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Four Greenbelt Bloggers Worth Checking Out

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An age-old custom in the blogosphere (as old as things can be in that world) is to link to other relevant bloggers in a blogroll, like this one on the Blog page of GreenbeltOnline listing all known Greenbelt bloggers. (So if you know of any blogs by a Greenbelt resident, let me know in a comment here and it’ll be added.)

Recently I’ve come across a terrific new bunch of Greenbelt bloggers, either newly blogging or newly known to me, so after adding them to the blogroll I asked how and why they got into blogging, and more…

Tom Adams at TomAdams.com/blog

“I decided to begin blogging after deciding to create a website. And I created the website because I’m working on a book about Bill and Lois Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. I was encouraged to have a website to let people know about the book. That seemed like a lot of work for a book, so I decided to broaden the focus with weekly posts on Critical Conversations that seem compelling for the times we live in.

“For the Conversations I chose four areas of focus that have been long-time interests of mine: spirituality and love, racial equity and social justice, recovery and growth, and leadership and transitions.

Tom with his wife Geraldine Adams

“I’ve written the most about leadership transitions because that was the focus of the last 20 years of my professional career – leadership transitions and succession in nonprofits. I’ve always written when time permitted on the other topics and retired to have time to devote to writing. So the weekly posts give me an opportunity to write about these topics and the connections between my personal and community life and the kind of world we have. In addition to the blog, my website includes a Resource section on each topic.

“To receive the weekly posts via email, just sign up at the bottom of this page.”

Asked about the mechanics of websites, Tom wrote that “I have a writing coach who introduced me to a web designer. I got some help, and using WordPress made it relatively easy.

Asked about challenges in blogging, he wrote that “I find it hard to develop an idea in the words available – I’m inclined to connect ideas and need to focus on one idea at a time. Some friends ask me to be more practical with more advice but I’m not inclined to the prescriptive.”

Robin Hawley Gorsline at The Naked Theologian

“I began this blog in March, 2011, when I was serving as a pastor in Richmond, Va. It had a different name than it does today and it was in many ways about life in that community, and sometimes politics. I started it because I wanted to exercise my voice more than on Sunday morning in church.

“As the gay pastor of a Metropolitan Community Church, often called “the gay church,” and because I was active in LGBT advocacy and several other justice causes, I had become a bit of a public figure, beyond serving our 100 or so members and their families. I wanted to extend my reach, and to do so in some depth.

“This was my first experience with writing and publishing online. I came to really enjoy it and kept it up relatively regularly until late 2018, then resumed early this year.

Robin Gorsline (left) and his husband Jonathan Lebolt

“I was also beginning to understand and appreciate my love of writing. I have a book I want to write, but my pleasure in blogging and writing poetry keep interfering. Someday, I keep telling myself, I will do it all!

“The blog has had several names over those years, now called “The Naked Theologian.” With that name I am claiming two identities that are important to me—as a nudist/naturist and as a theologian. I rarely write about the former, although I have and will. I always write as a theologian, although not all that often directly about religion. I see myself as a public theologian, raising concerns about social and community values and practices.

“I share links to the blog posts to people I think might be interested, and I share new posts on my Facebook page, and sometimes Twitter. I want to do more. I encourage readers to subscribe so they receive a notification of every new post.

“I started the blog using WordPress and continued with the two other blogs I began later. I am not very tech-savvy, so the journey has had its hiccups. But I have a dear friend who is very savvy and he helps me through any issues.

“I usually write offline, copy the text on the platform, and then add pictures. Because we’re a visually oriented culture, I am a strong believer in having an image or two with each post. Plus it can be fun to sort through what’s available (without charge) online—sometimes a challenge, too!”

Ed Novak at Third Ed Novak.com

“I wrote a blog for work 10 or so years ago, mostly as an experiment in writing to see if it was a medium that my office could sustain. And the answer was no. I learned what a lot of people learned, which is that blogging can be hard work and time-consuming –  and there’s the pressure to keep providing content.

“A few years after that experiment, I had some time on my hands in the evening, so I started another blog under a pseudonym. It was fun, but I ran out of steam as my day job became more time-consuming.

“The blog I currently maintain, ThirdEdNovak, is a creative outlet for my writing jones. Retired and observing as many pandemic protocols as I can, I find myself with the time and the inspiration. Between the presidential election and COVID-19, there is a lot for me to reflect on and write about. I use WordPress — and I know that I have not yet mastered it.”

Matt Sickle at The Monument Blog

MonumentBlog is an extension of my graduate thesis work, which explored nontraditional forms of commemoration in Landscape Architecture. I am a professional  landscape architect, but my work only engages monuments occasionally. So, MonumentBlog is a place where I can focus on commemoration and related design ethics.

“Having a blog gives me a feeling of freedom and agency. At work, I’m accountable to my boss and clients. With the blog, I have no editors, it’s just me thinking out loud, trying to figure things out on my own.

“Over time, I hope that the abstract problems that I think about on the blog will help inform other landscape architects and myself as we confront ethical and stylistic problems in memorial design. My audience is limited for the blog, but sometimes I get nice comments from friends. 

“I created the blog with Weebly. It was easy but I wish I had used SquareSpace instead – the template could use a refresh. I’d never written online before.

“I just wish I had more time to dedicate to the blog. I post a couple of times each year. In a perfect world, I would write something new once a month, but that would take a lot of research time. Every blog post that I write takes at least 8 hours.

“MonumentBlog’s Instagram presence is actually much more significant than the blog itself, as Instagram is my main platform for sharing thoughts about monuments, current events, and temporary public art projects in DC and wherever else I travel.

My 2 Cents

Having blogged for over 15 years, I can’t help but weigh in about the technical side of blogging. First, it can be super-easy if you use software like Weebly or SquareSpace. Like most here, I’ve gravitated to WordPress over the years but it’s usually required hiring a developer to do the initial setup, after which it’s simple enough.

And the point made above about the time commitment involved in blogging is a good one –  I’ve known many a blog to peter out due to lack of time. Knowing that blogs need frequent updates to build traffic, I partnered with two others back in 2006 to create a team blog, which now has five regular contributors and pretty good traffic for the gardening genre (which will never rival politics, sports or celebrity gossip in traffic or advertising income).

Who’s Next?

If you’ve ever considered publishing your writing online, blogging’s the easiest way to start and this winter may be the perfect time to start. Let us know if you’d like more guidance and we’ll be happy to help.

And if your topic is Greenbelt-connected, it may be perfect as a guest post right here. Send your idea or draft post to editor@greenbeltonline.org.

Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com and direct the nonprofit Good Gardening Videos.org.”

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