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The blog in review: 2009 reflections and 2010 resolutions

January 3, 2010

One of the things I find intriguing about blogging is seeing who reads what, where they come from, and how they found their way to this under-the-radar blog. City Homestead began as a journal of sorts to chronicle our adventures as first-time homeowners; the main purpose at the beginning was just to have a place to post photographs of our meager attempts at home improvement for our families, with an occasional photo of our then-new dog thrown in for good measure. In the past year and a half, though, this blog has morphed into a more multi-purpose space for thoughts and reflections on a wide array of things.

Since 2009 marks my first full year blogging, I thought it would be interesting to put together a top-ten hit list. This is a little skewed towards posts earlier in the year because mid-year I switched the blog feed to allow people to read full posts without clicking through to the site, but it still gives a taste of what’s on people’s minds. Here’s what you’ve been reading about this year:

10. Big Black Dog: Our dog continues to be infinitely more popular than just about anything else I write about (which is funny given how infrequently I post about him!) Yes, I promise—more photos in the year to come!

9. Where to get married in Oakland and Berkeley: Okay, I put this up primarily because the legwork to put this list together for our summer wedding was so exhausting that I didn’t want anyone else to have to reinvent the wheel. Who knew so many people wanted to know?!? Astoundingly, this post—which went up in November—has drawn more visits in two months than most posts draw over a year. Huh. I’ll continue to add to it as we learn more about various venues and other local resources.

8. All about Auto Row: The two-year Auto Row planning process launched this past year, and I’ve been excited by the number of people who are extraordinarily interested in the future of our little corner of Oakland. I like writing about planning and I like writing about the ‘hood, so obviously I love writing about this project (and there will certainly be more to come on that front in 2010).

7. Rain barrels: We’ll get these done soon, I promise! The posts on rain barrels, lawn replacement, and other eco gardening strategies draw a lot of readers from out in the wide blue yonder. I’ve also seen the number of people searching for these topics rise month by month, which I suspect (hope?) reflects growing concern and interest in living more sustainably. As we tackle more projects along these lines, I’ll post more on them, and will also try to get some better step-by-step guides up in the future.

6. Mapping Oakland: If I combined the numbers for all of the Oakland mapping and neighborhood posts, they would probably trump some of the things higher on the list. A lot of people out there were especially intrigued by Robert Lemon’s neighborhood boundaries project, and I’m excited to finally see his results in the not-too-distant future. It’s also nice to know people like reading about things like this, because I love writing about them (and researching Oakland history in general—it’s good to put that history degree to work!) so it gives me a good excuse to spend some quality time at the library.

5. Dine About Oakland: The Dine About Oakland series continues to be one of the more popular things I write about. That works out well, because it’s also one of the things that’s really fun to write about (and of course you can’t beat the primary research involved!) My main challenge here is to avoid posting back-to-back restaurant reflections, which is a nice problem to have!

4. The Parkway Theater: The closing of the Parkway was a big deal in Oakland and especially in the neighborhoods around the lake, and the series of posts last spring here and on other Oakland blogs drew a lot of readers. I still get periodic hits on this one from the I Love the Parkway site, which makes me happy because it’s good to know people are still thinking about the theater and its future even as it sits shuttered nearly a year later.

3. How to earthquake-proof your home: Not surprising in earthquake country, I guess, but this 2008 post got a lot of love this year too. I still haven’t posted photos from our seismic retrofit, so I’ll try to snap some soon. I often forget about old posts after they’re up, so it’s good to have a reminder to revisit and reflect on them.

2. Building a bungalow garden: This is an interesting one at number two for the year. This post gets almost daily hits months after it first went up, which may be due in part to the fact that with a couple of notable exceptions, no one is really writing about bungalow gardens. (Hey landscape architects and historians, here’s a great book idea!) I got a little sidetracked on garden planning this year, but as I return to it and get deeper into the research, I’ll put up more historic plans.

And last but not least:

1. Thoughts on a fractured city: One of the first posts of 2009, this essay got picked up by a lot of fellow bloggers, who are largely responsible for drawing so much traffic to it. Writing this in the aftermath of the Oscar Grant killing was a really a therapeutic process for me as I worked through my own feelings and frustrations about the shooting and its aftermath. Initially, I didn’t intend it for the blog at all and posted it on a whim, so I was a little surprised to see the reception it got—I heard from a lot of people both on and offline, and it helped to discover how many other Oaklanders struggled with the same emotions. This post had the interesting side effect of drawing a lot more local readers to the blog, though; up until then the majority of readers had been folks from the house blogger community. That’s given me an incentive to broaden the scope of what I write about to include a lot more posts about Oakland history and planning, two things I love to learn about.

So there you have it. This year, I’m resolving to try to write, and therefore post, more regularly, in part because 2010 promises to be filled with craziness (of the good kind, hopefully), and in a funny way writing and other forms of journaling go a long way in keeping me sane and happy. I’m also hoping to carve some time out to delve a little more deeply into some of my history projects, and to do a better job documenting our house projects in general. (Okay, and also to do a better job finishing the house projects I start…) That should be more than enough to keep me busy with all the other projects running this year.

Happy 2010!

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One comment

  1. Not surprised the wedding post is popular: expect it to get more so. I wrote a little pictorial instruction on how to make tissue packets for our wedding in 2003, and it is still the #1 served web page on our server. I still get e-mails regularly about lots of things on our wedding page. Wedding stuff has a lot of traction. It’s crazy.



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