University Place Patch reached a milestone Tuesday – we turned a year old.
On Oct. 4, 2010, the first of what would eventually grow into a cluster of 14 Patch sites in Washington launched right here in UP.
Yours truly became the editor of a local, community website that few people in the U.S., let alone the South Sound, had even heard of. Today, more than 850 communities throughout the nation turn to their Patch for all things local.
But a year ago in University Place, I wasn’t envisioning the company's potential or thinking about how it would become one of the most talked-about sources of local content on the Web.
I was stressing (and praying) for a successful launch of the Puget Sound’s first Patch. On the surface, that sounded easy enough. I spent five years covering University Place for the local newspaper immediately before coming to Patch and assumed that I had a pretty good read on the community.
Still, there wasn’t a road map that detailed how to successfully introduce a community to your online presence. All Patch Regional Editor Mike Lewis and I had to do was create something neither of us had ever produced. And we had to do it as if we were seasoned online veterans. We were newsies, not techies.
But we somehow pulled it off. Shortly after 9 a.m., a year ago, University Place Patch launched with the following stories and items:
- An update on the projects included in an
- A video story on the recently opened
- A story on the , which voters approved four months later to create West Pierce Fire & Rescue
- A piece by Patch contributor Candace Brown on a to honor longtime community supporter Terry Reim.
- A pair of restaurant columns by contributor Jackie Fender on and the
- A story from April Chan – who eventually became editor of Enumclaw Patch – about local businesses
- A volunteer spotlight on , who personifies community dedication
- A preview of University Place Patch’s student-produced series, “,” in which Curtis lineman Cornelius Edison, who now plays football for Portland State University, wrote the first entry.
Producing that content was a lot of work, but it marked the beginning of something pretty special in the Northwest.
The day we launched, Todd Bishop, then with the Seattle-area technology site TechFlash, wrote a piece about Patch’s foray into the Northwest. A month later, I was featured on a segment of "Comcast Newsmakers,” during which I made a about my experience that my fellow editors still find hilarious.
We’ve covered some big stories here in University Place, everything from a to the grand opening of to West Pierce firefighters who for the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11.
The coverage hasn’t been all serious, though. We updated users on the playoff runs of Curtis' basketball and football teams. Working with University Place mom and Patch contributor Rachel Lauzon, , and my feet haven’t stopped moving since. The game from contributor Kim Thompson tests the wits of those who think they know UP.
Last month, I, along with Lakewood Patch Editor Marques Hunter, contributed whatever skills we could to the effort.
Over the last year, UP Patch has introduced local bloggers, increased the number of videos and photo galleries on the site and worked to provide users with content that makes their lives easier.
Not only have we grown and improved, but UP Patch has established itself as the source where the community goes for all things local.
It’s a great feeling.
Still, the most rewarding thing about University Place Patch’s first year has nothing to do with a story or blog. It’s the countless residents who have e-mailed, allowed me to speak to their group or chatted with me at an event. I’ve met so many people through the , , even the .
It’s the community that makes University Place what it is. The stories from people who have gone through UP schools or the tales of what Grandview Drive used to look like - that’s the stuff that I’ve enjoyed the most. I thought I knew UP, but the first year of Patch in the Northwest showed me I wasn’t even close. This community has countless stories to share and things to cheer for.
The biggest compliment comes when someone tells us we’re bringing the UP community together. I kept this e-mail from user Chris Saunders, who wrote, “Thanks for all you do, Brent. Your work is help(ing) UP become a stronger, more connected and vibrant community.”
Thanks, Chris. After a whirlwind first year in which Patch jumped and planted its roots in University Place, your comment is the best birthday gift an old editor such as myself can hope for.
So here’s to another year, University Place. Cheers!