Greater Greater Washington

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We did it (thanks to you)!

Our first-ever reader drive is over, and we did it! Thanks to so many of you who contributed, we passed our goal for this reader drive and helped Greater Greater Washington on its road to sustainability.

Photo by Nomadic Lass on Flickr.

We brought in $3,684 since the start of our matching challenge, which helped us get the entire $3,000 match and even go beyond. We've taken in over $15,000 for this reader drive.

Besides the two people who offered $1,500 matches each, we had people contribute $500, $250, and many denominations all the way down to $10, $5, and even $1.

That money alone isn't enough to cover our costs and pay for Shawn, but it gets us on solid ground for the moment along with money from CSG and myself. Plus, there's a lot more we'd like to do, like expanding our coverage to more communities around the region, or even just having staff to handle more of the day to day administration so I and the other volunteer editors can spend more time writing (I sent/will send out all of the supporter thank-yous myself, for example!)

So if you didn't contribute yet, please do now and it will continue to do a lot of good. The boxes reminding you to support us won't be at the bottom of each post, but there will still be a button on the sidebar you can always use, and we hope you will.

Plus, I'm always working on a whole pile of ideas for big and medium-sized projects we could do to advance the conversation around the shape of our communities, if only we had the resources for them. I'll post more in the near future about some of those, and meanwhile, if you have a line on people or organizations that might want to support community conversations, web tools akin to the Redistricting Game, organizing, and more, please get in touch.

Thank you so much for your support of Greater Greater Washington!


We're so close! Help put us over the top

As this week comes to a close, so does our reader drive, and you have really come through. We've almost maxed out our $3,000 matching challenge grant. Can you help us get the very last bit of the way there?

The urbanist thermometer is almost at the cornice!

Readers have pitched in $2,236 since we started the match on Tuesday. That match doubles any contribution up to $3,000, which means we only have $764 left to go to hit this target. If you can support us with some of that last $764 you get to double your impact.

We'd love to stop having to talk about fundraising too, at least for a little while. Can we close out the reader drive by maxing out the match and hitting $15,000? Thank you so much to everyone who has already contributed and to in advance to everyone who does!


Many of you really stepped up. Let's keep it going!

Since we started our $3,000 matching challenge yesterday, our readers have really come through and chipped in $1,356. That's 42% of the $3,000 matching target in one day! Can we close out this week with the rest?

The urbanist thermometer gets higher. Original photo by ekelly80.

Readers contributed $250, $100, $20, $5 a month, and even just $5. Our matching grant givers will double anything we get this week up to $3,000 total, so we've actually raised $2,712 in the last day.

All of it makes a big difference in helping us pay Shawn, keep Greater Greater Washington's quality high, and invest in reaching out to more communities and on more issues that affect the shape of our neighborhoods and quality of life all across our region.

I've updated our little "townhouse thermometer" on the right. Can you give $20, $100, $250 or whatever you can so we can max out our challenge, get that townhouse photo up to its zoning and historic maximum height, and close out this last week of our reader drive on a high note, even getting all the way to $15,000 in total? Thanks for all your support!


We're almost there! Can you help?

Thanks to many of you, our beloved readers, we've raised $9,120.63 so far in our first-ever reader drive. There's just one more week; can you help us close it out on a high note as you double your impact this week?

An urbanist version of the donation thermometer. Original photo by ekelly80.

Your support, combined with contributions from the Coalition for Smarter Growth and some money of my own, helps cover core expenses of Greater Greater Washington, including our new associate editor, J. Shawn Durham.

For this final week of our reader drive, we have a way to double the impact of reader support. Two generous individuals have agreed to match one for one any more contributions you make, up to $3,000. That means that we could potentially get to $15,000. How far can we go?

Your support will help us pay Shawn to keep the quality and pace of articles on Greater Greater Washington high. If we get more support, we can also have Shawn put time into reaching out to more communities that we don't talk about as much; we'd really like to do more east of the Anacostia River, in Prince George's, and in many parts of Virginia, for example.

Please support us today with $20, $100, $500, or whatever you can afford. If you can do a monthly or yearly contribution, that can go even further by giving us a more reliable funding stream (though of course you can stop contributing at any time).

If you don't want to use PayPal, you can mail us a check (the address is on this page); drop us a note at to let us know so we can count it toward the goal!

Thank you for your support of Greater Greater Washington!


What Greater Greater Washington means to me

I jumped into the DC hyperlocal blogging scene back in 2005, when I moved to the Woodridge neighborhood in Northeast. I came across Greater Greater Washington in early 2008, when David posted about development in Brookland, and later in the year, I met him in person.

The author with the DC Statehood Panda. Photo by Jaime Fearer on Flickr.

Because I'd since moved to Shaw, and had applied to graduate school for community planning, I was interested in finding another way to be involved in a city-wide (and, ultimately, a region-wide) discussion about urbanism and smart growth. So I asked David if he'd consider having contributors. The rest is, as they say, history.

Since then, I've been involved with GGW in a number of roles, most recently behind-the-scenes as an editor. I am proud of the debate we stir up, the advocacy we stand behind, and the community we've built.

Over the years, we've tried to disseminate important information and to do it in a way that is both timely and accessible. Too often, and especially with the topics we cover, it's easy to lose the meat of a story in jargon and lack of context; our aim is to cut through the technical terminology that can alienate readers and to give you the background you need to make an informed decision.

We've been lucky to work with some extremely talented and dedicated volunteers since 2008, and we look forward to many more years doing the same. We've also been lucky enough to employ a part-time associate editor recently, and we need your support to keep it up and to make GGW even greater. Please consider a contribution to the siteany and every little bit counts, and is very much appreciated.


What Greater Greater Washington means to me

Almost 6 years ago today, I stumbled across a new urbanism blog, and my immediate reaction was, "why couldn't I have thought of a creative name like that?" But more importantly, I was amazed at how great the content was, and how much of it the single author turned out. I subscribed right away.

Photo by Malcolm Kenton.

From the start, Greater Greater Washington was a great introduction to the issues. At the time, I was in planning school at the University of Maryland, and I'd only lived in the region for about 7 months. But very quickly, I was learning all sorts of things about planning and policy in the District and the region as a whole.

Over time, David was joined by Michael Perkins, Jaime Fearer, and others. The coverage of urbanism and policy continued to get better as the site grew as more people joined the cause. I came on board in December of 2008 after David asked to crosspost a piece I had written wondering if President-elect Obama was going to be progressive on transportation.

Over time, Greater Greater Washington grew. More contributors joined, and we were producing more and more content. David was the sole editor at the time, and while his demanding standards made sure our quality never suffered, the workload was too much for David alone. In the summer of 2010, he asked the contributors for editorial help, and I volunteered, because as a planner I could see the positive impact GGW was having. And I didn't want to lose it.

Today, I know of several elected officials who read the site regularly, and I don't know a planner who doesn't. But our impact isn't just because planners and politicians read the site. It's because you do. It's because we have been successful in getting more people educated about the issues and helping them get involved in the process.

I certainly wasn't alone in wanting to help. As the workload grew beyond what David and I could handle, other contributors volunteered to become editors. But they weren't alone. Because you have always stepped up. Several times, Breakfast Links has been in trouble of disappearing. And every time, new readers volunteered to take on the most difficult (and most popular) part of GGW: curating links.

Since its inception, Greater Greater Washington has been working to change the dialogue. Not only by creating a forum for discussion here, but also by getting new groups involved in the process. Planning is complex and can be daunting for people who haven't been involved before. But building our communities is something that everyone should have a role in. GGW has made planning more accessible to many.

I think that's the true value of the site. Greater Greater Washington has served as a source of education for many, and it's helped make planning more accessible to all. Helping everyone have a say in how to make their communities better. Greater Greater Washington has provided many people with an accessible introduction to the issues facing growth: from gentrification to streetcars, from inclusionary zoning to fare policy, from budget policies to fantasy Metro maps.

In order to keep growing and to keep serving the region, we need your help again. Hiring an editor to fill Dan Reed's shoes is a necessary step to allow the site to continue to grow, and really just to stay where we are. If you can't wait for Breakfast Links to go live every morning, if you enjoy the dialogue we foster, if you value the impact that GGW has on building a better Washington, I hope you'll support us however you are able.

Every little bit counts. And your support will help us continue to work for a stronger, more diverse, more walkable, more livable region.


What GGW means to me: Mainstreamed urbanism

Greater Greater Washington wasn't the first blog about urbanism or local policy-making in Washington, DC, but it's the one that changed the discussion. It's the one that brought arcane subjects like zoning and transit planning into the city's mainstream.

Dan Malouff.

By the time I first discovered Greater Greater Washington, I'd already been writing BeyondDC for many years. I was one of a cadre of bloggers writing about development and transportation, along with people like Richard Layman and DCist's Ryan Avent.

But we were few and far between, and most of us either had other jobs or split our writing with other subject matters. DC's online urbanist community, such as it was, had no home base and no leader. We were a niche network of geeky wonks, great at expressing opinions but not so good at building broad support.

Greater Greater Washington changed all that.

When David Alpert showed up, with his mountain of energy and dedication, that was a game-changer. David had the skills and time to do what the rest of us couldn't. He went to public meetings, he drew maps, and he wrote, and wrote, and wrote. All of it was accessible to anybody. All of it was interesting, and exciting. All of it elevated the public discussion about what Washington could be.

And the readers poured in. Then some of the early readers started writing too, and the whole thing grew exponentially.

At first, I admit, I was a little jealous.

But it took me about 3 seconds to realize what was happening. A mere blog was becoming a community, and that was too wonderful a thing to pass up. I had to be part of that.

And become a community Greater Greater Washington did. With more writers and more readers, we started to have an impact. Not only on other policy wonks, not only on the editorial pages of other media, but on the tone of the discussion itself, and later on elected officials.

Now, everyone in town knows the practicality and benefits of car-free or car-light living. We can swing budgets and change construction plans.

Thanks to Greater Greater Washington, urbanists in the DC region are a political force. We've gone mainstream, and we're making a difference.

Please help us keep making a difference. Please donate what you can, so our community will still have the strong voice it needs.


Why Greater Greater Washington is important to me

There's no shortage of blogs in the DC area that talk about specific neighborhoods. In fact, for 8 years, I've written one myself. But Greater Greater Washington tells a unique story about our region as a whole.

The author at GGW's 5th birthday. Photo by Aimee Custis.

I don't remember when I started reading GGW, but I was struck by the slogan "the Washington, DC area is great. But it could be greater." Our region is undergoing a massive period of growth, resurgence, and evolution. In doing so, the traditional lines between "city" and "suburb" are blurring, both in terms of demographics and the built environment.

To understand what's happening in our communities, sometimes we have to look at the big picture. From the start, GGW has looked at the opportunities and challenges facing places from Georgetown to Germantown and everywhere in between, and how they're all connected.

Greater Greater Washington is a place where smart, passionate people, including residents, advocates, community leaders, elected officials, designers, and planners, can come together and talk about where we're going as a region. It's given me the chance to share the stories of my community, Silver Spring, and to read the stories of places throughout the District, Maryland, and Virginia, that other media don't report.

This blog is an invaluable resource for those who care about making stronger, more sustainable communities, and has become the envy of places around the nation. Over the past year, I've been proud to serve Greater Greater Washington as its associate editor, and while I won't be in that position much longer, I'm eager to remain a part of this amazing community.

Moreover, I'm excited to see where GGW will go next, and what stories we'll get to tell in the future. But we can only do that with your help. If you care about having an online community that's able to look at the big picture of Greater Washington, I hope you'll support us with a donation.


Why Greater Greater Washington is important to me

Greater Greater Washington is holding a reader drive to fund our Associate Editor, who makes sure we get high-quality posts up every day. Some members of the Greater Greater Washington family have written accounts of why this community is important to them and to the region. Please support us today!

I don't recall the first Greater Greater Washington article that I read, but I do recall the first one that I contributed to: a post about reworking the traffic flow around Mount Vernon Square and on 7th and 9th streets south of the convention center.

The author with wife and fellow contributor Jaime Fearer. Photo by Madame Meow on Flickr.

I had been reading and writing about public planning meetings in the city for years, and it finally became clear that I should be adding my voice to what, at that time, was quickly becoming the source for intelligent analysis of urban planning in the DC area.

Over the last 4+ years, I've watched the blog grow in scope and influence. The launch of Greater Greater Education may be the most consequential new addition to the local blogosphere, even if many don't realize it yet.

For years, conversations about growth in DC have frequently hinged on this point: "If the DC school system was great, it would be impossible to keep people from flooding into the city." In many ways, education is the only thing where DC doesn't hold distinct advantages over surrounding communities.

The blog's coverage of local politics is also a great strength. Local television news all but ignores the issues in local politics, and the Washington Post frequently goes for the horse-race story instead of the policy analysis. Greater Greater Washington fills an important gap, creating a place where smart discussion of local politics is a necessity, not a luxury.

I hope to see the blog continue to grow in its geographic and topical coverage. Even though I'm watching DC from the other side of the country now, I will continue to rely on Greater Greater Washington to keep me intelligently informed on important issues in a city I care deeply about.

In order to help the blog grow, we need to be able to ensure that an editorial team exists to keep the quality at a high level. If you value the quality of the content on the blog, please consider giving what you can so Greater Greater Washington can continue to provide smart pieces on planning, education, and all the related issues that make a growing region work.


Why Greater Greater Washington is important to me

Greater Greater Washington is holding a reader drive to fund our Associate Editor, who makes sure we get high-quality posts up every day. Some members of the Greater Greater Washington family have written accounts of why this community is important to them and to the region. Please support us today!

I don't remember when I started reading Greater Greater Washington. It probably came from clicking on links from DCist and slowly realizing that it would be easier just to come to the site directly.

I was first drawn to the high-quality, substantive content that GGW provided. I could be kept informed of WMATA's latest plans and what new developments I could look forward to.

Probably more than any other website, GGW changed the way I thought about the world around me. I learned what damage vast amounts of parking can have on an area. I learned why certain areas seemed to be teeming with life, while others seemed barren.

Perhaps most of all, I liked the comments section. With its thoughtful discussions and reasoned responses, I came to regard it as the best comment section on the internet. I would lurk around other websites' comment sections (and did at GGW for a while). But I decided to join the conversation on GGW, and made it one of the only sites I commented on.

As I read more and got more invested in the site, I wanted to get more involved. I thought about writing articles, but I wasn't sure what to write about. Then an opening came up to put the breakfast links together. I was (and still am) a big fan of the links and I figured if they meant so much to me, I should help with them, even though it would require doing something I loathe, which is getting up early. You now see my byline a lot less, as I've moved behind the scenes to editing links from our fantastic links team.

But now GGW needs your support. Please consider making a contribution so that we can continue to grow and provide you with some of the best urbanist content on the internet.

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