#1 Spokane, Washington

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Is anyone surprised that the best city in the metro on a blog called SpokanePlanner is the city of Spokane? What more can I say that I haven't already said in other articles? I think the right thing to do here is write about the history of SpokanePlanner. Tighten your laces.

I started writing a book about Spokane and its hinterlands in graduate school. Made it through about 7,000 words (most books are 60,000 to 100,000 words). After the Downtown Spokane Partnership showed me the door back in 2012, I picked up where I left off. Updated the outdated graduate school stuff and wrote a fresh several chapters in what was shaping up to be a very academic portrayal of Spokane, kinda’ along the lines of Sounding Spokane, and Mental Territories: Mapping the Inland Empire.

Being the author of two prior books, one with a publisher and one self-published, I knew I was better off garnering the interest of a publisher before proceeding much further. By this time, I’m about 20,000 words in, I’m emotionally committed, and I wanted to keep going but I didn’t want it to be a waste of time.

Despite my best efforts, no publisher would take me, not even the local ones. In the meantime, the Spokane Tribe of Indians decided to take a chance on a non-tribal white boy by hiring me to become their Planning and Economic Development Director. I started helping the Spokane Tribe in May of 2014. By early 2015, I knew the Spokane Tribe job well enough that my mind started wondering back to writing about Spokane (the Euro-centric version of it, anyway). While reading through letters from 2013 and early 2014 trying to solicit interest from publishers, I felt discouraged because I was less emotionally committed to finishing the book, didn’t have a publisher, did not want to self-publish, but also didn’t want the work to go to waste.

Courtesy of my experience helping the Puget Sound Attractions Council in 2010 and 2011, I got to know website development and all that comes with it, particularly search engine optimization. So, long story short, sitting there in my home office within one of Spokane’s best neighborhoods in January of 2015, scrolling through all of my disappointment with publishers rejecting me, still smarting from the Downtown Spokane Partnership rejecting me, and looking through all the great material I wrote about Spokane, I said, “Screw it. I’m putting this on the internet.”

What do I call the blog? SpokanePlanner. Perfect.

So, I took roughly 20,000 words of content about Spokane and I launched SpokanePlanner in late February of 2015. In the beginning months of SpokanePlanner, I honored the academic tradition of citing sources to help prove my point and, egotistically, to help prove that I’ve read books.

I have passions for Spokane as a market center, urban design, and economic development, so those early years I cranked out lots of content toward such ends, not too worried about whether people would read it but more focused on the joy of writing.

Honest and analytical writing about flaws within Spokane’s systems, or simply just wholesale systemic failures, does not endear me to the hearts of those that run the systems. Couple that with my failure running the Downtown Spokane Partnership (one of the pillars of Spokane’s flawed systems), and what you get is an honest perspective from a home grown expert that is not beholden to the dysfunctional etiquette of local Spokane politics.

These days, SpokanePlanner is up to about 200,000 words, influences about 100,000 people per year, and the guy behind it is once again staring out into the mapless void prepping for more excitement.

Thanks for reading SpokanePlanner. More to come.

(Featured photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash)

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