100,000: What’s in a number?

Sometime today or over the next few, Placeshakers and Newsmakers will cross a notable (for us) threshold: 100,000 reads. Not that 100,000 is altogether different from 90,000 or 80,000 but it does make for a nice round opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been doing here and how its evolution has surprised us.

As many readers know, Placeshakers is the online soapbox of PlaceMakers, a town planning and community development firm. By our own admission, a company blog is nothing particularly special — in fact, they’re often painfully tiresome — and that’s why we’ve taken great care to avoid the sin of talking all about ourselves and, instead, talk about what really matters: the big picture issues and ground-level challenges facing those who care as much about shaping community as we do.


There’s clearly no shortage of such folks. In fact, there are so many, of so many stripes, that they’re broken out into all kinds of silos — bike and ped advocates, environmentalists, rails-to-trailsers, preservationists, neighborhood school boosters, transit lovers, community foodies, smart growthers, and many, many more.

Silos are nice because they provide us a receptive audience of like-minded souls who share our particular obsessions. We can drill down deeply on the nuances of our respective goals, share epiphanies that border on genius, and then grudgingly mumble that things would be so much better if only everyone else could just get it.

That’s fine enough at the personal level and maybe even for our individual specialist pursuits but it lacks one key thing: the widespread collaboration necessary for truly systemic change.

That’s a gap, and not a small one, and it was the impetus for why we started Placeshakers in the first place. Conventional wisdom says that, if your special interest teams up with another one, you double your efforts. But the reality is much better. Once cross-pollination among organizations really takes hold, advances stop being incremental and start being exponential. And that’s when movements really gain momentum.

That’s something we’ve tried, in our own small way, to help foster and the growing scope of our readership would seem to indicate that people are hungry to make greater impacts. As we say in our description, we believe that paths out of the housing and finance crisis and paths toward sustainability and accessibility intersect. And that issues like energy, agriculture, aging and obesity share common roots. But even then, when links to our posts materialize, we’re amazed at how often they emerge from voices well outside the new urban camp.

We’re at the dawn of a whole new era. One where we’ll no longer have the luxury of simply spending our way out of difficulty. It’s now the age of bang-for-the-buck pragmatics, where solutions to any one problem will be deemed insufficient if they don’t also offer some degree of greater, comprehensive value.

To that end, we’ve enjoyed being a part of the conversation and hope the perspectives shared here on Placeshakers have been of some small value to you and your own efforts.

Keep the faith. Keep connecting. Keep fighting. And thanks for dropping by.

–Scott Doyon

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