I'm leaving for New York City next week and, outside periodic trips back, will no longer be a Tampa or Florida resident. If you follow my personal blog to any degree you've known about this for at least a month's time (see the postings). And in any event, you may have noticed a thinning of attention here lately that is in direct relation to the overhead of such a life change.
I'll be where that dot is.
Among all the details I've had to cater to in this transition, none have been more dogged or problematic than what my leaving means for the future of Tampa Rail. I've mentally touched on the issue lightly here and there, hoping for an intuitive solution that would somehow keep this operation in strict line with my reasoning, logic, and voice; all while dealing with the reality that I will no longer be on hand to personally provide in-time local content, which I view as critical. The ability to provide such content is really the stuff besides voice that keeps a blog from running as little more than a glorified RSS reader. Alas, with this, the final weekend of my Tampa presence, no such solution that fits all corners has yet come to mind. Still, it's decision time, so here's what happens now.
Gonna Get Slow Around Here
For all realistic purposes, Tampa Rail will go silent for approximately a month to three months. I'm trying to launch life in New York City and this will involve landing and embedding myself into a new job. I won't be able to justify much attention to a personal enterprise like this until my basics are squared away. I'll do my best to post something when merited, but expect the minimum for a time.
Back With a Binocular View
As I gradually come back online, so will Tampa Rail. However, there will be a different editorial focus. TR will transform from a local interest endeavor to one of much broader appeal. This is important because with $3+ gas prices and an increasingly accepting attitude toward urban rail support in politics; the country itself, not just Hillsborough County or Florida, needs an example of one city's plight to urbanize and to provide transportation choice.
Tampa is at its mass transit cusp with a long battle ahead of it in favor of rail. But, it will be a battle, and thus, the story needs to be showcased - nationally. My ambition here is nothing short of spectacular, I give you, but I'm going enjoy the challenge. By taking Tampa Rail national I'm going to focus the nation's attention on this county and city with every blogging bone in my body. The theme of local exhibition, which was served best by my actual presence here, will be slightly modified to showcase new starts in general, but, always through the funnel of Tampa's own progress. It may be hard to conceptualize (after all, doesn't Google make any website "national" by default?), but stick with me over time and you'll see what I'm talking about. My intent is to celebrify the new start and urban rail development going on in this town. Done right, I think this will more than fulfill the mission of the site to keep the rail debate here lively.
The Local Content Problem
I also believe I have developed a workable model for maintaining local content. It centers around something I call the "David Pinero Collection" and I will have a page up here shortly that introduces the concept and provides details.
As well, I will be able to make it back to Tampa from time to time in order to compile fresh ground coverage on my own. Airlines are cheap these days (relatively) and I have a plethora of friends to host me for a weekend, making the cost of staying that long almost nothing. I expect to utilize this option for the most major of events such as light rail groundbreaking, openings, etc. But, as well, I will try to make yearly treks in any event for purposes of general compilation.
Finally, local non-paid and non-solicited editorial submissions and insights are always welcome just as they would be with any publishing enterprise and always have been here. I'll reform aspects of the site to make the process of these submissions more clear and direct.
So, the good news is, my leaving will not mean the end of Tampa Rail or my direct and regular control of it. I am sure, save for the instability about to be experienced during the actual transition, what you regular TR readers are going to get in the end is something far more dramatic and potent than that which exists today.
Therefore, I cannot get sentimental. A post that had me typing good bye to you all would read much differently by now, I assure. Rather, this is more tantamount to an announcement of change in editorial policy.
Why I'm Doing It
Now, I will address the burning issue of why I'm leaving, and, perhaps the question of whether or not the lifestyle philosophy I espouse for Tampa can be found in New York City has anything to do with it.
First, I am leaving for the mere pursuit of better opportunities as a LAST chance opportunity for me. I was scheduled to leave my "gig" of monitoring burglar alarms at the end of August (which I did yesterday) and would either need a new job in my actual field of work, IT, or, be looking for one, while living off savings. This I could have done in Tampa and, initially, planned on it. However, my savings to do so are slim and a few months ago I was presented with a method of setting up in NYC on the cheap, thanks to relatives willing to host a launch. I've always wanted to try life there, and with the timely offer of a bedroom and local coaching, I was forced to look at my small savings and ask myself, at 42, whether or not this money could best help me here or there. Moving to New York now would likely be the last opportunity to give that classic dream a shot. Once I'm hired and on my way to resuming a normal working man's life, I only get older, and, possibly more entrenched in real life affairs like family and what not. Ultimately, I've concluded, there's nothing to lose in wondering except the opportunity itself.
It might not have taken much to tip the decision the other way once it became a question, but the siren call of the world's most powerful city is too much to resist, and my personal and material attachments to Tampa, too thin. If there's any sentimentality, outside the loss of regular contact with personal friends and family, it's that Tampa Rail itself probably came the closest to making me re-think the move than anything. Weird huh?
Is it For All that New York City Rail?
Quite naturally, you might wonder if, by going to New York, there's some notion of taking on the lifestyle I'm always preaching for more of here in Tampa. Not to stun anyone, but, really, no. At least as far as the rail option is concerned (the pedestrian density, perhaps). If I wanted to turn myself into a walking example of defiance against Tampa's grip on a roads-only mentality, I'd move to Dallas Texas or Charlotte North Carolina. These cities, like Tampa might be, are recent converts to transit options. Not only is it more exciting to live the roller coaster ride of conversion just after the big drop, they are still cities unfurling their wares as new and vibrant magnets with plenty of space to afford newcomers. Had I a support system in place in Charlotte, my destination, if it were strictly about defiance or example, would be there instead.
True, New York City has been cited at TR as a sociological manifest destiny in terms of its diversity, density, pedestrian accommodations, cultural potential, and so on; but it lacks something critical in the overall formula that this website has always been for which is transportation choice.
New York City does not have transportation choice any more than Tampa. There's plenty of rail but there's very little choice about whether you'll use it. You more or less will, without option. The average person cannot drive in the city, nor, can they avoid the skyrocket fees associated with doing so if they buck the system. A one mode choice is not what transportation choice is about just because the available mode happens to be rail. The anti-tax freaks who like to fantasize that all rail supporters are about "replacing roads and cars" hate this sort of poignant contradiction because it blows their rhetoric out of the water that we as light rail supporters want everyone out of their cars. In reality, we really mean what we say when we talk about CHOICE.
Obviously I am not so opposed to the de facto reliance on subway and bus travel that New York City demands that I'm not going. I'm actually excited about it because I frankly hate driving, and I'm in love with the history of New York City's sprawling underground as a matter of lore. Once settled and comfortable, I expect to make a hobby life out of exploring its far reaches for enjoyment's sake. But, as a general display of ultimate mass transit advocacy, I would not be moving to NYC. Even the NYC blogs that dedicate themselves to mass transit there are mainly bitching sites, not, "Our Fine Subway and MTA" blogs (Second Avenue Sagas and Subway Blogger are two interesting reads, BTW).
Still, I concede to the extent that New York City is a mecca for the pedestrian favoring a no-car life, that it is an appealing living model for me as an individual that Tampa cannot yet match. We can take it that far, but not much further (wink).
I'll Be Back, Enough.
My direct ties to Tampa will remain through family and friends, and, this blog. I will be in Tampa more than most people go to any town outside their own, and will be here on the rail angle each and every time. I am leaving but Tampa Rail is staying, and, it's going to stay as a much more powerful draw than it ever has. My distance will liberate me in a number of different ways in regards to this site, and, conversely, you regular TR folks are going to be in for a real treat.