One hot August day four years ago, John Murden, the blogger, climbed a ladder leaning against the side of his house. He and his wife had just bought a “decrepit Victorian” in Church Hill and he was cataloging its transformation on a blog by the same name. He was tearing shingles off the roof when gunshots punched through the air a block away. Murden came down the ladder and launched a blog with a focus beyond his own house, pulling in the whole neighborhood.
Church Hill People's News, http://chpn.net, has become a bustling site for news on the local microclimate: information on schools, neighborhood associations, zoning matters and City Council politics. In January 2007, Murden put out a call for other neighborhood blogs, offering to loan out his site's template. Ten others have taken him up on it, and the network earned accolades from the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
As a sixth-grade history teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, four blocks from his house, his job and relationships there come first. During an interview for this story, he already knew the good news that this year all the neighborhood schools were accredited, but did not post until it was officially made public.
Shortly after his disclosure, a band of kids pressed their noses against the window of the coffee shop where he was sitting, making faces at their teacher. He's not trying to break news, but be part of community. “It gives a richness to daily life I haven't known since I was a kid,” he says.