Last year I made two New Years resolutions and kept both of them. The first was to learn enough about web design to create a portfolio website for myself, the second was to start a weekly blog to address urban design topics in Chattanooga. The website is live (www.christianrushing.com) and has a fairly representative sampling of my professional work. It is, however, in desperate need of an overhaul by an interactive design professional (if I could ever find the scratch to pay for it). The blog, which has taken on a life of its own, is complete as of this week.
There were several reasons that I wanted to get a regularly updated blog up and running. The most obvious reason was that there had been essentially no community conversation regarding urbanism and design since the Design Studio was shuttered in Spring of 2005. A blog is clearly no surrogate for active public discourse, so I suppose my hope was that writing about these things would induce others to voice their opinions as well. If enough of us got active, we could bring back the community dialogue about how we want our city to develop. I didn’t want to blog to make money, nor was I concerned with garnering a huge readership (as evidenced by a very narrowly focused theme). In fact, I’m not sure my readership will grow much as most of the people who care about these things have already subscribed. The reason I chose to write about urban design in Chattanooga is that I care deeply about it. It is one of the few things that I could excite me enough to write about week in week out.
|Blogging: equal parts coffee, music, & xbox breaks.|
Lest you think the blog was born purely of selfless concern for the community, I readily admit that I had a number of selfish motivations. Setting aside a few hours each week to write was therapeutic and provided a time each week for me to “reset” myself. It has also given me pause to think about a variety of facets of the city in a deeper way. I have thoroughly enjoyed the process, and I hope you have enjoyed reading.
The first four posts of my blogging career pretty much set the tone for the year. I gave ya’ll the ground rules for what I wanted to write about and how I wanted to do it. The gloves came off when I used the two-part post “On the Declining Standard of Downtown Building” to make some observations about the direction the city is headed. Those posts seem to have struck a nerve. I’ve received more in-person comments on those posts than any other. The stats from the blog service back that up – those are two of the top five most viewed posts of the year. The most salient point of those posts is that the recent phenomenon of poor city building is but a symptom of the larger problem: a lack of community dialogue regarding how we want our city to grow.
The shortest month proved to be a good one for the C.Rushing space. I had the pleasure of introducing you to one of my favorite buildings downtown: Citi Park (As fate would have it, they have a killer unit available at the corner of M.L.King and Chestnut. If you’re looking for space, you should call Berry & Hunt). That month, I also made our first foray into the world of sport (a topic that matters deeply to me and is a recurrent tertiary theme in the blog). I greatly enjoyed writing the post about how urbanism and design have a positive impact on football game days in England.
I took a look back at a couple of our historic efforts to remedy urban design maladies. This was a perfect lens through which to view the impending US-27 work. That work is still impending, still has massive implications for the future health of our downtown, and I still think the community should be concerned about what TDOT wants to do to us. Later in the month I took a pot shot at the institution of design guidelines, which I generally hate. Of course, this was written before the city decided to establish a downtown overlay zone and create a set of design guidelines- please don’t consider my post an indictment of these people or processes. I know most of the folks involved, and even chew the urban design fat with some of them at my Cherry Street office.
The highlight of April was my first ever trip to the hallowed grounds of Augusta National to see the first round of the Masters golf tournament. The
|I hope I didn't tell any of my clients I was sick that day...|
The fifth month is kind of a reset button for my year. My year, of course, is driven by the sports calendar. The posts were all over the place this month. Feel free to cop my collard green recipe.
Ah yes, time for food on a stick. Surprisingly, I didn’t receive any hate mail from the Riverbend crowd; I don’t suppose a lot of them are in to reading urban design blogs (is that offsides). I still feel that we are risk of becoming the next
The month in which Christianmas falls is always exciting, but this one was particularly good. The year marked the anniversary of one of the most important milestones of urbanism in our city, the Images of the City exhibition. We also celebrated the announcement and kickoff of River City Company’s Urban Design Challenge- a process that has kick-started the civic dialogue regarding urbanism and design. The Challenge is ongoing, please come out and participate.
Like the 29th of February, vacation only rolls around once every four years. As such, I felt the need to write about it all month. I wrapped it up with a little eye candy– me in a fumanchu moustache and polyester shorts.
I must have been hungry in September, there were several food pictures and an off-topic post on food (any excuse to show Paula Deen riding a hot dog ya’ll). For more images of Ms. Deen riding things please visit www.pauladeenridingthings.com. On another note, is it shallow and mean to take pleasure in seeing an old flame who has let herself go (read: the city of Albuquerque) as you walk by with your smoking-hot, smart and funny wife (our fair city: Chattanooga)? Probably…but it’s still fun. Albuquerque, it was fun- but I’m in a committed relationship with Chattanooga now.
|My favorite caption of the year: |
"'Cause F your arteries, that's why!"
With college football season in full swing, I’m amazed that I got any writing done. The posts covered familiar topics: food, alcohol, football, the value of shared community place. As an aside, the blog stat folks tell me that the number one search phrase leading people to my blog (ahead of boring variations “Christian” “Rushing” “Blog”) was “I hate LSU”. I’m not exactly sure how that works, but it probably has something to do with my post which mentions some student work.
More food, more football, more Rushing men, more on the value of civic dialogue and discourse, and more on the regenerative nature of the city.
Folks, I must admit that I felt like I was limping to the finish line in December. I had less time to write and the topics did not seem to come as easily. I was, however, determined to finish the year and fulfill my resolution.
|The blog: equally grueling, less dramatic finish.|
Writing this blog has been a great experience. The process has been therapeutic, cathartic, educational, fun, and energizing. I’m not yet sure what the future holds for the blog- I suspect that I will not have the time to drop 1,000 words per week again. I’ll try to come up with a plan by this time next week. To my friends in Russia, Germany, Canada, UK, India, Netherlands, France, Finland and Spain, thank you very much for reading. Please feel free to chime in, I would love to hear from you. To my reader(s) in Chattanooga, Happy New Year. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us!