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I first stumbled across Greater Greater Washington when I wanted to see if there was a map that showed what Metro would look like once the Silver Line was built and opened.

I was very fortunate to be asking this question right around the same time David Alpert published one of the first fantasy maps of Metro. That way, I also learned about the Purple Line and other proposals.

I had recently become interested in Smart Growth and transit planning and I was excited to find out that there was a whole blog dedicated to these issues around the Washington area! I was also impressed with how the site looked that I assumed that it was part of a large national network (à la the “istaverse”) rather than a true labor of love by David and eventually many others.

The site quickly became a go-to for me and I got to see the site grow and actually start effecting change in the Washington area.

What’s more, GGW taught me how to do my own research and what to look for in various government and planning documents. That’s what led me to my first article when I wanted to make sure there was some coverage about Northern Virginia that I thought was lacking at the time. I sent in a completely unsolicited post and David immediately expressed his thanks and offered tons of help for that post and others.

As someone who isn’t a professional journalist or blogger, GGW gives me and others incredible access to reach a wide audience for issues that are important to me and to the community at large. This wouldn’t be achievable without the resources that GGW provides and will continue to provide.

Nowadays, my friends and family know that I’m an urban planning/transit nerd and they’ll ask me about what’s going on in DC area. When I answer them, I know that I’ll most likely have gotten my answer from GGW in one way or another.

GGW has a focus that is hardly matched anywhere else for the issues it covers. Things that are as basic to our lives as housing, transportation, and how our local governments make decisions that affect those things are barely covered on other sites. Options are even fewer for those of us who would like to see our communities become the best they can be with better transit, more walkability or smarter growth.

Yet GGW covers those issues all the time, and one can learn just as much from the comments as from the story! That’s a special thing indeed. Please consider giving to help the site continue to grow and educate readers worldwide about what’s going on in greater Washington.

Canaan Merchant was born and raised in Powhatan, Virginia and attended George Mason University where he studied English. He became interested in urban design and transportation issues when listening to a presentation by Jeff Speck while attending GMU. He lives in Burke.