Much has happened this year.
The other day I was out and about in the city, celebrating time with family and friends, when a dear reader came up to me and said, “Where have you been? I haven’t gotten a bulletin in my box in awhile.”
“I know, I know,” I said. “I’ve been really incredibly busy, and I skipped a week, but I’ll make it up in the next one, I promise.”
“Okay….” he said, a bit with scold, which I took with grace because yes, I missed sending a message about what’s going on with today’s the day Harrisburg.
But I really have been incredibly busy.
As many of you know, I was on the mayor-elect’s Transition Team, which was a six-week assignment. In particular, I was in charge of the Communications sub-committee on the city’s Website and Social Outreach. Our tasks were to analyze the current situation and make recommendations for improvement.
We met with the entire Communications Committee once a week for weeks in a row. Then our subcommittees met, gathered information, toured all parts of City Hall, and sent drafts of reports and suggestions to one another.
The reports are in to the soon-to-be Papenfuse Administration, and as I publicly stated once before……being on the mayoral Transition Team is not “being involved in politics.” It’s “being involved in government,” and yes, there can be a difference.
Our city needs all the help it can get.
On top of that, the ttdHBG website was being launched, tla Communications was getting rolling, and the normal deadlines, projects, and personal obligations hovered around.
It’s no easy thing to make Harrisburg better. But there’s such momentum out there to do it. There’s no better or more appropriate time for today’s the day Harrisburg to enter its next phase.
Some of you have been long time readers of today’s the day Harrisburg. Or as I like to write better than say it—ttdHBG.
If you have been reading “this blog” since the beginning, then you know it’s gone through its phases.
This past November, ttdHBG turned four years old. In that four years, it has evolved from a simple one page citizen’s blog to much more.
Not only does it provide more than it did before, the expectations and demands are higher, too.
That is an inspiration for a community-based source of information and news. It means the community wants more and the community is growing to be more. There are more questions about what’s going on and what’s happened. There are greater curiosities about what the virtues and challenges of the city are. There are more requests for contacts and more searches for things to do.
All of that directs what the new website offers and how it functions.
It’s been in the works for months, since June when Adam Brackbill of Render Innovations, located at StartUp on N3rd Street, and I first sat down to talk about ways to design the next ttdHBG website.
It was perfect timing.
The blue dot was about to turn into the checkmark (if you don’t know that story, you can read it here: What’s Up With the New Logo?). With the new logo, came a need for a new website because it just makes sense to change together.
This has been an ambitious project for both Adam and me. We’re not quite done yet. But we’re getting there.We have labored, had trials, and are still tweaking. Bear with us as you’ll see slight adjustments made here and there over the next few weeks. Also let us know what you think and how it works for you.
It was designed to be used.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had positive feedback and helpful insight and suggestions. Users are clicking around and posting information. Please do the same. This site is for the people of Harrisburg, so don’t hesitate to let us know of its effectiveness.
As we all work with it, I’ll highlight ways to engage with the new site. I’ll ask readers to experiment with us. Use the forums, use the comment section, and use the public services we’ve designed.
For now, though, please check out some of the improved and new features:
- The Calendar–much easier for users to input events and happenings
- The Directory–we’re still inputting places, but there are ways for businesses to input the info they want users to see
- The Harrisburg Collective Gallery–where the community can upload its images of the city
- Q&A–a forum for people to ask questions about Harrisburg to be answered by each other. The most popular questions will become an article by Tara Leo Auchey, editor
- Social Wall–stay connected to today’s the day Harrisburg’s tweets, posts, and writings
Overall, the new site represents the new approach to what ttdHBG can be for Harrisburg. News and information for the community, by the community.
The new people
The possibilities of ttdHBG are immense, and fortunately in 2014, I have partners to share that exploration and evolution with.
Over the past few months as Adam Brackbill took my website ideas, desires, needs, practicalities, and intents into the cyber world, I began to ask people to write for ttdHBG.
Who did I ask? I looked around the city and found people engaged, people willing to commit to at least six months span of time, and people who could fit into a routine of writing once a month. One by one I talked to them—some whom I had never met before—and I laid out the options and possibilities of doing this project together.
Ten people are in.
You have already met some of them. Starting in January, the columnists will write regularly on the theme of their column.
Here are faces & names:
Tanya Gordon– Having arrived here from Connecticut only a few years ago, Tanya has been engaged in making Harrisburg better from even before her move. From afar she built relationships to help her be more effective when she got here. She started The Empower Hour Girls Program and sat on the board of the Central Allison Hill Community Center. She cares about Harrisburg even though her roots aren’t here. She gets it, she sees it, she feels it—the need and potential of this city. She’ll be writing a column entitled “CommUnity.”
Jeb Stuart — This is a familiar name to many inside and outside of the city. He has long worked with the city and with the city to boost its urban presence as a historical asset of not just the region, but of the state. He has a long list of skills, experiences, and accomplishments not the least of which is that he worked for four City of Harrisburg Administrations from 1974 through 2010. He knows this city and loves it. He’ll be writing a column entitled “The Urban Aesthetic.”
Jeremy Ritch–If you follow him on twitter and like him on facebook, you get an idea of what Jeremy is about. And that’s a lot. He has a lot of thoughts, a lot of knowledge, and a lot of interesting stories about what he sees and cares about. Not originally from around here, he grew up in Cleveland giving him a basis for urban living. He’ll be writing a column entitled, “That’s Ritch.”
Jen Merill, city resident, writer, and co-owner of Stash, will be writing a column called, “A City Presence.” Jeremiah Chamberlin will write a column about his point-of-view of the city in its recovery as a resident and landlord in Downtown Harrisburg called “Rebuilding Harrisburg.”
Also joining us are some people you already know because they’ve published on here before. They include:
- Marcia Cavanagh, who will be continuing her weekly “Thursday Thing To Do”
- Juelz Davenport, “Urban Versifier”
- Kyle Shenk, “Beyond Riverfront: Exploring Harrisburg’s Parks & Trails”
- Louis Bianco, “Citizen Beautiful”
Locally well-known and well-liked Dani Fresh, photographer, will be joining the team and you can see her first post here.
Me? I’ll continue to administer the whole thing, act as editor, collect news and post it, but I’m adding a weekly “tla blog,” going back to how ttdHBG started, just me and my city living point-of-view, research, and engagement.
If there was ever a time and place to do something new, experiment and try, Harrisburg is it. And as I’ve been saying for a long time, it’s up to us to make this capital city along the river better. Hopefully, today’s the day Harrisburg helps do just that.
Thank you for being patient. To a new year, new ways in Harrisburg!
~Tara Leo Auchey, creator & editor ttdHBG
Another change: A New Year brings a new approach to Harrisburg: ttdHBG on PennLive