Introducing: The Constitution Street Blog

Have you noticed the Constitution Street blog? The blog is a fantastic addition to the wonderful world of Leith websites and needless to say we’ve already subscribed. Being nosy, we asked a few questions of the people behind it. Here’s the answers we got…

Anyone who finds your blog will be curious to know who the people are behind the blog. Are you prepared to reveal your identify?

The reason for not putting my face right smack bang in the middle of the blog is simply that it’s about the street and not about me. Also, my hope is that I’m not going to be the only contributor but rather the blog will be a place where anyone who has an interest in Constitution Street – whether they work on it or live on it, whether their favourite pub is here or they use the number 16 bus everyday – can and will contribute. But actually, I’m now kind of enjoying the fact that people are so intrigued. In fact, the very first comment on the blog was ‘who are you?’ If it brings more people to the blog, then why not keep the mystery?

And if yes….do your employers know about your hyperlocal blog experiment?

I haven’t told them but I wouldn’t mind them, or anyone else, knowing. It’s not a secret as much as just not very relevant. I didn’t create the blog in a work capacity, I happen to live on Constitution Street, I happen to love it, I think other people probably do too and a blog is a place where we can have a blether about that.

Constitution Street is an amazing street, but as far as we know it is the only street in Edinburgh that has it’s own blog. What is it about Constitution Street that inspired you to set up a blog entirely devoted to it?

Hooray! We are pioneers. That makes me really pleased. The reason for setting up the blog was to create a home for all those conversations that I kept having in the street with neighbours, or in the pub with friends about Constitution Street.

What’s going to happen about the trams? (Unfortunately we know the answer to that now.) What’s going to happen about the proposed biomass plant? Who’s going to sort out the state of the road surface? I really got a sense during the public meetings held about the biomass proposal and in terms of the outrage about the trams fiasco that people who live in Leith really care about their area but they don’t always know where to go with that or who to tell. The blog is just one place.

But it’s not just about concerns, it’s also about celebrating the street. Constitution Street is an amazing street, with an amazing history. I’d love it if the blog could provide a way for bringing people on the street together.

Maybe we could have a project to encourage people to have window boxes? Or maybe some people would want to get their front doors painted? Or maybe they’d just like to share what they like about living or working here? I think there are tons of good ideas floating around but people aren’t sure how to come together to make them happen. We could do that with the blog.

It’s just one street! What are you going to write about? Do you worry that you might run out of stuff to say?

Ah, but what a street it is. Centuries old burial grounds, a plethora of pubs, stunning architecture both old and new. And, of course, we benefit from being in Leith where there is no shortage of stuff happening.

What kind of response have you had so far to the blog?

It’s been totally positive but perhaps not as voluminous as I might’ve liked. We’ve got about 80 followers on Twitter (@Constitution_St) but I’m still looking for contributors to post on the blog. We might have a four-legged mascot although he’s proving a little camera shy. But there’s no rush. The blog is there now and it’s about building people’s awareness so that they know that it’s there for when they want to use it. And when they’re ready hopefully they’ll send their posts to [email protected] and we’ll post them up.

Do you blog about other subjects on other websites?

My day job is writing so it’s not something that’s new to me, but the Constitution Street blog is a completely personal project and I’m only kicking it off. I really do want other people to feel that it belongs to the street, not to one person.

What do you think people get out of blogging about the neighbourhood where they live?

A feeling of connection and a sense that people are interested in where they live. Constitution Street has had a really rough time with the trams. We had months of road works and disruption and then nothing. I think that was a real blow and so we’ve got to try and build a positive feeling about the street again and celebrate it as one of Edinburgh’s most historic thoroughfares.

Do you worry that you might offend one of your neighbours by writing something contentious?

The blog is a place for discussion and debate. I don’t expect everyone to hold the same views but I would hope that anyone posting on the blog either as a contributor or as a commenter would be respectful even if they’re disagreeing. If people feel strongly, bring it on, that’s what makes things happen.

If you could change one thing about the Greener Leith blog to make it better, what would it be?

Are you joking? We’re the newbies, we’re not going to be dishing out advice. Greener Leith is great – a trailblazer – we just look and hopefully learn.

And lastly, if there’s anyone out there thinking of starting a blog for their street, or neighbourhood, what advice would you give them?

Just do it. The free software around now is incredibly straightforward – you don’t have to be a techno geek to pull it off. And yes, once you’ve done it, it might mean that you’re standing in the street in your pyjamas taking a photograph because the light is nice but what’s wrong with that?

You can find the Constitution Street blog here.