Below the Fold

From the Baltimore Brew crew, a behind-the-scenes look at what we do…

Catching up with Brew readers

Baltimore Brew bumper stickers: get 'em while they're hot!

Baltimore Brew bumper stickers: get 'em while they're hot!

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We never call, we never write . . .

Sorry for the long silence, Brew readers – self-promotion kind of saps our energy. After a winter Kickstarter fundraising campaign that, thanks to you guys, succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, we kind of threw ourselves back into reporting.

This resulted in, ahem, some badly blown deadlines: your Brew mugs and bumper stickers and assorted events we promised are waay overdue. Mea culpa. But, take heart: the Mug-A-Rama and other get-togethers are finally in the works, the bumper stickers are here and the mugs are on the way.

We think it’s great-looking swag, thanks largely to design help from those humble hipsters over at Baltimore’s Post Typography. (When they’re not coming up with clever headlines and fonts for ESPN or Time magazine covers, they’re lending a hand pro bono to little local publishers, like Da Brew. Very cool of them.)

Talk and Tenacity

The other result of throwing ourselves back into our reportorial comfort zone was some classic Brew stories, photos and videos – that broke news and got people talking about what’s good (and bad) for Baltimore.

Thanks to Mark Reutter’s tenacious digging, for example, we learned the new Grand Prix chief is the mayor’s biggest campaign contributor and that the Superblock project’s tax break means that $35 million is not going into the city’s coffers. Mark was out front on Sparrows Point’s dire financial straits and shutdown and – in a crisp, lively analysis piece – told us what doomed the iconic steel mill. Sometimes we simply

We helped make mandatory biennial audits a sexy civic topic, but it took months of Reutter slogging through the minutiae – uncovering extra work orders that ballooned the original projects, consultants hired to monitor consultants, etc. (A Brew op-ed by a former city Rec & Parks chief pointing out that major city agencies have not been audited in decades didn’t hurt either.)

Speaking of parks, why can’t more of ours be beautiful and kind of “a scene,” like Sherwood Gardens was on tulip-filled Easter weekend? Commenters flocked to the Brew to discuss this and other provocative ideas raised by our reporting this spring. Is a public-private entity, with a plan to cut and replant beaucoup trees, the best hope for Mount Vernon Place? Can we afford to shut down rec centers, pools and fire companies? Some argue we can’t afford not to. Baltimore’s old buildings tell stories – even Brutalist piles resembling insecticide factories. Does handing them over to private owners save them or betray them?

You  readers do more than blow off steam – through your thoughtful questions and comments, your head-shakes, eyerolls, passionate screeds and free verse and your lively (sometimes vicious!) repartee, you influence our city’s movers and shakers. (Even if it’s only to give them a pang of guilt as they do what they were going to do anyway!)

 

Jaques McFadden and Angel White prepare to plant marigolds at Baltimore's new Upton Edible Garden.

We like the can-do happy look of these two community gardeners in Upton. (Photo by Fern Shen)


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Brew readers met some fascinating city neighbors. The quiet kid-champions training at a city boxing gym. The crazy-creative crew at the Baltimore Rock Opera Society. The couple behind farm-to-table fixture Clementine. The neighbors trying to make veggies grow in the city’s empty lots.

Which brings us to one of the NEW FEATURES you’re going to be seeing on The Brew this week – a blind wine tasting series, sponsored by Classic Catering, guided by local experts. In the first of these Brew Decants events, it turned out the $14 Malbec beat all the rest, including a $38 bottle. Oh, yeah! The nuanced-but-robust food that Classic served paired perfectly with the hearty Argentine wine.

Sponsored content focused on lifestyle and culture – along with more op-eds and multi-media – are some of the new features you’ll be seeing more of in The Brew, as we expand our offerings and eventually roll out a redesigned site and a better focused, more sustainable operation. For your help with all of this, we thank you, Brew readers and Kickstarter supporters.

With your help, the Brew is reaching more people than ever. The number of site visits has grown from 14,000 a month in mid-2010 to almost 92,000 last month. The number of unique visitors – and Brew readers are nothing if not unique – has shot up from 8,700 to about 41,400.

If you want to stop in and let us thank you in person, I will be (along with some fellow Brewers) at the Charles Village Festival on Saturday and Sunday this weekend (June 2nd and 3rd) starting at 11 a.m. each day. I’ll have some of the aforementioned bumper stickers to hand out, come get em while they’re hot!

Best,

Fern Shen, along with Mark Reutter, Ben Kutil, Meredith Mitchell and the whole Brew Crew!

Catching up with Brew readers
  • Unellu

    Wow! 92,000! Congrats BREW. Live long and prosper.