Trolling the local blogs

As a fledgling local journalist, I’ve been spending some time on community blogs lately. Many of them are charming and compelling, and unfortunately wind up eating up hours as I go from one link to another. What I love is reading about the little issues that can be so important to residents, and the chiming in of various voices to give their two cents that creates a distinct flavor and sense (or illusion) of community.

Some of my favorites so far (and this is a very incomplete list, since I’m still new to this) are Prince of Petworth, Frozen Tropics (covering H Street, Trinidad, and north of Capitol Hill), and Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space (urban planning issues). I think a lot of people like these blogs too–their owners post very frequently, write about relevant subjects, and are clearly passionate about their topics. The Prince of Petworth blogger, for example, posts constantly about an area that probably doesn’t get written about much otherwise; he’s got a great eye for the unusual and, best of all, writes with a funny, fresh, cynicism-free style.

Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space is funny because it seems to break a lot of blogging rules–besides the long title, the topic is sort of dry and the blogger tends to write really long posts. But his obvious passion about the topic of city planning shines through and makes the blog interesting. It’s a great reminder of that lesson, “pursue what you love and stick to it, and you’ll be successful,” or whatever the adage is.

I also joined a Brookland listserv recently because I’m thinking about writing something about that neighborhood soon. Reading it is like taking a step down from blogs into the granularity of neighborhood issues: the listserv is full of recommendations for good handymen, discussions of school closings, and debates about new city development plans for the neighborhood.

This city’s neighborhoods are clearly humming with busy citizens and activity, which is great. My only reservation is to question the diversity of voices found online. I think most of the bloggers try to be racially ‘sensitive’ and it’s my impression that some of the posters are black or maybe latino, though I have a feeling they’re in the vast minority. That’s kind of odd, given that some of the most dynamic neighborhoods are ones that were probably 90% black/latino just a decade ago. It’s cool that new residents are such boosters for where they live, but it also bums me out to think that they might be (unintentionally) drowning out other voices.

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