It's crazy to think that we launched Vancouver Is Awesome ten years ago today. February 14th, 2008 was the day we went live with this ongoing love letter to the city, and we've come such a very long way since then.
V.I.A. started as direct response to the "No Fun City" moniker which was big at the time. More than a hashtag, the negativity around it became a movement of people grumbling about what was wrong with the city with no real answers regarding how to make it better. I wanted to do something to counter it, to remind people (and myself!) of all the great people, places and things that keep us here, despite the bad stuff.
I had spent 5 years living in Los Angeles and upon moving back to Vancouver was in an entirely different mindset than those on the "No Fun City" wagon. Each day, after catching up on the news and reading some whiny blogs I'd cleanse my palate and visit a site I'd bookmarked (remember bookmarks?!) called Cute Overload (which, coincidentally, called it quits after 10 years).
Contained within C.O.'s fluffy internet walls were photos of cute pandas, personified hamsters holding chopsticks, and just a general feeling that everything was going to be alright. As I closed my browser window on it one evening I decided to do something similar, but for Vancouver. I wanted to put something positive into the media landscape here.
Initially we were a band of about 30 volunteers operating by 2 rules:
1. No negativity. Just awesome stories.
2. No nudity. I didn't want to contribute to the objectification of women online; there's always been too much of that, everywhere.
We were so fluffy that we wouldn't even approach subjects that had an edge to them, or had to do with issues affecting the city. Then somewhere along the line we started publishing stuff from the grey area. Things that weren't exactly awesome but involved someone doing something about problems started popping up more and more.
When we came on board with Glacier Media back in September of last year we started publishing actual news, written by actual journalists (of which I do not consider myself, and have always made that abundantly clear). The idea is that we will always be sharing positive stories about the people, culture, events and lifestyle that you've come to expect from us, but we also want to keep you up to speed on things that are affecting your city, and your life within it.
It was an experiment when we introduced news 5 months ago, and since people vote with their feet we know that you mostly like the new stream of content along with the "old" stuff you've come to expect from us. Our web traffic is up 350% over this time last year, and our social following has continued to grow. While we may no longer be the super fluffy place we once were, our evolution is one that we think you appreciate. And we'll keep evolving.
The funny thing about doing more actual news it that, with a growing staff, we're actually bringing you a higher volume of those capital "A" Awesome stories than we ever have. Senior Writer Lindsay William-Ross is leading the charge with those along with Adam Nanji, and we're bringing on more staff in the coming months to bring you even more.
We appreciate you sticking with us all these years, and we look forward to another decade serving this city and all of its citizens.
You are awesome. Thank you.