I was honored to have the opportunity to write a story for the inaugural issue of (260) Magazine: “Read This Before You Start Your Fort Wayne Events and Happenings Website“.
It’s a lot of inside Fort Wayne baseball, but at its core, it’s something that I bet a lot of small- to medium-sized cities face: a lot of well-meaning passion projects executed with little or no strategy and resulting in a mass duplication of effort.
In Fort Wayne’s case, this has taken shape in the form of a series of competing websites that try to be the “central hub” of what’s going on in and around Fort Wayne.
As I mention in the article:
Everyone has their own niches, but it all greatly overlaps. Some are for visitors to Fort Wayne. Some are for those looking to move to Fort Wayne. Some are for residents. Some are for those looking to buy a house. Some are for millennials.
These niches look good on an advertising rate sheet, but on a Venn diagram of potential readers, there’s a whole lot of overlapping.
That word, “hub,” keeps coming up. They want their site to be the central hub for Fort Wayne events.
But what happens when everyone tried to be a central hub?
No one is.
This article has been churning around in my head for several years. It finally culminated when I was being snarky about it on Twitter, as you do, and I got an email from a staff member at an organization who produces one of the websites in question. He and I had a great conversation, and when asked what I could suggest to make a better product, the four principles in this article emerged.
I love the web, and I love my hometown. I want them to play nice together.
I admire and appreciate my fellow Fort Wayne countrymen’s efforts to create useful, informative, creative web content. Now that we’ve established, as a community, that the web is a viable and important place to be, the next step is to be strategic about it, to polish, to collaborate, and to be relevant and genuinely useful.
In other words: to do better.
My friends who form the creative partnership of pye,brown (the “comma” is pronounced) announced a new venture: an alternative voice to the usual Fort Wayne media voice. Somewhere between a ‘zine and literary magazine, (260) is, as they say in the intro paragraph on their site:
… [N]ot about looking to the coasts to learn how to be cool or creative or happy or rich, (260) is about doing what we can with what we’ve got right here, right now. It’s about looking for places we can improve, calling out bullshit when we see it, and celebrating the things that are genuinely awesome.
This was a perfect match.
Issue One (“First Strike”) also includes some amazing short fiction by Elliott Berdan, biting but important social commentary in the form of an open letter from Fort Wayne itself by danee pye, a “punk-rock-optimism” manifesto, and some other great pieces not yet available on the web.
Check out my article here, and then check out some of the other stories. And while you’re at it, support this venture by purchasing a physical copy of the magazine. It’s only $4, and you can read the stories in all their analog, dead-tree glory. More importantly, you’ll be supporting a local independent publishing venture. No one’s getting rich off this publication (not even Ted Turner!), and you’ll be supporting the contributors directly, who were compensated for their submissions (though I would have very willingly written this for free).