Downtown Blogger Q&A: Alan Sims, Stuck Inside of Knoxville w/ the Urban Blues Ag'n

A new blog's life expectancy is sadly short; it begins with earnest intentions to strike a bold path of self-expression, and usually ends with a death knell of ennui. They die by the thousands each week. But even in this age of tweets, there are old-fashioned blogs worth seeking out—especially local ones. Here are just a few local blogs to bookmark, if you haven't already.

Stuck Inside of Knoxville w/ the Urban Blues Ag'n

Blogger: Alan Sims, 52

Occupation: School librarian

Blog Started: June 2010

Sample Post:

"I'd be remiss if I didn't throw in a plug for Sanity. On a recent, beautiful, autumn afternoon a small contingent of Knoxvillians made their plea for sanity in our national political discourse. On the same afternoon the Mall in Washington, D.C. was covered with many thousands rallying at the behest of Jon Stewart, a solid dozen (park service estimate) local citizens made their case for the same. I'm not sure if the small number in the march means there aren't very many of our neighbors interested in sanity or if, perhaps, we feel we are just sane enough, thank you very much."

Why did you decide to create Stuck Inside Knoxville?

I started my blog to fill what I perceived as a gap in available information. My wife and I traveled often to downtown from our home in South Knoxville in the '80s and West Knoxville in subsequent years for music, dining, and other entertainment. In recent years it became at least a weekly trip and, as downtown has become even more attractive, we began dreaming about moving into the city. Just over a year ago, without really intending to, we found a place, fell in love, sold our home, and moved to downtown. I really wanted to read in-depth about life in the city and I couldn't find that type of coverage on the few blogs available. Often Knoxville blogs mention downtown, but aren't focused on it routinely. I also wanted information about living in the city that went beyond descriptions of major events or social functions. I wanted to read about those, but I also wanted to know about people on the street, as well as the range of realities here. I love cities for their ugliness as well as their beauty and I wanted to read about both.

How would you describe its "mission"?

To produce words and pictures that reveal the reality of life in downtown Knoxville. This includes musings about the events, both good and bad, and about life on the street, both the delightful and unpleasant aspects. As a result, my blog sometimes covers the silly and the fun and sometimes becomes much more serious.

How much of your time do you devote to it?

The time I spend varies tremendously. I probably average two hours a day working on some aspect of the blog, from taking pictures to editing them and generating content. Some blogs write themselves in minutes and some require hours of picture-taking, sorting, and writing. Some posts are very important to me and I want to get them right.

Have you gotten any interesting feedback?

I'm sometimes recognized on the street, which is usually fun. I've been scoffed at a bit by people who've lived here longer than me. I've been told on several occasions that my coverage of events like the anti-immigration rally, the placement of the sign atop the First Tennessee Building, the Hola Festival, and the jazz festival were better than any other source. I've been told that my blog is primarily fluff and I've been told that I'm doing an important service for the city.

Which post has gotten the biggest reaction?

By far, the most interest I've gotten has been for my coverage of the anti-immigration rally last summer. I worked hard to generate that content. I took pictures and followed those involved in the rally and the counter-demonstration for probably six hours on a very hot day. It took me at least that long to sort through the pictures, write the content, and develop my final product. It resulted in over 400 visits in one day and hundreds have resulted since. Interestingly, I was linked to Nazi and other racist websites, but they were careful to warn their readers that mine was a non-racist site, which I appreciated. Those posts continue to be found by people all over the world every week.

Do you have any goals for the blog beyond just writing it?

I hope to continue writing fun, interesting and sometimes serious, distressing, or provocative posts for a long time. I would love to think that my blog would become a daily stop for people interested in downtown Knoxville or urban living. I've seen some sign of that happening and I hope the interest continues to grow. I'd love to think of my blog as something downtown residents would see as theirs and have it become a reference point for everyone who lives in or simply loves the city.