Photo by Malcolm Kenton.

Almost 6 years ago today, I stumbled across a new urbanism blog, and my immediate reaction was, “why couldn’t I have thought of a creative name like that?” But more importantly, I was amazed at how great the content was, and how much of it the single author turned out. I subscribed right away.

From the start, Greater Greater Washington was a great introduction to the issues. At the time, I was in planning school at the University of Maryland, and I’d only lived in the region for about 7 months. But very quickly, I was learning all sorts of things about planning and policy in the District and the region as a whole.

Over time, David was joined by Michael Perkins, Jaime Fearer, and others. The coverage of urbanism and policy continued to get better as the site grew as more people joined the cause. I came on board in December of 2008 after David asked to crosspost a piece I had written wondering if President-elect Obama was going to be progressive on transportation.

Over time, Greater Greater Washington grew. More contributors joined, and we were producing more and more content. David was the sole editor at the time, and while his demanding standards made sure our quality never suffered, the workload was too much for David alone. In the summer of 2010, he asked the contributors for editorial help, and I volunteered, because as a planner I could see the positive impact GGW was having. And I didn’t want to lose it.

Today, I know of several elected officials who read the site regularly, and I don’t know a planner who doesn’t. But our impact isn’t just because planners and politicians read the site. It’s because you do. It’s because we have been successful in getting more people educated about the issues and helping them get involved in the process.

I certainly wasn’t alone in wanting to help. As the workload grew beyond what David and I could handle, other contributors volunteered to become editors. But they weren’t alone. Because you have always stepped up. Several times, Breakfast Links has been in trouble of disappearing. And every time, new readers volunteered to take on the most difficult (and most popular) part of GGW: curating links.

Since its inception, Greater Greater Washington has been working to change the dialogue. Not only by creating a forum for discussion here, but also by getting new groups involved in the process. Planning is complex and can be daunting for people who haven’t been involved before. But building our communities is something that everyone should have a role in. GGW has made planning more accessible to many.

I think that’s the true value of the site. Greater Greater Washington has served as a source of education for many, and it’s helped make planning more accessible to all. Helping everyone have a say in how to make their communities better. Greater Greater Washington has provided many people with an accessible introduction to the issues facing growth: from gentrification to streetcars, from inclusionary zoning to fare policy, from budget policies to fantasy Metro maps.

In order to keep growing and to keep serving the region, we need your help again. Hiring an editor to fill Dan Reed’s shoes is a necessary step to allow the site to continue to grow, and really just to stay where we are. If you can’t wait for Breakfast Links to go live every morning, if you enjoy the dialogue we foster, if you value the impact that GGW has on building a better Washington, I hope you’ll support us however you are able.

Every little bit counts. And your support will help us continue to work for a stronger, more diverse, more walkable, more livable region.

Tagged: meta

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master’s in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Dupont Circle. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is an employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.