nwprogressive posted this to dailykos and it did not get a whole lot of attention. I think it’s important, so I’m going to cross post it here with his permission:
Every day, I am reminded of the difficult struggle that lies before us: the challenge of taking our country back from the people who currently sit in the halls of power, destroying our democratic traditions.
But I’m also reminded that a new power has emerged in America – the power of the netroots. The power of the Daily Kos community and the larger community as a whole. What we can achieve by working together.
National communities like Daily Kos and Democratic Underground are booming – and they’re not the only ones. But what about communities on a local level?
Over six months ago, a team of people with a vision – including myself – set down a blueprint for an idea that was to become Pacific Northwest Portal.
A website that would serve as a start page for the entire region.
Today, Pacific Northwest Portal is entering a new era. Today, the third version of the site is officially launched.
I’ve said before that we were originally inspired by this community, and that we were also spurred into action by the Republicans’ attack on Christine Gregoire’s victory last November.
There was a void to fill. Right wing sites like Sound Politics were having a dangerous influence on public discourse – locally. The progressive netroots in the Pacific Northwest were simply not united along a single front.
Pacific Northwest Portal has changed that.
There’s a reason we came up with the name “Pacific Northwest Portal”. “Portal” means gateway, and that’s exactly what we are – a gateway.
For the progressive netroots in the Pacific Northwest, the Portal offers reality-based news and views around the clock every day of the year. It also provides helpful services such as traffic and weather reports.
It’s also a huge resource – you can find just about anything you need in one of the directories.
And today is all about making it better.
Here’s a glimpse of the new version:
The need for websites – maybe communities is a better word – such as these has never been greater.
In the Pacific Northwest, battles still rage. In Washington State, the Republicans may have lost the election contest they filed, but their conservative base has gotten an initiative (or measure) on the ballot to repeal an increase in the gas tax just passed into law by a bipartisan majority and signed by Governor Gregoire.
The gas tax they’re trying to take out is providing the money for replacing aging, decaying structures (i.e. bridges and viaducts) across the state and installing guardrails, passing lanes, and other safety improvements.
Republicans are also jumping behind the candidacy of Mike McGavick, the Safeco CEO who just announced a couple of days ago he’s going to leave Safeco to challenge Sen. Maria Cantwell.
Sore loser Dino Rossi also isn’t going away. We may not know his plans, but we know he’s not finished with politics.
The threat from the conservatives is huge. The conservative blog nexus of the region, Sound Politics, still draws a large number of people every day. They’re not going away either.
So we’re responding by continuing to build a more powerful community for progressives in the Pacific Northwest.
This website has evolved into an essential clearinghouse for local progressive blogs and a resource for progressives regionally and nationwide. But it can always be improved.
With the relaunch complete today, thirty blogs are now syndicated, (eight of these are new) and an additional one hundred and twenty six are linked from our directory – for a total of 156 progressive blogs.
The last time I posted a diary about Pacific Northwest Portal, a number of you responded with suggestions about how to improve the site.
Guess what? We listened. Those suggestions are the basis for many of the changes we just introduced in the new Version 3.0.
Kossack bluebird of happiness told us:
“Perhaps you can consolidate some of your navigation, to make it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for…I wouldn’t stack the top level navigation items (“about” “contact” etc) but lay them in a single line…Create a navigation menu that appears consistently on each page.”
So we introduced a new link system that lays out our links in a single line. This link bar is cleaner and easier to read, and the text is in white, which shows up much more clearly against the blue background.
Kossack eugene told us:
“But what really needs to happen are links with the Democratic Party. The WA Dems in particular have done an extremely poor job of communicating with the public, but the NW Portal could be an excellent way to do that. The WA State Labor Council should also consider helping out and getting involved.”
So, we built up a new Democratic Party directory with a link to every local party website within Washington, Oregon, and Idaho – organized by county, congressional district, etc. The state Democrats have also placed a link to the Portal on their own website – further strengthening our ties.
As for the state Labor Council, we had a meeting with some of their folks, and as a result, the Toolkit page now aggregates a feed bringing the WSLC Reports Today headlines right into our site.
We didn’t just listen to those two, either. We took everyone’s feedback into account. That doesn’t mean that we turned every suggestion we got into reality. But many suggestions did become the basis for changes.
When we first launched Pacific NW Portal, we had high hopes for the site. It has already exceeded our original expectations.
The site has created a strong bond between all the fine progressive bloggers in this great region. It has united us into a more powerful, more mobilized, community.
Reporters are paying attention. They come to the website practically every day. The Portal offers them and people everywhere a convenient way to reach our local community. One correspondent for the Spokesman-Review wrote a column about the Portal last May and interviewed one of our own:
Stephen Phillips, who writes as Carl Ballard at Washington State Political Report, believes Pacifc Northwest Portal helps the region’s progressive blogs make a bigger impact without sacrificing their independent voices. “We felt like we were getting beat on talk radio, beat on the blogs, and we ought to do something,” says Phillips, 25, a Vashon Island office worker and volunteer firefighter.
And we’re still doing something. Today’s launch of the new version of the portal is one of the biggest milestones in our entire history. We’ve come a long way in just six months.
And we intend to continue reaching for new heights, no matter what comes our way.
Whether you have or haven’t seen Pacific Northwest Portal yet, I strongly encourage you to take a good look at the new Version 3.0.
Additionally, if you’re a progressive blogger in the NW and you aren’t in our directory – we want to hear from you immediately.
Let us know you’re out there so we can add you – we can usually get your site up on the directory within a couple weeks. Bloggers who contacted us the last time around will now see their sites on our directory page.
Thanks to all who visit and promote Pacific NW Portal. Your support has made this site into what it is today. And as always, we are attentive to your feedback. You can send us a message through our Feedback page.