When I first applied to be a blogger for The Grid, I figured it would be a way for me to gain a bit of exposure, sharpen my writing skills, and keep my brain active– but it became much more than that. I have found that writing about issues affecting the Inland Empire has connected me to my community and given me the opportunity (and sometimes the motivation) to take a deep look at the very real urban planning issues that face it.
The Inland Empire has a unique set of issues, and working at a regional planning agency has given me an interesting perspective on these problems and their solutions. But when I began to step out from behind the lens of my agency to write my blogs, I realized that there were aspects of the community that I was missing from the 3rd floor of the Riverside County Administrative Center. Talking with and interviewing community leaders like Mark Friis showed me how important it is to consider how urban planning solutions actually affect users on the ground. A perspective that often gets lost as we search for the easy answers, or those that “look good on paper." Considering the value of mature neighborhoods like Riverside’s Eastside gave me a new perspective on a neighborhood that I had lived in for two years. Exploring the world of Riverside’s homeless, though brief as it was, forced me to think a bit more about the people that I casually pass on the freeway on-ramp every afternoon.
It wasn’t always easy to stay on deadline and produce high quality work with a full time job, classes, and other “extracurricular” activities, but thanks to great editors I feel that my posts were engaging and improved over time, both in their words and images. My time with The Grid gave me a medium to put into words the ideas and observations that I obtained from exploring my community.
Though my time with The Grid has come to an end, I will take with me the invaluable lessons that I have learned— not just lessons from editors on how to write better and express ideas about my community more clearly, but the perspective that I have gained from my peers about communities around the world. We, here in the Inland Empire, have many great challenges facing us, and I feel that it is important for us to explore new and innovative solutions to these challenges. My experience with The Grid has given me the opportunity for exploration, and I wish as good a fortune to future bloggers as I have had.
Thank you all. Cheers!
Credits: Images by Taylor York. Data linked to sources.