It’s been less than a year but The Northwest Urbanist has already been more than I thought it would. In celebration of my 50th post, here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve written so far and what’s ahead.
Looking at my first post last August, I didn’t take this blog too seriously and thought I would mostly be writing about my experience as a newcomer to urban living. I have done that, but I quickly found that there is much more to write about in a city the size of Seattle. The stunning variety and number of planning and political activities brought out my interest in civic engagement. Only a month after moving here I started using this space for public event summaries, and I soon found my niche in researching long term regional issues and reporting on local urban affairs. Prompted by my interest in local government, I also started attending public meetings, press conferences, and other events to write about them. Amazingly, I have found time to do this as a graduate student and continue to aim for one post per week.
And to my surprise, I was also noticed early on. Locals at other websites The Urbanist and Seattle Transit Blog have asked me to write for them. I’ve been asked for interviews and was recently quoted in an article at The Guardian, a prominent British newspaper. So far I have remained independent and haven’t published any guest articles, but it’s certainly possible in the near future.
After presenting an architecture project I completed on my own time last summer, I decided to come up with more conceptual ideas using the academic knowledge I’ve accumulated in my graduate program. The first proposal, capping Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle, set off a bit of a firestorm online and drew lots of attention. The Northwest Urbanist Facebook page soon hit its first milestone of 100 ‘likes’; a shout-out to everyone who’s supported me! I was recently contacted by a local organization that is proposing the same idea for I-5, and if I work with them I think this will turn into a master’s thesis.
Another project I did was redesigning the street I use every day, 15th Avenue in the U-District; it’s a bit more realistic, so I’ve been attempting to get the City to take a closer look at it. I have another article idea that would explore the expansion of the Seattle Streetcar network. At the same time I’ve criticized other “public realm” projects, such as the Seattle gondola, and felt free to become more opinionated while using facts and doing background research.
This summer I am tentatively planning a podcast series not about my own views and activities, but the interests and projects of my fellow planning students. My cohorts have a variety of passions and exciting ideas about the future of city planning, and I think bringing their enthusiasm to The Northwest Urbanist is a great opportunity to give them exposure while enhancing this blog’s own content. Stay tuned, as school is almost out for the summer! If you have any suggestions or specific topics you’d like covered, please drop me a line.
Notebook and camera in hand, sometimes I feel like I need a press pass when I’m out and about. But I don’t want to feel obligated to simply report what’s happening; The Northwest Urbanist will continue to offer insight and differing perspectives on issues that affect the Puget Sound region and beyond.