photo by Maria Surawska
I haven’t updated in a couple of months, and instead of letting the blog slip away into the nether regions of the virtual world without a final post, I decided that it would be best to have some closure as to why I’m calling it quits.
I started this blog in November 2011 for a few reasons. The main reason was that I felt like there was a void in online resources/blogs about the Logan Square area. “Hyperlocal” blogs as journalism/marketing folks call them, are blogs that focus on a very niche readership, generally a specific neighborhood or region of a city. Cities like NYC and DC have had hyperlocal blogs for several years, and many of the blogs had developed loyal readerships and generated enough advertising dollars to make them a full time venture for their editors. Chicago had Gapers Block, the Chicago Reader and a few other alt-zine-style blogs/websites, but neighborhood oriented sites were still fairly new and the good ones that did exist (the Brown Line Media blogs, and Uptown Update) were mostly dedicated to neighborhoods on the northside. Other small neighborhood blogs were beginning to pop up left and right, and in a virtual land grab I decided that I would like to try to be the Logan Square guy.
photo by Flickr user blastcap
The other reason why I wanted to create this blog was because it is a great way to get involved in the community. Starting a blog or working with an existing site is really a great way to meet the movers and the shakers in your community. It’s always a great way to feature local artists, interesting artifacts, unique architecture, historical anecdotes, festivals, and all the fun cultural things going on. Running a neighborhood blog in a way, is almost like writing a historical account on a small segment of the Chicago population and keeping that record in a linear, easy to navigate system. Honing your written voice is a big challenge, but exciting when you discuss ideas and issues that others are passionate about, and when a constructive dialogue ensues. It takes a lot of patience and dedication to build an online community, and I am certain that anyone who has done it has learned a lot about their neighborhood and themselves in doing so.
Since Chiboulevards began, there have been a number of newer sites to pop up that are covering the same turf. Sites like Patch and DNAinfo Chicago do excellent work covering the neighborhoods in Chicago and have more robust operations. These sites have dedicated staff who are compensated to perform daily updates, editing, and discussion board moderation. Other sites like Everyblock, the Chicago News Cooperative and Windy Citizen, have shut down in the last year or two. And beyond the bigger names, there’s a few other Logan Square-centric blogs that have developed followings of their own, posting regular updates about business openings and events. There’s this constant ebb and flow with the hyperlocal scene, and it finally seems like the dust is settling a bit. It’s really easy for someone like myself to purchase a domain name, create a blog and post clickable content, but to keep it up on a daily basis is quite a task and requires a considerable amount of time and resources. It’s also difficult to make a living off this kind of work. And with so many Logan Square focused sites/blogs, it often feels a little bit saturated when many of these outlets are posting the same exact events, links, photos, etc. Watching the readership organically grow was certainly an exciting thing, but being distracted by competition for hits and clicks with sites that essentially had the same purpose and mission as this one was not the main reason why I initially started the blog. I think at some point, it’s more productive to think about how collaboration can benefit the readers and the community rather than preserving/promoting your “brand”.
photo by AJ LaTrace
I’ve been a resident of the area for a number of years now and have enjoyed being a part of the neighborhood and watching it change. I think what makes the neighborhood unique is the strong sense of civic engagement, the creativity of the residents, a desire to support small business, and the diversity. Logan Square really is a great example of how a neighborhood can be self sufficient. And in some ways, it’s a bit of a caricature of itself.
I’m going to leave the blog online as a resource to folks who want to go back and review prior posts. There’s a lot there, so have fun with checking out events you may have attended or seeing images of the area posted by neighbors who added their photos to the Chiboulevards Flickr pool.
I will continue updating the Chiboulevards Facebook page with content that is related to the Logan Square and Avondale neighborhoods, so if you haven’t liked it yet, feel free to do so. I also plan on staying involved in the Chicago online community, just in different ways. I think there are still a lot of ways to continue contributing to the digital space in Chicago neighborhoods, it just may not be through writing my own blog.
Thanks for all of those who read, commented, emailed tips and provided their photos to this blog. And thank you to those who offered insight to me along the way as I navigated the hyperlocal blogging world.