Every City Needs a GGW

Lydia DePillis has the cover story in this week's Washington City Paper. Her 4000-word essay is a generally well-written and in-depth look at David Alpert and Greater Greater Washington.

(from Flickr user thisisbossi)

I've been sporadically writing for Greater Greater Washington in the first few weeks since I moved to DC, but I've been a loyal reader since 2008. GGW is a blog that's become so influential that it's easy to overlook the fact that, 3 years ago, it didn't even exist. It's a blog that I'm lucky to have in my city.

GGW is a blog that every city needs to have. Unfortunately, few do.

If there is any city where this kind of project could be successful, Washington DC is the city. This is a place with the perfect combination of highly educated, progressive and politically wonkish individuals. There is no doubt to me that GGW is an asset to Washington DC. Whether you agree or disagree with the general opinion of the blog, its existence brings issues to light that, in other cities, people don't talk about.

The last two years that I lived in Cleveland, I used to read GGW every day in my feed reader, and every day I would imagine how much better Cleveland could be if it had a powerful voice speaking intelligently on urbanist issues. Every city has a handful of bloggers covering a handful of topics; but anyone who's attempted to write a serious or analytical blog as a hobby can tell you it's not at all easy. Many blogs don't have the resources to be influential or to produce the important content that needs to be read.

From my perspective, David has accomplished something that few urbanist bloggers have been able to: he's established himself as a legitimate and respectable source on urbanist topics. And by extension, he's established his contributors as similarly legitimate sources. In other places, these writers would be written off as 'just another blogger'. In DC, they're viewed as an influential group of policy advocates.

I have a lot more faith in the future of urbanism in Washington DC than I do in a lot of cities. Greater Greater Washington helps inspire that confidence.


    I sometimes wish I could be that for Greensboro, but of course a blog like our personal sites is only so good by itself. Maybe one day Streetsblog or even David himself will help build a national network of similar sites. I'll be glad to hold down NC(alone with Mary Newsom, Yonah on occasion and others who blog in that realm)