It took me twenty-four hours to realize that I'd written a whole post about shutting down the blog without taking a single shot at House Republicans. Writing an unabashedly left-liberal blog for five years only to drop that ball? It's definitely time to retire.
In all seriousness, I've been touched and flattered by everything folks have posted here and on Facebook. The comments have been thought-provoking, too, especially those connecting the rise of the blog and the meteoric rise of the Avenue in one way or another. ILFA wasn't a determining factor in these changes, of course [we don't need to untangle the Gordian knot of how-neighborhood-change-happens right now], but perhaps the blog was a catalyzing factor of sorts for certain developments, or certain projects. I don't know, and if this was the case, I don't know if I was always aware of it or if I always used that influence wisely (though I'm certainly glad to hear that ILFA has encouraged folks to think about the complex issues at stake in the area, and also to get to know all their neighbors).
One thing I wonder about but don't really have any way of answering is whether blogs like this one have any impact on local businesses. The first email I received after hitting "post" on yesterday's goodbye was a press release from Pelzer's Pretzels, who will be opening their first brick-and-mortar store (like Gladys, they started on the market/street food scene) on Sterling between Franklin and Bedford (724 Sterling, to be exact) on October 12 from 10am - 6pm. As a longtime friend and ILFA advisor pointed out tonight, "your usual 'I'm a blogger' routine isn't going to get you any free samples this time!"
I can deal with paying for my grub, but I'll miss the "new-business-interview" posts. For quite awhile, walking into small spaces under construction and chatting with new business owners about their hopes and dreams was my bread and butter. These were some of the most fascinating conversations I had along Franklin; I learned a lot, and I made some good friends. These were also some of the posts that attracted the most aggressive debates about gentrification, and often got me blasted for cheerleading (or for sullying an exciting new opening by raising the issue of gentrification, on the flip side). I don't know if I made any sort difference to some of these business, or if the general tone of small-business boosterism added a bit of turbo to the changes along the way, but when I encountered energetic folks who were enthusiastic about the neighborhood and were working hard to realize their own vision, I was easily won over, for better or worse. Pelzer's, if you're anything like that (and if your pretzels pass Philly muster - I spent the first nine years of my life in that town), I'll be interested.