreport

Congratulations!

by Danielle on Jun 6, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

So happy to hear of this news! We parents are like zombies. We want everyone else to turn into parents like us. Except unlike zombies we receive untold joys from our kids to go along with the sleeplessness and anguish.

For the first three months at least the kid can ride along in a Baby Bjorn to community meetings. After that, you'll be like, "Why can't we hold these meetings at 8 AM on a Saturday at a playground?" Seriously, it's one of the things you realize, that community involvement often takes place during times inconvenient for parents.

by Ward 1 Guy on Jun 10, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

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