The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.

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Meta


Do you know a student looking for an internship for college credit this semester? Look no further!

This spring we (unexpectedly) welcomed two fantastic interns, Megan and Skyler, from Arizona State University. Now, we're looking for two more interns for the fall.


Interns Skyler Daviss (left) and Megan Kelly (right)

What our inaugural interns did

During their two months with Greater Greater Washington, our interns conducted an analysis of our 2016 reader drive, assisted with grant writing and data analysis, and learned about housing policy in the Washington region.

They also each published a post, sharing advice for other out-of-town interns who find themselves learning how to get around and securing housing while they are in DC.

Skyler and Megan were so great, we decided that having interns in the future could only make GGWash stronger! And, they confirmed what we already suspected: GGWash is a great learning experience for students who have designs on influencing public policy, be it as an urban planner, a journalist, or advocate.

Unpaid internships ≠ free labor

These internships are unpaid. We wish we had funding to provide paid internship experiences, but we don't right now. Since these are unpaid internships, the focus is on student learning rather than providing labor support to GGWash.

So, we are especially looking for students who can receive college credit for their participation in this internship experience.

Spread the word

We see this as an opportunity to help mentor and train the next generation of leaders who will advocate for smart urbanism in the Washington region and beyond. If you, or someone you know, is a college student looking for a stepping stone into a future career in public policy, journalism, advocacy, or nonprofit management, check out the two job descriptions below.

The Communications and Media Intern will learn about and support GGWash's efforts to maintain and grow the blog. Through this internship a student can expect to improve their writing and editing skills, enhance their data analysis skills by working with staff and volunteers to analyze site data, identify trends, and make recommendations for enhancing our content. They will also have a chance to participate in discussions and decisions about GGWash's website redesign, which is underway.

Check out the full job description here.

The Development Intern will primarily learn about and support fundraising efforts to maintain and grow the organization. Through this internship a student can expect to conduct donor prospecting research, participate in granting writing and editing, learn to use DonorPro and SalsaCRM to track donor activity, and participate in trainings and workshops related to fundraising.

Check out the full job description here.

How to apply

Candidates should send their resume, cover letter, and short writing sample to jobs@ggwash.org by Friday, August 19th. We expect the internship to begin the first week of September, after Labor Day.

Meta


What do you think of this design for our site?

We're rebuilding our website on a modern platform and redesigning it in the process. Here's what the design may look like. What do you think?


Keep reading for a link to see the whole thing.

An open, participatory spirit is at the core of Greater Greater Washington. Our articles and Breakfast Links come from volunteers among you, our community, and the site is only valuable if you enjoy reading it and sometimes take action.

That's why we discussed logo options and got your input on the winning logo (including feedback from the comments which led to tweaking the tagline and making it even greater!) It's also why we collected your input on what you like and hate about our current site.

While many websites hunker down to redesign their site and suddenly bust out with a new one, we wanted to hear from you at key points along the process. Our designer and site builder, Derek Hogue, has done some great work and put together a homepage design that we think has a lot going for it. Before we move further, we wanted to hear your thoughts.

Before you look at it, a few important caveats

This is a mockup, not a live site. It's trying to establish the overall design. Many minor details will still change—we're showing this to you early, which means it's early.

A lot of content is placeholder. For instance, the category section for "Maryland" has many non-Maryland posts, and so forth. That's because which post goes in which section isn't what this is focusing on.

The "Greater Washington Essentials" section at the bottom doesn't have the actual categories or posts that it would really have (that'll be an area for "evergreen" stuff that's always good to read if you want to learn more about the region).

Therefore, some things might not be clear from the static version and/or the one with the posts in the wrong places, but will be clearer later. Feel free to note anything that's confusing to you, however—it could be valuable to know.

You're just seeing a static image. If you have a smaller screen (or are on mobile), you won't see it all at once. It'll definitely be a responsive design that shrinks and ultimately condenses into one column for smaller screens and mobile devices; that's just not something you can see at this point.

Now that you've read all that, check it out!

Why we have to do this

"But everything is fine," you might say (and some of you did on our survey, though many said the opposite). "Why does something need to change?"

A few reasons:

  1. The site runs on code I wrote entirely myself, which has built up over many years. I know how to add features (and have a lot of flexibility), but I'm the only one, and that's no way to run a real organization. Since I wrote most of it, these new blog platforms have arisen that are much more maintanable.
  2. The backend needs to be better. Our contributors have to write their posts in HTML and use somewhat clunky systems to import images. Modern blog platforms make this much easier. I initially wrote the code for my own use personally, so it wasn't a big deal if some backend features were hard for others to use, but now we have about 80 people writing articles in the last 3 months.
  3. The "reverse chronological" format works well for frequent visitors who want to read everything and know what's new since they were here last, but it's not great for occasional and new visitors. These folks want to be able to see, at a glance, some articles they may want to read. If you just show one, it's not necessarily the right one. We spend too much time worrying about what order and time to post articles because of this.
  4. We're growing to be more than a blog. We have an organizer advocating for more market-rate and affordable housing. Can you tell from reading the site? We need to better convey the range of our activities (while still keeping a focus on the content every day).
  5. Relative to our traffic, not a lot of people sign up for the daily email. (You might have said, "what daily email?" Exactly! It's here, for now.) We need to be doing better at telling people who visit the site how they can keep in touch, if they're interested.
  6. There are many other things people have learned about designing a good site since 2009, when Joey Katzen kindly devised our current site (and did a great job with it!) Anyway, it's just been a long time now.
What won't change

We've decided not to switch to a third party comment system like Disqus. Many of you said you thought it was a good idea, but many also said it was not. While it'll cost more to rebuild on a new platform (and won't be exactly the same), the comment system is working pretty well and we don't want to mess with something that isn't broken.

That doesn't mean nothing will change with comments. We're looking into some level of threading and other changes to make them work better. We're not up to that yet, though—we'll talk more when we are.

Also, if you like reverse chronological posts, there will still be parts of the page that show all the posts, and a separate page to see everything just in that order as well.

Finally, we certainly hope the quality of content and our other activities will only get better!

How we'll use your feedback

You can say whatever you like in the comments (as long as it complies with the comment policy, of course). But while we want your thoughts in this process, it's not going to be a vote. A site designed by too many people ends up being very uninspiring. And keeping the old site is not on the table.

However, there are a lot of smart folks out there and there's a good chance you might think of a point we hadn't considered. For example, commenters duncan, Kevon, cyco, and Jasper had suggestions to improve our tagline after we published the new logo. We changed it from "The Washington, DC area is great >> but it could be greater." to "The Washington, DC area is great >> and it can be greater." A small thing, but I think meaningful, and something that came from you.

That's why we wanted to show this to you before it's very far along. What would you change? We sincerely hope you point out things we didn't think of and make this even better. Check it out and leave your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!

Meta


Thank you to these GGWash supporters!

Without financial support of foundations, readers like you, and local businesses, Greater Greater Washington couldn't keep building informed and civically engaged communities who speak up for livable places for all. Thank you!


Image by Moeez via Wikimedia Commons.

Foundations

With funding from the Open Philanthropy Foundation and McIntosh Foundation we're increasing the number of posts about housing, creating maps to help visualize the housing affordability problem, and launched a book club to read and discuss DC's Comprehensive Plan to prepare for the upcoming amendment process.

Readers like you

So far this year, 295 readers have donated $29,000! Kyle M. and Melissa J. starting giving $5 and $10 to GGWash every month. Elizabeth W. and William H. made one-time donations of $25. Robert W. contributed $500. We'd love to recognize each and every of the 291 other individuals, but we just don't have space.

Reader donations help make sure GGWash can publish the information you rely on like updates and analysis about Metro, endorsements to help you cast your vote in support of transit-oriented policies and candidates, and stories like this one and this one that capture the experience of living in the Washington DC region.

You can make a donation anytime! Please consider making yours today.

Support us: Monthly   Yearly   One time
Greatest supporter—$250/year
Greater supporter—$100/year
Great supporter—$50/year
Or pick your own amount: $/year
Greatest supporter—$250
Greater supporter—$100
Great supporter—$50
Supporter—$20
Or pick your own amount: $
Want to contribute by mail or another way? Instructions are here.
Contributions to Greater Greater Washington are not tax deductible.

Corporate sponsors

So far in 2016, Chevy Chase Land Company and EYA have provided $3,500 in sponsorships to support GGWash's activities. Capital Bikeshare, goDCgo, Island Press, and TransitOriented donated goods including CaBi memberships, books, and posters to use as prizes for our 8th Birthday Party in March. Tate and Tryon provided pro-bono accounting expertise to help GGWash file its first tax return.

Read about how GGWash will and won't work with corporate sponsors here.

Volunteers

Last but not least, we couldn't be Greater Greater Washington without the more than 125 volunteers who donate their time to bring you thoughtful, data-informed information about the forces shaping our region. Community volunteers write the majority of the posts that appear on GGWash. Each year, our volunteers donate tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of time to Greater Greater Washington.

The Washington, DC region is great, and you all help make it greater. Thank you!

If you would like to support Greater Greater Washington through a corporate sponsorship or by volunteering, I would love to hear from you!

Want to write great blog posts? We'll teach you how!

Blogging is a powerful way to share what you know. On Thursday, June 23rd at 2001 L Street NW, we'll train you to write blog posts that effectively and persuasively share your ideas with the world.

The session is from 6:30-8:30, in room 222. The goal is to help you expand your writing skills by teaching you what works and what doesn't in blogging! Here's some of what we'll cover:

  • Three fundamentals that any blog post should have
  • How to pick a topic and write an introduction that will grab readers' attention
  • The strengths and weaknesses of a sample GGWash post
We'll also have plenty of time to answer your questions.

If you want to attend, please let us know via this form.

We plan to host more of these sessions all around the region, so don't worry if you can't make it to this one. Also, let us know if you'd like to host a session; we'd love to come to your neighborhood or group!

Meta


Corporate sponsorships: How Greater Greater Washington does (and doesn't) work with businesses

For lots of nonprofits, corporate sponsorships play a big role in keeping the lights on. Here at Greater Greater Washington, we've talked internally about how we would and wouldn't work with corporate sponsors, and in keeping with our commitment to transparency, wanted to share that with you. The bottom line: we will take sponsorships, but we're not going to publish any sponsored content, period.

Corporate sponsorships make up a small piece (4.2%) of our projected revenue pie for 2016. Sponsorships usually revolve around an event where the sponsor provides GGWash money in exchange for marketing visibility.

For example, we received $3,500 and donations of products around our birthday party in March 2016. As a benefit of making these donations, we publicized the sponsors on our blog and gave them a shout out during the party.

This arrangement is mutually beneficial. We get funding that supports the blog and our housing program, and the sponsor gets a chance to show readers that their business cares about the things that GGWash writes about and supports.

Both parties benefit, and GGWash maintains its editorial freedom.


Trivia prizes made possible by sponsors. Photo by Aimee Custis.

How we won't work with companies

Editorial integrity is one of our a core values, so we've set a firm policy against any kind of sponsored content at this time.

However, sometimes a sponsor is going to be working on something that we might write about anyway. We support building more housing, and maybe a developer is also building some housing. Or, maybe a transportation consultant is working on a project for a bike lane or street redesign, which we might support anyway. We certainly don't want the fact that we got a sponsorship to suddenly mean we can't write about that company's project.

But what we don't want to happen is for someone to sponsor us with the expectation it will lead to a favorable article. We won't do that.

To help ensure that we do not let relationships with corporate partners influence our content, GGWash's volunteer Editorial Board will review any posts a contributor or editor might write about a sponsor's activities. Our staff won't write any posts about them. Members of the Editorial Board (see a list on our About page) aren't getting paid by GGWash, and won't benefit personally from any sponsorships we get. Therefore, their only interest is in maintaining our integrity, quality, and organizational effectiveness.

How we'll stay transparent

As we fundraise to support this site and our organization, we are committed to maintaining the flexibility to say whatever we want, and being open with readers about the sources of our funding.

Once per quarter, we will publish a post thanking our sponsors. We offer this as a benefit to our corporate partners, but this practice also helps provide transparency around the corporate sponsorships Greater Greater Washington has received.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about supporting Greater Greater Washington through a corporate sponsorship, let us know! Shoot us an email at info@ggwash.org!

Meta


Here's our new logo. Thank you for your help.

We need a new logo. Actually, we kind of need a logo, period—there's not really a logo on our website, just our name in some fonts, and a totally different icon on Twitter. We need something unifying. Here's what we've picked:

Many of you voted in our survey of eight options. The concept that turned into this got the best ratings, and we liked it too.

The double G reflects our name, of course, and the icon looks a little like a transit map (and uses a green close to the one for the Metro Green Line).

The tail is shaped somewhat like the District of Columbia, but it was important to us that the logo not be just something inside a DC outline, because we're explicitly about Greater Washington, not just DC. Here, the curve of the G sweeps beyond DC. The tail also suggests the Potomac and Anacostia rivers as well as "greater than" symbols.

We picked two tones of green and gray (a greenish gray). Green reflects growth and motion, like a traffic light. It's also the color for one line of the Metro system, one that spans a lot of different types of neighborhoods.

Finally, green is not the red of the DC flag, blue of Virginia, or gold and black of Maryland; we didn't want to favor one such entity over another, and using all three would be too busy and look too much like some nations' flags.

Gray is part of the site's current aesthetic, such as the sidebars. (You could also say it evokes the built environment, though honestly, we just picked it because it looks good with the green.)

The text is a font called Whitney Condensed, a sans serif with some playful features like the ends of some of the lines (see the top left of the W, the bottom right of the A, or the top right of the T). We want to provide you with solid information, but also don't want to be too square or stodgy about it, and this font fits that.

The tagline includes the double chevron "greater greater" which we also liked in the logo discussion. Many of you liked that symbol, but it didn't really work on its own. Here, as a secondary element, people can get the math joke, or not. That symbol also connotes motion, and the similarity to sharrows ties in bicycling.

We hope you like it. For sure, some of you will hate it; any logo change engenders some strong opinions. But we like it.

We may try to work in the logo here and there soon. More significantly, this is one step in redesigning our website, for which this logo will be a cornerstone. Stay tuned for more on that.

Thanks very much to Peter Dovak, who created the double G shape, and Derek Hogue, who is doing our website redesign and worked with us on colors, fonts, and text.

Meta


Did you know Greater Greater Washington has a home base?

Until the end of last year, Greater Greater Washington operated out of coffee shops and David Alpert's basement office. As the staff grew, so did the need for more permanent space. We moved into one in November!


1100 Connecticut Avenue NW.

With a small budget of $1,800 a month, we set out to find bright, centrally-located space in DC that could accommodate four people, and offered access to conference space. After looking at a half dozen potential options including co-working spaces, private spaces, and shared office space, we found what we were looking for.

Since November, we've called suite 810 at 1100 Connecticut Avenue NW home.

Here's a tour of our offices

We rent two offices and share the use of a small and large conference room with our suite mate, Olender Reporting.


Floor plan of our office suite.

Jonathan Neeley, our staff editor, and David Whitehead, our housing program organizer, share one office.


David (L) and Jonathan (R).

On any given day, you'll find Jonathan busy at his DIY sit-stand desk editing contributors' posts. David on the other hand, is in and out of the office, often meeting with people who want to help Greater Greater Washington support more attainable housing for more people in DC and the region.

David Alpert and I share the other office.


Sarah Guidi and David Alpert.

You'll find David here on Wednesdays and Fridays, meeting with staff about the blog, our housing program, and strategic directions of the organization. During the rest of the week, David is engaging in a research sabbatical of sorts: he's taking a deep dive into the economics of housing, development, and growth to better understand the forces that shape housing costs and identify the most promising solutions for making housing more abundant and attainable.

I am here in the office most days and spend my time supporting staff and volunteers, fundraising to keep the blog and our growing housing program going strong, and keeping track of our finances.

Meet our interns

Having dedicated space also meant that we could welcome two interns from Arizona State University!


Skyler Daviss (L) and Megan Kelly (R)

Skyler Daviss and Megan Kelly set out to do a semester in DC to learn about international development and advocacy. When their original placement fell through in March, we made a quick decision to welcome them for their final five weeks. They've been a great addition to the team these past few weeks and we'll miss them when they wrap up their internship this week. Thanks, Skyler and Megan!

And our neighbor


Corey Nichols of Olender Reporting.

Olender Reporting's Corey Nichols occupies the other office in our suite. We've piqued his interest in urbanism, and he even joined us at the Nationals game a few weeks ago and met some of our contributors.

Come visit!

Now that you've seen where we work, let us know if you want to come visit! Whether you're a contributor who needs some space to work on a post, or a reader who has a great idea you'd like to tell us about, come on over.

Events


Watch our editor play ultimate and have fun with your fellow GGWash readers!

Jonathan Neeley isn't just our editor. He's also a top ultimate Frisbee player and a member of the DC Breeze, a team in the professional American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). We're going to their next home game, on Saturday, May 7 against New York. Join us!


Photo by Kevin Wolf.

The Breeze play at Gallaudet University's Hotchkiss Field, their football stadium. The game starts at 6:30. Gates open at 5:15, and our Managing Director, Sarah Guidi, will be there to give you your tickets. We'll all be sitting in a block, so you can meet other GGWash readers, commenters, contributors, and editors while enjoying what should be a very fun game.

We've gotten a group rate for tickets, which are usually $12.50. Thanks to Don and Kellen with the Breeze for making the group discount available to GGWash. If you want to come support Jonathan in his game and also in a tiny way help us pay his salary, you can pay the same $12.50 for your ticket and some of that will go to our organization to fund him. Or, you can buy a ticket alone for $7.50.

To participate, you need to buy your ticket by 4 pm on Friday, May 6. You can get it by clicking the button below:

(Contributions to Greater Greater Washington are not tax deductible.)

Once you buy a ticket, look for an email from Sarah on Friday evening with details on where and how to meet her to get your tickets.

Aside from a chance to watch some very talented athletes, games are a great way to spend time outside and enjoy the community. You can buy both beer and food there (and for cheap!), and there's a live band that starts playing soon after the gates open. Kids 12 and under get in free, and there's also a free clinic to teach kids to play that runs from 5-6 pm.

The field is about a 15-minute walk from NoMa Metro. The 90s buses run past the campus along Florida Avenue, and the D4 and D8 just to the east, and the university runs a shuttle from Metro. There is a Capital Bikeshare station right on Gallaudet's campus, near the field, and drivers can buy daily parking passes.

Hope to see you there!

Development


Want to write about housing? We'll teach you how!

From bike lanes to Metro, Greater Greater Washington helps drive the conversation about transportation in our region. We could be saying more about housing, and you can help make it happen.


There's lots to say about all kinds of types of housing all over DC. Can you help us say it? Photo by Matt B on Flickr.

When I first heard about Greater Greater Washington, it was because of one our major political wins: the day thousands of readers saved the streetcar. There have been many others, all possible because we've built a platform and place to educate residents around issues that affect the places we live. This blog has become a powerful tool for information, argument, and action.

Our blog is growing in many ways, and one place we can afford to grow substantially right now is our focus on housing and development. What role can we play in shaping the conversation around housing in our region? What are the questions we want answered, the issues we want explored?

Write about housing for us

I'm constantly meeting with people across this city to discuss housing, and all the time, they say something like, "You know what I would love to read about? ______."

My answer is always the same: "Sounds like a great GGWash post! When can you write a draft?"

We have staff now at Greater Greater Washington, but we don't have staff writers! Our blog is sustained through the volunteers who recognize a story worth telling, and write it down. In the last quarter of this year alone we had 76 unique contributors help us build an archive of arguments, stories and issues that affect our region.

This upcoming Thursday, April 28th, from 6:30-8:30 we are hosting a workshop to help boost our coverage on housing. It will be our first in-person chance to explain a little of our thinking about what Greater Greater Washington can do about housing in the region, as well as a training for individuals and organizations who have similar visions and want to better engage our blog space with their ideas and stories.

Please fill out this form if you're interested in coming! We'll be in basement room A-9 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library.

Meta


We'll be redoing our website. Give us your input!

What do you think is great about the Greater Greater Washington website, and what could be greater? Give us your input on this survey!


The site in 2013.

Why do we have to make a change at all? A few reasons.

First, Greater Greater Washington runs on code I wrote myself and which has built up more and more complexity over the years. I'm the only one who can maintain it, and that's not a responsible way to run a larger organization. We should be on a widely-used Content Management System (CMS) that many people can code on.

While we're moving the site over, it's a good time to refresh the look. The layout dates to 2009. It was a great design and Joey Katzen did a fantastic job, and we don't want to change just for the sake of change.

However, it's been seven years and a lot has changed on the web with things like readability on various devices. And there are a few specific ways the user experience doesn't work for some groups of readers. I don't want to go into a lot of detail about what exactly I think most needs to change to avoid biasing your survey responses, but I'll follow up with more posts after the survey.

I know that many of you think the site shouldn't change. We don't want to mess with things that you really like, so part of the survey is a chance to tell us what specific elements you really don't want to change as well as what you do.

Regular comments will be closed on this post to encourage you to fill out the survey. Thanks!

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