Blogging to Glory



Garden bloggers have some moments of glory, I suppose.  It’s nice to have your blog cited for Best Writing or what-not in the occasional contest.  And some garden bloggers have been noticed by book publishers and years later and for almost no money, seen their names on the covers of actual books.  (And more power to them!  I’m in awe of the attention span mustered to complete a project like that.)

But dare I say, none of us are going to see our pithy blog posts lead to being named Outstanding  Citizen of the Year in our town, which is exactly what happened to a blogger last weekend in my town of Greenbelt, Maryland.  Here’s how it happened.

Computer engineer and amateur photographer Eric Zhang had only lived here a year or so when he got the brilliant idea of honoring this New Deal-created town in its 75th anniversary year by photographing life here in all its aspects, in the style of New Deal photographers like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange.  The result was terrific – the blog Greenbelt 2012 with over 300 posts and thousands of photos.

A slew of residents campaigned for Eric to be named Outstanding Citizen this year and sure enough, his name was called and proclamations were read in his honor.  I happen to write a blog about Greenbelt myself, so I wrote this story about the event.

That was Friday of Labor Day weekend.  By Monday Eric was riding in Greenbelt’s popular Labor Day Parade in a position of honor, far ahead of congressional Minority Whip Steny Hoyer or our three democratic candidates for governor (this being a super-blue state, one of whom will surely win).  Photos of all that are here, in “Scenes from a Labor Day Parade.

A Town Becomes Aware of a Blog!

Funny things happen when a blogger is named Outstanding Citizen.  People are asking:  “What’s the link?”  “What’s a blog?” And not understanding that his blog lasted exactly one year and has been dormant since the beginning of this year, by design, declaring “Let’s get Eric to put that on his blog!”

I moved to Greenbelt just as Eric’s blog started and it taught me a lot about the place, especially putting names to faces.  So I’ve missed it since it became dormant, though thankfully it is still online.  (If a publisher were to turn the blog into a coffee-table book, it would have to go offline.)  One of those proclamations about Eric’s accomplishment referred to his blog as being there for perpetuity, for each successive generation of Greenbelters, etc.  Um, who’s going to pay the server fees for those future generations to enjoy it?  Again, there’s a learning curve here but hopefully a grant will be awarded to indeed keep the blog live.

Clearly everyone wants Eric to continue blogging – somewhere – so I’ve invited him to post occasionally to Greenbelt Live, the blog I started a year ago to help me get to know the town and also to give me a purpose when I’m attending local events.

Also? I was dying to blog about something other than gardening.  Nothing personal, but it’s been eight years.  And I’m psyched that with Eric on board and lots more residents wanting to read a blog about itself, maybe my multi-author community blog will continue to build an audience and, I don’t know, make a difference?  At least it’s fun for me, covering whatever seems interesting and writing in a personal style.  Besides events, we had Q&As with the yoga teachers in town – very illuminating!  I’m currently profiling the houses of worship in and near town – surprisingly illuminating.  And as a rank-amateur birder, I’ll learn a lot by collecting photos and IDs of wild animals seen around town and nearby and putting them in pages on the blog.

Anybody Else Blogging about Not-Gardening?

I’d love to hear from other garden bloggers who also blog about something else – how it is different?  I know lots of blogging niches are more lucrative than gardening, which is no surprise, since we’re not a swag-heavy segment of the blogosphere and most garden-related merchandise is bought in person, not by clicking on a blog.  (A fashion blogger I follow – don’t laugh; she’s a neighbor – has lots of advertising and gets paid-post gigs through BlogHer.  News to me.)

So my apologies to the strict-constructionists who will admonish me to Stay on Topic, but I’m really curious about other types of blogging.  The Not-Gardening type.  Anybody have something to report?


  1. I have started a blog on crocheting but I am about to change its title to make it more broader for crafting. I am finding it much harder to write as I am writing about something new to me and a new audience. It doesn’t flow as well and I don’t think I have found my voice yet or my confidence. I wonder if this is how I felt when I started garden blogging or whether my expectations are very different now

  2. I didn’t get a parade, but in 2009, I was recognized by our local Community Board for “exemplary service” to our neighborhood of about 100,000 residents. I had written a series of posts to analyze, critique, and explain the rezoning proposal that has then just been approved. Zoning clearly isn’t gardening, but it is, indirectly, about landscape, so it was still sort of on-topic for my blog.

    The CB does these recognitions annually. My co-honorees were another blog. It was the first time bloggers were recognized in these awards.

      • Land-use regulations, frequently containing:
        Which areas of the city/county are reserved for residential, commercial, etc., uses.
        Minimum yard space if you want to keep animals.
        What you can grow (vegetables in the front yard?), including maximum height of hedges and fences, in geneal and for drivers’ safety seeing around corners.

  3. I’ve wanted to start a blog based on the environmental issues here in the Great Plains (GMO big ag, oil pipelines, Ogalala Aquifer being drained, small towns vanishing, plowing up last prairies, etc) but it seems like more work than I have time for — another diversion, esp since I manage 4 Facebook pages already. But it might garner me more attention than my rants about native plant gardening. Well shoot, no doubt it would.

  4. I’ve found learning about birds to be a great offshoot of gardening, and the two are obviously interwoven in interesting ways (what flowers produce seed heads that attract wildlife, for example). Learning about avian life can also be an entry into investigating the ecology of the larger region. These are perhaps clichéd examples but are topics which have been natural offshoots of my gardening and provided me with some new things to obsess over. 🙂

    • Liz, your comment gives me an opportunity to suggest that gardeners keep their “dead” flowers around and in the ground even after they no longer look pretty. Coneflowers and monarda, for example. This year the beautiful yellow finches in my yard are spending many hours perched atop the seed heads eating away. I know that many gardeners hack down these plants at this time of year, but the birds would be so happy if we just left them alone.

  5. Ironic that I should read this post so shortly after I had been musing that my blog, ostensibly about gardening, has ended up being more about the animals that I’m finding living with us on our property than it has been about gardening. I, too, venture totally off-topic occasionally when I find something eating at me mentally. On those latter occasions, I do try to give folks who might ONLY be interested in plants and animals a warning beforehand!

  6. Perhaps Eric’s blog could be turned into some sort of permanent exhibit in a town building/historical museum–perhaps a video exhibit? I’m sure newcomers, visitors, and long-term residents alike would find it interesting.

  7. Yep, I have a personal blog. My thoughts and feelings about life, marriage, sex and all that. I have discovered I can only write it in winter, the garden and thinkingardens and a garden blog being too demanding for any extras to come in.

    But I love writing it, and I love writing about something other than gardening, and discussing the issues with the commentators.

    I can see the merits of the blog you refer to. Then there’s this other thing: conversations about things we care about, across the world and continents, with people we’d never otherwise meet.

    The only problem really is letting them know you’re around…sooooo many blogs, of all kinds!!!

    O – the blog, (better let you know I’m around) is Veddw Voice =

    Sometimes it is so good to escape from the garden… Xxx

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