Some Thoughts on Ten Years of Blogging about the District Part One

me
Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

Well the anniversary party is a week away [RSVP if you can or if you just want to have a reminder in your Facebook] and I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect back on ten years of blogging about the District of Columbia.

Number one. And I always say this number one whenever I do interviews or am on a panel or anything like that. And I emphasize this because it took me years to learn. The best part of living in DC are the neighborhoods. The best part is not the one neighborhood you live in. It is the sum of all the neighborhoods.

When I first started the blog, then known as Prince of Petworth I was obsessed with Petworth, Columbia Heights and U Street. And it took me a few years to realize how great other parts of the District were. For example anyone who doesn’t take a minute or two to visit NoMa, Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront, SW Waterfront, Ivy City, H Street, NE (obviously), Georgetown, yes Georgetown, Capitol Hill etc. – well you are crazy. The growth the District has seen over the last ten years is jaw dropping. You are doing yourself a disservice by having a close minded mentality.

Number two. There are always (at least) two perspectives. I find that everyone likes to generalize. Kidding, kidding – but some folks do like to generalize. For example – all District government is a disaster. All MPD officers are the worst. All new restaurants are overpriced. All one people are this way and all other people are that way. And there is no room for nuance. This is not healthy and this is not a proper reflection of the reality in which we live. There are good cops. There are terrible cops. There are good bus drivers and terrible pepco interactions. And vice versa. Now believe me, I see and hear about the bad every single day. Even so, personally I have had tremendously positive interactions with MPD, DPW, 311, the Mayor’s Office, some Council Member’s offices, even DCRA. Does this mean that they are infallible? Far from it. Does this mean that my life is all rainbows and lemonade? Of course not. But it also means that not everything is shit. And if you’re unwilling to factor in nuance, exceptions, different perspectives then there is no point in having a discussion at all.

Number three. Running a blog is very very challenging and very very rewarding. I’m always asked how do I do it? And how have I done it successfully? I’ll try to answer those questions now. I have no editor, no boss, no colleagues, nobody really except my cat dingo who is growing old and now sleeps most of the time. All that is to say, everything I do, I do because I am personally interested in it. For example there are some who post pandas or cute animals because they think it’ll get lots of clicks. Of course it does. But when I post pandas I’m posting about them because I personally think they are cool as shit. And it’s gravy that other people think so too. I really love those fucking guys. I’ve also said this a million times, the afternoon animal fix is the best part of my working day every single day. Period. Truth. I remember one competitor of mine said I only do the animal fix as click bait. And that is the difference between them and me. I do it because I genuinely love pets. It grew organically out of a fun summer competition. They do it because they think it will help their metrics. My guiding principle has always been – is this thing interesting to me? Can this question genuinely help someone out? Everything I do, I do with passion and for a purpose. Even when it’s just looking for cool doors, a funny sign or a sweet city ride.

How have I done it successfully? Well, I am slightly insane. And I’m incredibly driven. I have posted when I had food poisoning. I have posted when I had the flu. I have posted right after my first child was born. I have not taken a day off since 2009 (days I’ve been away from the computer I have pre-loaded all posts.) Today I log between 10-20 miles walking every Saturday or Sunday, pre-kids it was even further. Walking with no purpose but walking to see what I can find. I have been doing that for 10+ years. Happily. I love walking. I did it even before the blog. It is truly like breathing to me. But I also walk when I’m sick, when I’m tired, when I’m depressed, when I just want to watch football. I do it. I always do it. I don’t go online and see what other people have found. I wanna see what I can find. You can not fake passion and sincerity. Well you can not fake it for ten years. People will see right through you. What drives me most is to make sure this site is sincere and true to who I am.

Finally, it is you. I have also said this a million times. This site is nothing without you, even the people who make me want to smash my head through the computer from time to time. But seriously, from the photographers, to the tipsters, to those asking questions, to those providing answers, to those simply providing an ear, a bit of compassion, a bit of understanding, a different perspective. We are not all perfect. Some in our lovely District like to portray themselves as the smartest, the coolest, the hippest, the prettiest, the best. Well, I know I am not those things. And many of you know that you are not those things. And, well, it’s just nice to have a place where we can be ourselves and ask genuine questions and get genuine answers and advice and enjoy a beautiful fucking flower from time to time and vent from time to time and God damn it, show off our pets from time to time. Everything on this site is not for everyone. That is for sure. But I do hope there is something for everyone, every day or else I will not be happy.

I truly cannot say how grateful I am for this opportunity you have given me to be a professional blogger for all these years. It is crazy. It feels crazy writing that. But it is very important for me to know that you guys know – I could not do it without you. So that’s how I’ll leave part one. Thank you PoPville. You are PoPville. I am a part of PoPville. But everybody commenting or just reading, we are all PoPville. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

100 Comment

  • Thanks for all of your hard work Dan. I’ve been a big fan since ~2008.

  • Congrats on 10 years!! Thanks for keeping us all up to date on DC happenings. Popville is an invaluable resource for us.

    Question out of curiosity- What’s your daily foot traffic on Popville?? I always wondered how many people visit your site. (not sure if this needs to stay a secret or not)

  • Can’t believe it’s been 10 years! Thanks Dan for all you do!

  • Tom

    Thank you for sharing your worldview via blog with the rest of us. Very cool stuff in here, and I greatly appreciate it.

    • Tom

      Follow-up question: How long before a new pair of shoes generally wears out for you?

      • Prince Of Petworth

        I usually go through a pair of shoes every two months or so. Interestingly it is not the tread that wears out it is the inner structure – like the arch of the shoe collapses. I know I need a new pair whenever my knees starting hurting after a relatively small walk. By the by – anyone who has a question about me or the site – fire away – I will answer all questions!

        • Tom

          It’s usually the inner structure with me too, haha

        • Curious: roughly what percentage of comments would you say you moderate out? Out of those you moderate, what percentage is your generic racist WTOP-type drivel?

          • Prince Of Petworth

            It really depends on the day. A few years ago there used to be an huge number of racist comments (actually committed by just a few people) and it took me a while to figure out how to stop them. On any given day I’d say 10 comments are deleted and half are probably racist and half are those people being incredibly mean. One thing that pains me the most about deleting some comments is when somebody makes an incredibly interesting point and then end the comment with “you a**hole” or “you idiot” or something like that. And then I have no choice but to delete since I will not edit somebody’s comments. But to answer your question it really varies day to day depending on the subject of the posts.

          • Interesting – thanks for answering! Makes sense that it depends on the nature of the topic being discussed – I actually kinda figured that number would be higher.

  • “We are not all perfect.” – ugh, there he goes speaking in absolutes. Hypocrite! πŸ˜‰

  • Emmaleigh504

    Popville is my favorite part of the day, particularly the Afternoon Animal Fix. Thanks for all you do!

  • Does it make me a sentimental sap that I miiiight have just had a little tear spring unwillingly to my eye?
    >
    >
    In all seriousness, thank you a million times over. This site, even when it makes me want to hurl my computer across the room, is a bright spot in my day, a source of fun and interest, and has enabled me to make some real wonderful friendships – in real life and on line. I have gotten so much amazing and helpful advice, and challenged to look at other perspectives, and I like to think I’m a better person for it. Thank you for 10 years, and I’ll be at the Anniversary party to toast to another 10 years!

  • I just wanted to say that about a month before I moved to DC over a year ago, I happened to meet a friend of a friend that lived here. I asked her if she had any tips for the move and instead of telling me about awesome restaurants or museums or how to navigate Metro, she told me about Popville. And I’m so glad she did! As a newcomer, having instant access to this wealth of knowledge about things going on in town and new places I should explore outside of my own (pretty darn cool) neighborhood and what are the issues that people here care about has made me feel at home much more quickly. It’s also been really fun to “get to know” some of the more frequent commenters and has made what otherwise could seem like a big, uncaring city (I moved from a town of 10,000) into much more of a community. So thanks, what you do is appreciated.

      • Dan, have you ever been picked up by a national news outlet or highlighted in some way in posts/magazines/etc. about DC? This “insider” blog must have gotten to the masses outside of DC as a great resource for local information by now.

    • I’ve lived here for 13 years, and have read Popville for awhile (although I’m a new commenter) and I ALWAYS recommend that people check out the site. Half my conversations start with, did you see on Popville, or I read this story on Popville…Kudos to your friend for sharing with you, and kudos to Dan for creating such a great community here!

      • Tsar of Truxton

        Haha, my friends and I are constantly emailing/IMing different Popville posts to each other, even though we all know that the others are equally obsessed and won’t miss the post. It is almost like a competition to prove you are the first person to see a knew post :-).

  • Dan, awesome post! As an aside: I hope you use Fitbit!!

  • skj84

    Thank you Dan. I have been a member of the community since at least 2012, and Popville is one of the best parts of my day. I love the conversations that come from this site. You truly rock!

  • Congratulations…. absolutely a daily ritual for me. Thank you!

  • Congratulations on 10 years.

  • Awesome! Reader since 2007! Love this blog, helps me stay in the know!

  • Thanks for all the work you do around here Dan! PoPville keeps me company when I’m stuck at my terrible, lonely job. And Animal Fix is the best!

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Thanks so much for what you do, Dan. I can’t remember when I started to read your blog. It’s been forever and it was seeing an ad for Park Place that got me to try it out as a rental. Ultimately I decided it was a little too residential for me, so I moved to Union Row (14th st @ W). I am old enough to remember the riots of 1968 and I am now so proud of my fellow Washingtonians for bringing this city back to life. Seeing the old Esso gas station turn into condos will be very interesting — I remember when it exploded!
    *
    I’ll be at the party if I can figure out how to get there.

  • Dan,
    Thank you for uniting the DC community and encouraging respect among those who comment. I’ve learned a lot from you and others here. I also share what I know. I get a quicker response about breaking news in DC from readers of this blog then any news site.

    I love the Animal Fix, even though I would never have a pet. Keep it up!

  • Thank you! Thanks for this lovely message. What a wonderful space you’ve created for a wonderful DC community.
    Now, can you tell us – is it pronounced “Popville” or is it “P. O. P. ville”?

  • Thank you, Dan! This blog is truly awesome.

  • Damn good blog…

  • Thanks for all the hard work, Dan.

  • Congrats on 10 years and all of your hard work. This blog is so informative and enjoyable. Thank you for all you do!

  • That One Guy

    So when does the YouTube channel come into play? I’d like to think that doing a DC neighborhood review/tutorial/eat here type vlog would compliment the site very well.

  • Been a reader since 2009 when we bought a house in Petworth. You have been a great resource to me and my family. Your site would post about local crime and issues well before local news (If local news would cover it at all). We’ve since moved away because of work. When we got to our new location I immediately searched for some local bloggers to fill our Popville need. We quickly realized how spoiled we were and just how special your site is. There was nothing local that came even close. You should teach a course or something, as every town needs a Popville! We continue to follow your site as we still own our house in DC and it’s helpful to keep up with happenings and goings. You provide a great service to the community – keep up the great work!!

  • Thanks, Dan! This blog has been an awesome and really tangible part of DC living for me since I started following it 9-10 years ago. The changes you’ve documented over those years are astounding, and your walkabouts into various neighborhoods have inspired me to do the same though with much less frequency. Here’s hoping you continue to enjoy doing it for another ten years. Signed, a big fan and ~7 time caption contest winner.

  • palisades

    Best part of my day, Monday – Friday. I love impressing my friends with all the random crap I know about this awesome city, and passing it off like I found it out on my own. Wouldn’t have embraced DC as much as I have without you.

  • Thanks for keeping it going! I’m an admitted addict. You definitely provide both a service and entertainment, and I love carrying my t to far off places. Here’s to another 10!

  • Brooklyn Brawler

    Cheers to many more. I have suggested this blog to other DC residents time and time again.

  • northeazy

    Been a reader since 2009. This is my local news source. I do like commenting here because I feel comments are actually read here as opposed to the newspapers. My question, more of a request, is for you to review, or maybe even post, your censor policy. I feel many of comments are censored. Nothing racist or illegal, but sometimes controversial or political. I know you run a family friendly blog (although you do drop the occasional F-bomb) but I wish you had a more open commenting policy. I sometimes click on links just to read the comments. I can only imagine how many other comments get blocked. We all wish to reach the status of TextDoc where all our comments get through–but in the meantime, a little easing of the censors would be appreciated. Ill keep reading (and trying to comment) regardless.

  • When you do your walks, do you start from home or do you take a bus/metro/car to another neighborhood and start from there? I’m curious how you cover so many different areas mainly walking, which I think it’s awesome.

    Also, have you thought of doing a popville walk, instead of a happy hour? That could be fun!

  • Congratulations! I visit almost every day and always find something valuable, even if it’s just a quirky house!

  • Congratulations on 10 years, Dan. TEN Years! Incredible. Thank you for keeping an ear to the ground on this entire, beating city for that long and still finding passion in it. Thank you for your 1 million+ miles you’ve walked for this site, this community. And thank you for letting us brag about our pets πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to celebrate with you on Thursday! Cheers!

  • anonymouse_dianne

    PS I miss the frog (as on your shirt)!

  • Thanks for all that you do, this place is my favorite to stop by daily!

  • Thanks. Big congrats! Had a great great time bird watching Roosevelt island with ya. Love to do that again.. here’s to many more

  • This is late in the day, but congrats on 10 years, Dan. I know I’m relatively new (reader since fall 2013, poster since late 2014) and my weekdays just wouldn’t be the same without you. Cheers to another 10 years ahead and looking forward to seeing/meeting you all next week!

  • Great column! Congrats on 10 years of blogging. You’ve been an irreplaceable part of my DC time, which (for the second time) also started about 10 years ago. We’re very fortunate have some very good and somewhat different local blogs, as well as mostly healthy weekly newspapers to compensate for having a daily newspaper that has never really shown enough care about its community. So bring on the press releases for inane new “dining concepts”, the dreadful basement apartments, and the cute animals while attracting the newbies to DC and normal DC whiners who keep the rest of us amused with their clueless comments and reader requests.

  • I no longer live in DC, but I stay subscribed to your blog because I miss DC so much and this helps me keep connected to the city I love. Happy 10 years and thank you for your work!

  • Congratulations, and thank you! I’ve lost count of the new things to try I’ve learned of through your blog.

  • Thank you Dan for creating this space to rant and rave, admire pets and porches and so much more.
    .
    The genuine support offered to people who are experiencing personal or work challenges really is remarkable. Also the depth of knowledge – home repair and what to do in other cities/countries, recommendations on what books to read and bourbon to drink, recipes and reflections on living in DC.
    .
    And I love the fact that there have been so many unofficial (and official) happy hours plus other groups where PoPvillagers can meet the fine folks behind the usernames!

    • Also wanted to add that I’ve been a follower since just about the beginning, back in the day when this was a blog with no advertising, when R&R was only published twice a week and there was no afternoon animal fix!!

  • I’ve been a reader since 2008. Even though we moved to the Shenandoah Valley in 2013, I still visit the site everyday. I want to know what’s going in the city! πŸ™‚

  • I love the O st Barbie series!! I had no idea this was a one man show, that is impressive. I really love and value Popville for how it keeps me informed and the nice pick me up posts I always seek out in the middle of the day πŸ™‚

    Congratulations on 10 years!

  • Congrats on 10 years! This blog made me feel like a mini-celebrity when you featured my cat on Pet of the Day, well, I guess my cat was the mini-celebrity. Anyway. Thanks for all you do.

  • Keep it up Dan! Thanks for everything.

  • Thanks for all you Dan! It really is a great part of my day and was even before I ended up meeting people and making connections through it. I wish I could remember when I started reading, but I really don’t know.
    I’ve often thought that if I tried to do something like this it would be a miserable failure. You have a thick skin and a great sense of self to keep it how you want it and foster it into something so special.
    Congrats!

  • I started following PoP 9 years ago but fell out of the loop when I had my first daughter Poppy. I feel like so many of my life transitions that also happened to PoP around the same time (babies, neighborhood changes etc..) made me feel connected to the this city and blog. We love you Dan. Here’s to the next 10 . Also Sully is back from the dead and tuning in again.

  • I Dont Get It

    Thanks Dan for creating a fun and informative community! Congrats on 10 years!

  • Congratulations and thank you! I’ve gained a community of online friends and learned so much from everyone. Truly adore this community.

  • Allison

    I am so grateful for all your hard work, Dan! When I moved here 6 years ago, PoPville really helped me adjust to DC and made it feel like “home” instead of “strange place.” Since then I’ve lived in Columbia Heights, SW Waterfront, and finally now Takoma Park. And as I moved further away from the blog’s original epicenter, the blog expanded with me. And yet despite your expansion, what still makes your blog great is the attention to detail — you often focus on the little things no one else would think is “worth” posting about but that cumulatively make up our daily lives here. Thanks!

  • Dan, I have been a follower since the beginning and want to thank you for your hard work, passion and creativity! You have given this community a platform for sharing and expression, and that in itself is a gift. Further, some of your most simple posts always remind me to celebrate the small things and look at the beauty/good around us- I know sometimes it is hard in this city, but a must!

    Congrats on 10 years!

    • Follow-up here: I would very much like to buy a PoPville t-shirt, but either I miss the opportunity or just have been unable to figure out where to go. Kindly let me know…Any chance you can add some e-commerce to your site?!?!

      • Prince Of Petworth

        πŸ™‚ thank you for the kind words! There will be brand new special anniversary shirts (and the regular ones too) for sale at the 10 year anniversary party – next Thursday Nov. 10th at Boundary Stone in Bloomingdale. One day I’ll get an online store going!!

        • northeazy

          I have kid duty that night, but may try to go anyway! I think it would be really cool if people wore name tags with their handles. I have no idea who John is, but I certainly know FridayGirl

  • You have competitors?? Not in my eyes!
    Thank you for providing this wonderful service to our community. I aspire to see the beauty in the everyday the way you do.

  • Thanks, Dan! I start my morning by reading Popville. Congrats on all your success!

  • Thanks Dan! I have loved your blog since I moved here six years ago!

  • As someone trying to put down roots in DC for six years (and no where close to a “get-roots-quick” scheme of being able to afford to buy a home here!) it’s been really important to have Popville be such a steady and friendly force for maintaining a sense of community. I’ve got a deep skepticism of “online communities” being able to satisfy for the real thing in most contexts, but I do think your site has been able to do that for me and others struggling a bit with the traditional ways one binds themselves to a place. Thanks for all you do! And please keep it up!

  • I’m not sure when I started reading PoPville regularly — I think sometime in 2011? — but it’s a great resource. The posts are informative, there are many thoughtful and knowledgeable commenters, and there’s a nice community that’s sprung up around the Random Reader Rant and/or Revel. (And the unofficial happy hours, which we need to restart!)

  • And a +1 to “There are always (at least) two perspectives” and to recognizing the importance of “factor[ing] in nuance, exceptions, different perspectives.”

  • “I have not taken a day off since 2009.” Maybe I’ve been reading longer than I thought — I think I remember your being off for an extended period (and how there was almost a reader uprising in your absence). Was that when you were on your honeymoon?

  • I’ve lived in Petworth a long time, a native Washingtonian as well as longtime PoP reader&fan. Thanks for the constant updates, the local news, the Animal Fix, which has featured all my pets. Dan, I didn’t realize you really liked that! I figured you did that because readers really wanted it but you’re an animal lover!
    You’ve made your dream a reality, quitting a typical high-pressure DC job to blog about neighborhoods. Welcome to the good life. Love your blog. I go to it daily & have since the beginning. Thanks, Dan & keep it up.

  • Belated Congrats, Dan! I’ve been here since 08 or so. My favorite aspect is that you always keep things positive. Your sense of wonder and love for the city shines through. It sets you apart! Keep up the great work!

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